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Anti-abortion leaflets don’t prompt delivery change by Saanich council

Report weighs balancing rights while exploring limiting pamphlet delivery methods
Saanich council discusses a report exploring different options for managing the delivery of graphic materials. (Ella Matte/News Staff)

Since July, Saanich residents have noticed graphic anti-abortion leaflets left in their mailboxes and on their doorsteps.

Many residents have been disturbed by the leaflets and the images used for a variety of reasons, prompting a call for better management of delivery.

In response, Saanich Coun. Teale Phelps Bondaroff brought a report to the Aug. 21 meeting, asking council to explore measures to protect residents from unsolicited graphic leaflets. The report detailed what many municipalities have done, including London, Ont. which requires the envelopes of the leaflets to be opaque and warn residents what is inside before they can open the letter.

“The goal of the leaflet is to upset people,” said Phelps Bondaroff. “They clearly had an impact on some of our residents and that’s why I was happy to write the report. If you go and see a Tarantino film you know what you’re getting into, but if you come home from school and open your mailbox you have no expectation that you should see dismembered bodies and pools of blood.”

The report did not receive a seconder, so it was not received by council.

“It’s not the first time I’ve submitted a progressive motion that has received crickets,” said Phelps Bondaroff.

This didn’t stop a Saanich resident from voicing concerns.

“I toss out the anti-abortion pamphlets,” said Saanich resident Mehdi Najari. “I don’t look at them because I don’t agree with them, but I don’t need the government regulating that for me.”

He is concerned that “it’s dangerous to limit those freedoms” of speech because he believes it should be up to the individual to judge how they want to manage the material after receiving it.

In response, Phelps Bondaroff said “we have a wide range of rights in Canada and the role of government, the role of our counts, is to balance those rights. What you see in other jurisdictions is they have sought to balance those rights. This is in no way stifling people’s freedom of expression but rather it’s balancing the two fundamental rights of freedom of expression and privacy.”

ALSO READ: ‘Very disturbing’: Greater Victoria residents disgusted by anti-abortion flyers

About the Author: Ella Matte

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