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Graphic anti-abortion, anti-Trudeau ads surface at Hamilton homes

Some Hamilton residents are furious over graphic anti-abortion flyers that target Liberal leader Justin Trudeau showing up at their homes in recent weeks.
Pictured above is a portion of the graphic pamphlet that was distributed recently in Hamilton, as well as Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto, and other Canadian cities. (CBC)

Some Hamilton residents are furious over graphic anti-abortion flyers that target Liberal leader Justin Trudeau showing up at their homes in recent weeks.

Lower city resident Toni Stephens is especially angry – because it was her 13-year-old son who discovered the flyer in her mailbox early Saturday morning.

"I just don't understand how freedom of speech trumps my rights on my private property, or my kid's rights," Stephens told CBC News.

Rein Ende found the same flyer in his mailbox on Monday. "That was, of course, the civic holiday, and I believe there was no mail delivery that day – so it must have been dropped off by some activist squad," he said.

"This is going to be a long campaign. If this is the level of nastiness we are starting with, where does it go from here?"

Flyer attacks pro-choice Liberal leader

The flyer, which claims Trudeau "supports abortion until birth," is made by the Canadian Centre of Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR).

The group has previously angered residents in Hamilton with a similar ad campaign targeting NDP MP Chris Charlton and by hanging graphic anti-abortion banners off the Lincoln Alexander Parkway.

The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform says it plans to distribute about a million of the postcards across the country by the end of the month. (CBC)

Trudeau is avowedly pro-choice, and has declared that all Liberal MPs must vote along pro-choice lines.

Though this particular flyer only targets Trudeau, the CCBR is non-partisan, spokesperson Jonathon Van Maren told CBC News last week after the same flyers appeared in Calgary. They have also shown up in Saskatoon, Ottawa and Toronto.

"We respond to politicians and federal leaders who refuse to stand up for the human rights of the pre-born and we'll do that essentially no matter what party you belong to," Van Maren said.

The city of Hamilton has asked the provincial and federal governments to step in and pass laws that would prevent images of aborted fetuses from landing on local doorsteps.

Council voted last year to ask for legislation preventing advertising or communications from showing "gruesome and disturbing images."

Political beliefs left in mailbox

Stephens, however, is less than thrilled with the city's response to her situation. She called the city's bylaw enforcement department Tuesday to ask why it was OK for graphic flyers to be left on her property.

"I told the man about my son, and he told me [the flyer] would open the door to talking to my 13-year-old son about abortion," she said.

"I explained to him that it was my choice when and how I spoke to my son about abortion. Not a stranger forcing me to do it because their political beliefs are left in my mailbox for him to find."

The city has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Even Filomena Tassi — a Liberal candidate in Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas who has said she is "pro-life" — denounced the flyers, calling them awful and "disrespectful to everyone." Tassi has said despite her personal beliefs that she would vote along party lines if the issue came up.

"They use horrific imagery to create feelings of fear and disgust. It deeply disturbs me that these flyers being distributed are getting into the hands of children in our community," Tassi said. "These flyers are not coming from a place of love, but from a place of fear and anger. The creators and distributors need to stop."

Canada Post says it does not have the legal right to refuse to deliver the flyers, despite a number of complaints about them.

"We do not have the legal right to refuse delivery of a mail item because we or other people object to its content," Anick Losier said in a statement to CBC News.

"Anyone who has concerns about the content should either contact the publisher or simply dispose of it."

adam.carter@cbc.ca

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