Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Board slams anti-speeding commercial

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Members of the Winnipeg Police Board want the police service to remove portions of an anti-speeding commercial that has angered members of the disabled community.

Board members at their Friday meeting said disabled individuals and their advocates found the concluding segment of the commercial objectionable.

"The commercial is good, I get the whole thing about slowing down, but... it presents people with disabilities in the position where they feel they can't participate, which we know is not true," board chairman Coun. Scott Fielding said.

The commercial, produced at a cost of $70,000 for the WPS's Just Slow Down campaign, focuses on a young driver who crashes his vehicle when speeding, resulting in the death of a friend. The final scene shows the young driver alone in a wheelchair watching from the sidelines as two other young men play a pickup game of basketball.

The commercial was initially broadcast on television but can now be seen on YouTube.

Police Chief Devon Clunis defended the commercial, explaining it had been reviewed by a human rights advocate, and no one involved in its production intended to offend anyone.

"You have to look at our purpose, what are we trying to say -- we're not trying to say someone in that position certainly can't participate," Clunis said. "I don't think we'll be able to satisfy or think of every single scenario that might cause this type of reaction."

The board members were unanimous in their condemnation of the commercial and its impact on disabled individuals.

"I think you should take it off the Internet and the issue will go away," Fielding said.

Lawyer Paul Edwards said he did not perceive the negativity in the commercial until reading a letter of objection.

"There's no question when I reviewed the (commercial)... that this ran afoul and was quite reasonably perceived in a negative light by those individuals," Edwards said.

Clunis assured the board he would review the commercial and consider editing out the offending segment or removing it entirely from circulation.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 7, 2014 A4

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Updated on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 12:13 PM CDT: adds video

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