'It’s about human decency': London MPP introduces act to prevent graphic flyer distribution
London, Ont. took the lead, and now a local MPP wants the province to follow suit.
London North Centre MPP Terence Kernaghan re-introduced the Viewer Discretion Act (VDA) at Queen’s Park Monday.
The VDA is a private member’s bill that will ensure graphic images delivered to residences are concealed in an envelope with a warning label.
“This would require that images of this nature would be concealed in an envelope with a clear warning label indicating what their contents are,” said Kernaghan. “People would have the choice whether or not they choose, or choose not to engage with this type of material.”
He compares the act to video games, music, or movies which all have warning labels if there is explicit content.
“I was literally put into a situation where my grief came back,” said Katie Dean, who first received a flyer in her mailbox in 2012. “I have suffered a loss, and this triggered my trauma.”
In 2020 when Dean heard these flyers were making their way around neighbourhoods in London, she took action.
“Something needs to stop as so many people are being traumatized,” said Dean. “Children are finding these images and they are having nightmares.”
She formed the Viewer Discretion Legislation Coalition (VDLC) and started advocating to London City Council to have a by-law passed prohibiting the unsolicited distribution of these images.
She was thrilled when London passed the by-law on May 4, 2022, and now others are jumping on board.
“Woodstock just passed the same bylaw a couple of weeks ago,” said Dean. “St. Catharines is working on the same by-law and even Calgary. So it's very exciting. If we could do it provincially we wouldn't have to deal with all the municipalities we could just do it one lump sum provincially.”
Like London’s by-law, the VDA would also require the name and address of the person distributing the material, and a warning label on the outside of a sealed envelope.
“We're not taking away your freedom of expression,” said Dean. “We're just asking you to put them in envelopes for you deliver them with a viewer discretion warning.”
Kernaghan is hoping this will be brought forward to second reading, then committee stage and third reading to become law.
“Nobody believes that children should be inflicted with these gory, problematic images,” said Kernaghan.
He’s received support from the official opposition and constituents from municipalities across the province, and believes the VDA should be passed.
“It is a nonpartisan issue,” said Dean. “This is literally just about human decency.”
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