Shocking leaflet at my door: the limits of political canvassing

Image of mailbox

Special post by Christine Purdy

Flyers stuffed in your mailbox. Knocks on your door. Canvassers making sure you get out to vote. With the federal election looming in fall 2015 it’s getting to be that time.

Organizations besides politicians and their supporters get involved in elections too. For example, SEIU Healthcare members work to get out the vote during election time, asking voters to keep public healthcare services top of mind.

In our democratic system everyone has a voice. From time to time those voices can cross the line of decency in the name of partisan gain. Already in this election year that line has been crossed.

I live in a family-oriented suburb of the GTA. My husband went to get the mail the other day while I watched our 2-year-old daughter. When he returned, he came to me and said, "This is the most disturbing thing I have ever seen in my life," handing me what looked like a political flyer.

The flyer was disturbing because it contained graphic images and messaging about abortion, making claims about the position of a federal political leader on this issue. The Toronto Star reported that the Campaign Life Coalition was behind this.

I was furious. No, I was outraged. What campaign manager would think that sending out this kind of literature to my home is acceptable? I am always open to a discussion on politics, including the issue of abortion. However, politics and pro-life vs. pro-choice opinions aside, please do not litter my mailbox with shocking and inappropriate material.

What if my toddler – who is starting to figure out her world – had looked at the pile of mail and saw that picture? What happens when these cards blow out of mailboxes onto the street and children pick them up? There is no control of who the viewing audience will be. Is this organization so desperate to find supporters for its campaign that it is willing to risk the health and mental wellness of innocent children?

Especially in this soon-to-be election period, the public expects organizations and political parties to express their views in many shapes and forms. But to all political types out there: please do not send these types of graphic, disturbing and offensive images to my household or any other! Use your human decency to judge whether you are crossing boundaries for political gain.

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