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Ad questioning bilingualism on Moncton bus stirs controversy
MONCTON -- A controversial ad on the back of a Moncton public transit bus has reignited a familiar debate around language rights in New Brunswick.
The transit company says neither it nor the municipalities it serves has anything to do with approving advertising content.
Some were surprised after the ad on the back of a Codiac Transpo bus had what some see as a controversial message.
"I was just shocked that something like that made it to public transportation," said resident Julie-Michele Lee.
The ad comes from the Anglophone Rights Association of New Brunswick.
It asks the question: "Do you feel the implementation of bilingualism has gone too far?"
It's a question some say has a divisive undertone.
"In opposing official bilingualism in a certain respect you're opposing equality and you're opposing the Francophones' ability to participate in public life," said Eric Dow of Societe de l'acadie.
The City of Moncton refused multiple requests for an on-camera interview Monday, instead directing CTV to a Facebook post by Codiac Transpo, which was shared by the city's official page.
The post said in part: "The advertising contract for buses and shelters is managed by a private sector company. 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 Dow: "I think that obviously there was a lack of oversight, or even a lack of advertising policies in place to kind of prevent that kind of situation from happening."
But the group behind the ad vehemently denies its message is anti-bilingualism.
In a statement to CTV they say in part:
"The Anglophone Rights Association of New Brunswick does not oppose bilingualism as is being stated by some publicly. Those who are perpetuating the notion that ARANB is opposed to bilingualism are intentionally attempting to avoid meaningful discussion that would lead to fair and equitable resolution to the issues."
At the bus stop, there was no shortage of opinion on what many see is a 'freedom of speech' debate.
"Our veterans fought for freedom of speech, fought for peace," said resident Lois Dunfield. "We have a right to our opinion the same as the French have a right to their opinion."
Another resident, Jeenne Smith, supports bilingualism.
"They need to accept that two languages are very necessary in this country," Smith said. "They can't turn their back on them. Yes, English is still the first language, but French is still needed."
A spokesperson from the city of Moncton says the ads were removed from the bus Saturday night.