Do You Have a Right To Run Subway Ads Criticizing High Subway Fares?
Montreal’s public transit agency is proving to be a prickly pear by refusing to allow a local rider advocacy group to post ads criticizing recent fare hikes at bus stops and rail stations. Those riders are now challenging the agency’s decision in court, arguing that it violates Canada’s free speech protections.
The ads, proposed by the rider advocacy nonprofit ATCRS, criticized Metropolitan Regional Transportation Authority’s (ARTM, in French) decision to raise fares starting this month.
“Logical? Not to us. Let us denounce the rate hike imposed by ARTM” reads an English translation of the ads.
ATCRS proposed the ads in early June. A few weeks later, the Montreal Transit Company (in French, STM), which operates transit in the region, rejected them on the grounds that they “denigrated public transit.”
In response, ATCRS filed an application for judicial review in the Montreal Division of the Superior Court of Quebec against STM and two third-party companies.
“This is a blatant violation of our freedom of expression,” said Axel Fournier, a spokesman for the group. They’re being represented by attorney Samuel Bachand and the Alberta-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a public interest law firm.
Their application argues that the agency’s rejection of their ads is “illegal and unreasonable.”
“The purpose of the advertisement is to defend the affordability of public transit, which is far from denigrating it,” reads the application. It also argues that STM’s rejection of the ads is unconstitutional. They cite a previous case out of British C
Article from Latest