Censorship at the Canadian border, 1985-2020

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, see cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/alert-avis/piu-uip-eng.html.)

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, 58,349 items were singled out, resulting in 19,185 prohibitions over 31 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, 1985-2020 (PDF)