|You wanna put up a sign? Ya gotta talk to Jimmy. (source)|
Pattison has a history of not liking ads by secular and atheist organizations.
According to this press release by Secular Ontario:
A private citizen in Ontario, Dr Richard Thain, a member of Secular Ontario and a supporter of Civil Rights in Public Education, placed an order with Pattison Outdoor Advertising for the creation of six different ads to run on fifty buses in Winnipeg in order to raise public awareness of a human rights issue in Ontario and Alberta. The timing of the ads was intended to coincide with the launch of the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.This effort to abolish publicly funded religious school boards in Ontario has got a lot of support from this blogger in the past.
The ads focus on the publicly-funded Catholic school system in Ontario. They express the opinion that Ontario should establish a single publicly-funded school system with French and English boards, open to all, and abolish public funding of a separate system which gives one religious faith group preferential treatment over all other citizens.
I reached out to Richard via email last night so I could get an idea about the exact wording of these ads along with a clearer backstory.
I signed a contract with Pattison Outdoor Advertising (POA) to rent space on fifty Winnipeg buses for four weeks and a second contract for the "creative" which meant the POA design team would help me with the artwork, layout, font selection, graphics, and even creative writing & ad slogans, if desired, etc. This is service they provide in the "Production Contract" (both the "creative" and then the manufacture of the 30" x 139"styrene posters which go on one side of the buses).Richard tells me that the Pattison account exec wanted him to send in a statement that he would be responsible for the wording of the ads and Richard complied with this request.
The texts for the ads were submitted to Pattison Outdoor with the instruction they were not to be altered or edited and that I was taking responsibility for the wording; they were just doing the artwork.
When the artwork was completed and the ads sent for production, the ads got bogged down in some sort of review process. The president of POA did not tell me what words or phrase(s) he thought violated Ad Council guidelines and asked me to rewrite them and resubmit. I refused.Pattison also expressed concerns about using the verb to Google at the bottom of each ad.
GOOGLE: CIVIL RIGHTS IN PUBLIC EDUCATIONRichard tried to explain to them that the word Google is now a common verb in English (above is verb conjugated in the imperative.) He explained that he wasn't referring to the company but rather the word google has been listed as a verb in the Oxford Dictionary since 2006. You can indeed find it listed at Merriam Webster's online dictionary.
Richard agreed to drop Google and replace it with the generic verb Search -- even though we all know everyone who search will inevitably be googling anyway. This was still not good enough for Pattison.
I can only present the proposed text from the six ads. This is because the graphics were created by Pattison's creative team. Richard did provide me with a short description of them and based on that, I made this very simple graphic, but I've never actually seen them myself.
There was also a stock photo of a child and a highlighted group of words: Equality, Inclusion, Dignity, Respect.
So here's the text that was rejected:
THIS IS A HUMAN RIGHTS DISGRACE!
One third of Ontario's publicly funded teaching positions (Roman Catholic schools) are essentially closed to two thirds of the population, the non-Catholics.
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN CANADA!Note that Ad 2 was going to be modified to read: SHAME ON CANADA! In 1999 the UN Human Rights Committee found Canada guilty of religious discrimination. Canada is still guilty. However, things didn't progress far enough for this to happen.
UN Human Rights Committee finds Canada guilty of religious discrimination in Ontario...twice! (1999, 2005)
You can read more about this UN ruling over at the CBC. The United Nations ruled that Ontario ought to either extend public funding to all religious schools of all religions or stop funding Catholic schools. Obviously the latter makes more sense.
The public funding of religious schools in Ontario and Alberta is an international human rights embarrassment, a financial disaster and a moral disgrace.Ad 4.
END HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN ONTARIO AND ALBERTA NOW.Ad 5.
END THE DISGRACEFUL HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN ONTARIO AND ALBERTA NOW!Ad 6.
Religiously segregated school systems have been eliminated in Manitoba (1890), Quebec (1997) and Newfoundland and Labrador (1998).
ELIMINATE PUBLIC FUNDING FOR ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS IN ONTARIO NOW!So, back to the press release. Apparently, the wording was considered inappropriate by Pattison Outdoor, but they didn't go into detail about exactly what was objectionable about the phrases -- except for the reference to Google which Thain agreed to drop.
"...with respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent." -- Pope Paul VI Dec 7, 1965
Mr Randy Otto, president of Pattison Outdoor officially informed Thain's lawyer, Dan Mayo on September 23, 2014 that they have decided not to accept the ads.Richard Thain is sticking to his guns and is refusing to change is words -- especially since he's not being told which words need to change. However, it's a matter of principle and he maintains it's his right to free expression. Besides, there are no words here that are obviously obscene! They are referring to a UN ruling!
"We would point out to you that the terms and conditions of our agreement with Dr Thain, which he acknowledged and agreed to abide when he signed our media contract, gives Pattison Outdoor Advertising the sole right to refuse to run creative 'which in our opinion' violates Canadian Advertising Foundation guidelines."
Pattison Outdoor considers 'this matter closed.'
Otto did not identify which words or phrases Pattison Outdoor considers to be in violation of `The Canadian Ad Standards.' Thain's lawyer says the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards is a private-sector set of rules which must comply with the Canadian Constitution and Human Rights Act.
Thain points out in a quote on the press release:
"It is ironic that at the same time as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is opening in Winnipeg, Pattison Outdoor is denying my right to free expression," Richard Thain pointed out. "This right is enshrined in The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."It is, indeed. Furthermore, the chairman and sole owner of Pattison Outdoor, Jim Pattison, has a history of picking and choosing the sort of material that gets posted on his signs. It often needs to comply with his fundamentalist Christian and conservative point of view. He's fine with putting up anti-choice and climate change denial posters but has a problem with Greenpeace. Last December, he rejected some completely innocuous banners by CFI -- just... because... God.
This would be fine and all, if Pattison Outdoors didn't have a virtual monopoly on banners. At least this is how things were in Vancouver. I'm uncertain how things are in Winnipeg and would be interested to find out.
The press release ends with the following six groups who support Thain in this endeavor. You can add me to that list.
The following people and groups share a concern regarding the discriminatory public funding of religious schools and agree that it is time to establish a single, secular publicly-funded school system with French and English boards
Leonard Baak: OneSchoolSystem.org (613) 805 0940 email@example.com
Renton Patterson: Civil Rights in Public Education www.CRIPEweb.org (613) 735 5069 firstname.lastname@example.org
Malcolm Buchanan: a past President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) and former General Secretary of the OSSTF (289) 439 0157 email@example.com
Luke Fevin: APUPIL (Albertan Parents for Unbiased Public Inclusive Learning) (780) 700 4007 firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/groups/APUPIL
Patrick Morrow: Winnipeg MN Humanist Atheists Agnostics of Manitoba (HAAM) 204 612 0601 email@example.com mbhumanistsatheists.ca
Eric Adriaans: Toronto ON, Centre for Inquiry Canada (226) 374 0612 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cficanada.ca
Eric Thomas: Humanist Canada, President (613) 242 5060 email@example.com www.humanistcanada.ca