Bulkley Valley ARPA’s Abortion Memorial Ordered Down by Provincial Government



May 18, 2012

Good news update (May 29): We received word from a Ministry of Transportation official today that this display is allowed to go back up as long as it is located completely on private property.

Smithers, BC – May 18 2012: The District Manager of the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has ordered  a road-side abortion memorial just outside of Smithers be removed. 48 hours notice was given, with the threat that if this wasn’t done the display would be removed by the Ministry and the costs charged to the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) who is behind the display.

The memorial consists of 100 white crosses, attached to fence posts, with small one-word signs that read “Each cross represents 1,000 abortions in Canada every year.”. It was constructed by local youth who wanted to be a voice for those who don’t have their own voice in Canada. The plan was to have the display up for only about three weeks. Similar displays are located across Canada.

Late Thursday afternoon the Ministry sent a letter to ARPA contact person Mark Penninga, stating that the fence posts on which the crosses were located go through Ministry land. As such, they could not be set up without permission. ARPA had received permission from the property owner but was not aware that some of the fence posts went beyond the property line. The letter also stated that “these signs are a safety hazard and a distraction.”

“By calling this a safety hazard the Ministry gets the authority to take extreme measures” explained Penninga. “Of course it is subjective, but it is very difficult to understand how these crosses pose a danger.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that we are being ordered to take these down because of the messages associated with the crosses,” added Penninga. “That isn’t the reasoning being used by the Ministry. But we are all well aware that there are numerous signs in this region that would violate sections of the Transportation Act. The difference is that this is a topic that some people will go to great lengths to censor.”

Although confident that they could challenge this in a court as an infringement of their Charter-guaranteed freedom of expression, ARPA decided to comply with the Ministry’s order. “This is a small town” said Penninga. “It is hard to have open and honest discussions about key issues facing our community because everyone knows each other. We want to maintain a spirit of neighbourly peace. Instead of starting a legal battle, let’s talk about the fact that only China and North Korea are in Canada’s company when it comes to having absolutely no laws protecting the unborn.”

“We want the public to be well-aware of the double standard that exists. Road-side crosses in memory of victims of traffic accidents are the norm and it is very understandable that the Ministry doesn’t take action against them. But put up temporary crosses in memory of the unborn and you will get the full weight of the law thrown at you.”


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