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Censorship at the Canadian border, 1985-2022

The closest thing that Canadians have to a nationwide tally of forbidden documents is the Canada Border Services Agency’s Quarterly List of Admissible and Prohibited Titles, known as the List of Material Reviewed by the Prohibited Importations Directorate prior to 2001. (To subscribe at no cost, write to [email protected].)

The List tells us which titles were suspected of being hateful or obscene, and then held for examination or prohibited outright in Ottawa. At first, such decisions were attributed to the Revenue Minister, but as of 1985 customs officers have relied on guidelines provided by Memorandum D9-1-1. Since then, 59,209 items were singled out, resulting in 19,618 prohibitions over 37 years. Given that the Vatican’s infamous Index Librorum Prohibitorum banned about 4,000 titles over 407 years, Canada’s censors have accomplished quite a feat. What’s more, their policy is still being enforced, while the Index was abolished in 1966.

» Customs Censorship, 1985-2022 (PDF)