Lawyer cautions HRM: end poster harassment

Halifax Regional Municipality has retreated, tail between legs, from its unconstitutional war on music festival posters. The lawyer who faced them down wants to make sure the tail stays put.

Evolve-Posterjust as the issue was going to trial, municipal prosecutors dropped charges against Evolve Festival organizer Jonas Colter, whom HRM police had  pursued with unseemly vigor for advertising the alternative music event on sidewalk utility poles.

That’s a relief for Colter, who was facing $4500 in fines, but a disappointment for lawyer Gordon Allen, who believed his bro bono had a strong case on free speech grounds. Allen hoped a court judgment would deter similar police mischief in future. He has urged the municipal prosecutor’s office to advise by police of the unenforceability of the city’s restrictive poster bylaw, and warned them he will offer to represent anyone similarly charged at no cost.

“Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of a healthy, functioning society,” Allen said.

Contrarian says, “Let 10,000 posters bloom.” Posters are visual evidence of the city’s thriving arts, music, and theatre culture. The culture they reflect is a big part of what makes the city a great place to live and visit. It adds enormously to our economy and to the quality of our lives. Too bad HRM officials can’t seem to get that.