Anti-abortion group opposes Calgary bylaw that would limit home delivery of aborted fetus photos
Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform says bylaw would also impact groups like World Vision and the food bank
Members of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) — the group that often stuffs mailboxes with flyers bearing graphic photos of aborted fetuses — raised concerns Wednesday about proposed changes to a Calgary bylaw regarding flyer delivery.
The changes are part of a host of revisions to the city's community standards bylaw, impacting things like noise, grass length in private yards, backyard fires and the delivery of flyers to residents who don't want them.
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Cameron Cote with the CCBR said his group isn't a commercial operation so, under the existing bylaw, its members don't need to respect "No Flyers Please" messages on Calgarians' mailboxes.
"We put them in mailboxes wherever they are," Cote told city councillors during a committee meeting on the topic.
The revised bylaw, however, would expand the penalties for putting unwanted flyers in marked mailboxes to include non-commercial organizations as well, with exemptions for material related to elections and government, paid newspaper delivery and community association newsletters.
The draft bylaw includes no exceptions for other groups, meaning it would be a violation for CCBR members to put photos of aborted fetuses into a mailbox with a "No Flyers Please" sign. Penalties would range from $50 to $300.
Cote said that's a problem because it's important for his group and others with different causes to be able to reach Canadians directly.
"I don't think it should pivot around how socially acceptable or not acceptable the issue is," he said.
"I don't think we're debating the issue, itself," replied Coun. Druh Farrell. "We're debating the ability for a citizen to choose what literature goes into their mailbox."
'Cost-effective' way to spread message
Rachel Dalcin with the CCBR also spoke to councillors in opposition of the bylaw change, saying it would also affect not just her organization but many others.
"Delivering flyers is an important way for groups such as non-profits, so, World Vision, or groups like Calgary Food Bank — there's many groups that would be affected — and it would very significantly affect their ability to reach the public and gain support from the community," she said.
"This is a cost-effective means for them to spread their message."
Councillors on the committee unanimously endorsed the bylaw changes.
The matter goes next to city council, as a whole, for a final vote later this month.