The BDS group responsible for the graphic and inflammatory anti-Israel posters seen around Montreal during the 2015 federal election is suing the city for “illegally” taking them down.
Boycott-Désinvestissement-Sanctions (BDS)-Québec is seeking $265,000 for the removal of the posters that accused Israel of murdering Palestinian children, the organization’s spokesperson Bruce Katz said Jan. 30.
During the campaign leading up to the Oct. 19, 2015 election, BDS-Québec installed signs on public property that read, in French, “Israel murders Palestinian children/Harper applauds. What do the other parties say?” and bore a photograph of a lifeless child face down on a beach.
Katz said about 200 posters were put up, in the heart of the city, mainly in the Ville Marie borough. BDS-Québec is claiming that its constitutional right of freedom of expression was violated.
Joining in the lawsuit are the Communist Party of Canada and a dozen organization members and candidates who contributed to the cost of the posters.
Material and punitive damages are claimed. In its defence, the city says the posters were removed “in error.”
The elections commissioner found that the city had committed an offence in “prevent[ing] or impair[ing] the transmission of an election advertising message to the public without the consent of a person with the authority to authorize the transmission.”
That office did not impose a penalty, but Montreal did enter into a compliance agreement with the commissioner in which the city acknowledged its responsibility and committed to ensuring that it will abide by the Canada Elections Act in the future.
The city said it had the posters removed in response to numerous complaints from citizens and was unaware that BDS-Québec was registered with the Chief Electoral Officer as a third party for the election.