City begins process to appeal ruling on Christian Heritage Party transgender bus shelter ads

Hamilton is starting the process to appeal a superior court decision that determined the Christian Heritage Party (CHP) had the right to post bus shelter ads the city deemed transphobic.

Superior court panel ruled party had the right to political speech, even if some found it offensive

The Christian Heritage Party won a court challenge against the city after the city pulled bus shelter ads it deemed transphobic. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Hamilton is starting the process to appeal a superior court decision that determined the Christian Heritage Party (CHP) had the right to post bus shelter ads the city deemed transphobic.

The city's legal services staff will file a notice of motion for leave to appeal the court's decision, according to spokesperson Jen Recine.

A panel of three superior court judges ruled last week that the CHP has a right to engage in political speech, even if some find that speech offensive. The decision didn't award specific costs, but it struck down the city's decision to remove the ads.

City apologized for 'offensive nature' of ads

The party took the city to divisional court after it placed three HSR bus shelter ads in 2016 that depicted someone who appeared to be male entering a door marked "Ladies Showers." 

"Competing human rights," it read. "Where is the justice?"

The city stripped the bus shelter ads and apologized for their "offensive nature."

​It also cautioned Outfront Media, the third-party company that handles HSR ads, to be more careful about ad content.

The CHP and its Hamilton Mountain electoral district association then sued the city.

Preserving Hamilton's rights

Recine described the city taking steps to appeal the decision as an "effort to preserve the city's rights."

Council intended to discuss the court decision during an emergency city hall meeting Tuesday morning. Recine said that meeting did not take place, but staff put out a media release about the appeal process to keep the public updated.

"Staff will take the necessary actions related to the carrying out of the appeal process in the interim until further direction from Council is provided in December," according to the release.