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Anti-abortion group takes Edmonton to court over refusing bridge light colours

Edmonton's High Level Bridge lit up in blue, white and red lights to honour victims of Paris attacks.
Edmonton's High Level Bridge lit up in blue, white and red lights to honour victims of Paris attacks. Courtesy, Peter Taylor

The Alberta March for Life Association is asking a judge to review a City of Edmonton decision to cancel lighting on a bridge in the group’s requested colours.

The pro-life association had applied to a city program that allows community groups to request the High Level Bridge be lit in specific colours to reflect an event or cause.

READ MORE: Special light design on High Level Bridge to symbolize power and water

Documents filed in court say vice-chairman Jerry Pasternak asked for the bridge to be lit in pink, blue and white on May 9 to recognize the association’s annual March for Life.

He says in the filing that the city approved the request in March, but cancelled it in April due to the “polarizing nature of the subject matter.”

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms filed an application for the judicial review on behalf of the association and Pasternak.

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The court application says the city’s decision to cancel the association’s request is unreasonable.

“The bridge has been lit in the past for the following causes: the promotion of sexual and gender diversity, LGBT Pride, various Islamic holidays and celebrations,” said the application.

“The bridge has also, ironically, been lit in association with International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and various disability awareness campaigns.”

READ MORE: The bright ideas behind Edmonton’s Light the Bridge project

The documents say the expression of anti-abortion opinions is part of the diversity of expression in a free society and protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“In denying permission to the applicants to also light the bridge, the City of Edmonton has demonstrated partiality and prejudice on political or ideological grounds.”

The court document alleges that a nearly identical circumstance occurred in 2017.

A spokesperson for the City of Edmonton said it has been notified of the action.

“We are not able to comment, as this is a matter before the courts,” Karen McDonnell said in an emailed statement.

Mayor Don Iveson addressed the issue briefly Tuesday morning.

“I understand the matter is before the courts now and so it’s really for the judicial process to unfold and we’ll see what the results of that are,” he said.

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“I can’t comment any further until that’s resolved.”

The application is to be heard on Nov. 12 in Edmonton’s Court of Queen’s Bench.

With files from Global News.

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