Bus ad questioning 9/11 sparks call for review of OC Transpo policies

This ad for Rethink911.org appears on an OC Transpo bus. (Submitted by Andres Acero )

The chair of Ottawa's transit commission says she will ask for a review of OC Transpo's advertising policy after an ad from a group questioning the official explanation of the 9/11 attacks ran on one of the city's buses.

The people behind "Re-think 9-11" have launched a global ad campaign, running in other cities including New York and Toronto, in which they take aim at the U.S. government's explanation that World Trade Centre 7 — the "third tower" — fell as the result of fire.

The group instead proposes the building fell because of a controlled demolition planted weeks or months before.

The theory is part of the groups' larger beliefs that the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001 was not a result of a terrorist attack but rather part of a vast conspiracy and cover-up within the U.S. government.

Carleton University student Andres Acero first spotted one of the group's ads aboard an OC Transpo bus earlier this week. A volunteer with a campus first responders group, Acero thinks the ads are disrespectful to the first responders who lost their life during the 9/11 terrorist attack.

"Take it down. There should be no reason why it's on there. Just take it down. Maybe send an apology to the families of September 11 and all the victims," said Acero.

OC Transpo said the company that manages ads aboard its buses ensures those ads adhere to the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, but that the ad company said in this case, it ran the ad past OC Transpo just to be sure, and got the OK.

Transit commisioner Diane Deans said it's a "difficult challenge" to balance the constitutional right to free speech with community acceptability.

But she said the "Rethink 9-11" ads deserved a closer look before they were approved, particularly on the anniversary of the catastrophe.

"To have those ads running on buses seems, at the very least, insensitive," said Deans.

Deans said she'll ask for a review of OC Transpo's ad policies at the next meeting of the transit commission.

Councillor Rainer Bloess, who also sits on the commission, said he doesn't subscribe to the "Re-think" group's message but said he also thinks freedom of speech should be protected, within limits.

"I do believe there's nothing wrong with provoking a little thought in our residents," said Bloess.