Welcome to Reformed Perspective, I’m Alexandra Ellison. Today we are here in Hamilton, Ontario right outside the Provincial Court to cover ARPA‘s legal battle against the city of Hamilton in a case that has captured the attention of pro-life advocates. The central issue is whether ARPA Hamilton has the right to display a pro-life advertisement on the side of a city bus. In the spring of 2021 ARPA Hamilton attempted to post a pro-life ad on a city bus when MP Cathay Wagantall’s bill to ban sex-selective abortion was before Parliament.
John Boekee: The work we were doing at the time was advocating for the sex-selective abortion bill. The ad said we’re for women’s rights, and through pictures, it applied that to women of several different ages. We thought to say that we’re for women’s rights shouldn’t be that controversial. Yet they were able to connect it to abortion, so for that reason, it was rejected.
The city’s reasoning for rejecting the ad is rooted in their assertion that a pre-born child does not qualify as a human being under the criminal code, and thus is not a person. Using a personal pronoun implied personhood and was thus misleading.
John Sikkema: In our case against the City of Hamilton, we had a fairly brief hearing at the Ontario Court in the city of Hamilton. The court decided that Hamilton was not justified in rejecting our ad, so in that sense, the case was a win for ARPA. The court said that the city had not explained to us, in writing, how it limited our freedom of expression, and so the court sent it back. The court said this decision fails – you, the city of Hamilton, need to give reasons on freedom of expression. Now, truth be told, that’s not how we wanted to win. We had actually framed the case, not as a freedom of expression case, first of all, but as questioning the city’s finding that our ad violates the city’s advertising policy. So what we had wanted was for the court to look at that policy and to find that the ad does not violate it and we think we had pretty good arguments for why that was the case. The court didn’t hear those arguments and kind of decided it on, again, a bit of a more technical issue. So while it’s a technical win, it’s not really what we wanted to accomplish with this case because pro-life ads keep getting rejected as being allegedly misleading, and violating advertising policy. So, at this point, we have to decide, do we wait to see what the next decision is from the City of Hamilton and challenge that? Do we possibly appeal the decision of this court even though technically we won? Those are things we’ll have to decide as we get the written reasons from the court for its decision, which we don’t have yet.
John Boekee: When you are frustrated with human judges and human courts, we turn to that, that He is the judge of all the earth, and in the end there will be justice. We are thankful for that, and we can rest in that. But there is also frustration at human judges who give us so little time after so much work had been put in, so that is very frustrating. But we can be thankful that there is still appeal, and there is still a justice system. So trusting that God is the Judge of all the earth, that also gives us the motivation to keep working and to keep going day-to-day to do what He’s called us to.
And that wraps up our coverage of the ARPA Hamilton case. We’ll continue to follow this case closely and bring updates as they unfold. Thank you for joining us today – please feel free to support our work by subscribing to this channel and sharing this video with friends and family. For Reformed Perspective, I’m Alexander Ellison in Hamilton, Ontario.