Politics
Free speech protects 'disrespectful' 9/11 conspiracy bus ads: Ottawa mayor

ReThink911 in Ottawa

Credits: ReThink911

JON WILLING | QMI AGENCY

OTTAWA -- The right to free speech, not to mention city's advertising policy, allows a 9/11 conspiracy group to advertise on public buses, Mayor Jim Watson said Thursday.

A campaign called "ReThink911", by Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, includes ads in Ottawa and 11 other major cities this month. The group questions the cause of the collapse of World Trade Centre

Building 7 on Sept. 11, 2001, and the "government account" of the terrorist attacks.

One ad says, "Did you know a 3rd tower fell on 9/11?"

"I disagree with the sentiment of the truther movement, obviously. I think it's very disrespectful ... but we do in this country have free speech, and at the end of the day they met council's (advertising) standards and they're allowed on the buses.," Watson said.

"The transit commission can review those. I encourage them to do so. We disagree with the message, but free speech is an important principle in our society."

ReThink911 posted a statement on its website Thursday thanking Ottawa's OC Transpo for permitting the ads. The group also pushes back against critics of the campaign.

"The ReThink911 coalition includes 9/11 victims' family members who want nothing more than an accurate and unbiased accounting of the death of their loved ones," the statement says. "To these surviving family members, seeking the truth is the most profound way to honour their loved ones. Your words ignore their search for truth and cause more pain."

The group adds: "If free speech does not protect the right to make factually uncontroversial statements in public, what does it protect? Any effort to remove the ReThink911 ads or curtail free speech on OC Transpo would likely be ruled unconstitutional in a court of law.

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