October 18, 2007 - 11:47AM
A tiny Canadian political party that promotes sexual freedom has complained in Federal Court that it was discriminated against by the country's postal service.
The Sex Party is upset that Canada Post refused to distribute a flyer during the 2006 federal election that outlined the group's philosophy, after deeming some its contents to be pornographic.
"We are advocating for rights established for any citizen," said Sex Party leader John Ince, who told a judge in Vancouver that the pamphlet was intended to help recruit new party members and raise donations.
The Vancouver-based party - which advocates liberalisation of Canada's prostitution laws among other issues - says its political mailing ran afoul of rules aimed at prohibiting use of the postal system to distribute mass-mailing flyers for hard-core pornography or other illegal material.
"That is not what our material is," Ince told the court.
Ince, a former lawyer who owns an erotica shop, said the Sex Party does not oppose restrictions on mailing hard-core porn, but said postal officials have been inconsistent in applying their own rules.
Lawyers representing the post office have yet to present their court arguments, but Canada Post said it has an obligation to refuse material that could be seen by children or others who might find it offensive.
Canada Post has denied its motives were political.
The Sex Party, founded in 2005, ran three candidates in that year's provincial election in British Columbia, and the mailing was part of its efforts to become registered as a federal political organisation, Ince said.
Among the political ideas it advocated in the 2005 provincial campaign were increased sex education in schools, more designated public areas for nudists, and the party describes itself as the world's first political party "dedicated exclusively to sex-positive issues".
Ince said Canada Post has a government monopoly on distributing flyers to mailboxes and the low cost of mass mailings is the only way that small political parties can get their message out and gauge public support.
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