Four councillors seek remedy to graphic anti-abortion flyers
LONDON, ONT. -- Graphic anti-abortion flyers sent to London mailboxes in recent weeks have caught the attention of city council.
On Tuesday, a motion co-signed by four councillors will ask that civic administration investigate municipal options to stop the unsolicited distribution of graphic materials door-to-door.
“Consider what other municipalities are doing, come back with some legal options that we can do under our current bylaws,” explains Councillor Elizabeth Peloza. “See if we would have to create some new ones (by-laws) to address resident concerns.”
The letter is signed by Peloza, Councillor Shawn Lewis, Councillor Arielle Kayabaga and Councillor Anna Hopkins.
More than two dozen people rallied outside City Hall on Wednesday, seeking political help to stop the distribution of anti-abortion flyers and roadside signs containing images of aborted fetuses.
“These are bloody, gory images,” explains Katie Dean with the Viewer Discretion Legislation Coalition. “This isn’t just what’s on the outside of the pamphlets that some people are looking at.“
Earlier this month, Londoner Mark Konrad followed two people distributing the flyers door-to-door. He says he was hoping to shield his neighbours and their children from possible psychological trauma.
“We are videotaping them as they are putting patently offensive material in people’s mailboxes,” adds Konrad.
The pamphlets are being distributed by the Calgary-based Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.
The motion drafted by the four councillors asks civic administration to consider, “steps taken by other municipalities and potential amendments to the existing nuisance bylaw, or an introduction of a new bylaw.”
Peloza stresses any bylaw amendment would focus on standards for all unsolicited graphic materials, not just anti-abortion advertisements.
“We may have to take a balanced approach that may not satisfy everyone,” warns Councillor Phil Squire.
He says City Hall is limited in its jurisdiction, though it may be able to consider making ‘no-flyer’ signs enforceable with a bylaw.
“That’s what other jurisdictions have done,” he explains. “The challenge is, if you are going to prevent one type of (unsolicited) mail, you almost have to prevent all the other unsolicited types of mail."
On Tuesday, council’s Community and Protective Services Committee will consider the motion directing staff to examine options.