Codiac Transpo seeks removal of ad from anglophone rights group

Codiac Transpo has requested that an ad from the controversial Anglophone Rights Association of New Brunswick that appeared on buses in the greater Moncton area be removed.

The ad asked the question: "Do you feel the implementation of Bilingualism has gone too far?" and directed readers to the group's email and website.

In a Facebook post, Codiac Transpo said it has asked the firm in charge of advertising on city buses to remove the ad.

"Although Codiac Transpo, the City of Moncton, the City of Dieppe and the Town of Riverview are not part of the content approval process, we do require advertising to be respectful toward everyone in our community," said Codiac Transpo.

"It has come to our attention that an advertisement appearing on one of our buses does not follow the City's position on bilingualism."

The city of Moncton declared itself officially bilingual in 2002.

'Disrespectful' and 'divisive'

In an email, the Acadian Society of New Brunswick commended Codiac Transpo for quickly seeking the removal of the ad, but that it should never have been approved from the outset.

"The publication of this ad was disrespectful to both official language communities and should have been rejected by Codiac Transpo and their third-party advertising partners," said the society.

The society said that groups like the Anglophone Rights Association "must be called out for their divisive rhetoric" and asks why the ad had not been flagged as offensive before it was posted.

"Are there advertising policies in place meant to prevent such situations from arising?" said the society. 

"If so, why did the system fail? If not, the time come for all levels of government to look at service delivery models that prevent advertisers from promoting divisive and untruthful messages or otherwise publicize the euphemistic propaganda of organizations like the ARA."

Moncton city councillor Charles Léger said he also questions why the ad was allowed on the bus.

"What are the checks and balances that are in writing that can help so that we don't have to have this conversation again," said Léger.

Michel Doucet, a lawyer and former University of Moncton law professor said he doesn't think the ad reflects the values of the greater Moncton area, but having it on a city bus lends legitimacy to the message.

He thinks the city was right to ask to have the ads removed.

Facebook/Nicole Doiron

"These people have the right to oppose official bilingualism, it's part of the free speech," said Doucet.

"But I believe that the municipalities should be more careful of the types of messages that are found in the [ads] inside the institutions which are part of the municipality or on businesses which form part of the municipality."

No comment from association

In an email sent from the address included on the Anglophone Rights Association advertisement, a member of the group's executive team said they do not "have any comment at this time."

This isn't the first time the group has come under fire for its advertising in the Moncton area.

In 2016, the group rented a billboard advertising an upcoming meeting in the city. The ad included the text "English have rights too!"