If you’re a Canadian, do you believe you have the right to read whatever you like? If you do, you’re not alone, even though you are sadly and grossly mistaken.
Canada, believe it or not, has a long and sordid history of banning books and magazines that some unelected and unaccountable bureaucrat has decided you should not read.
You see, the Freedom to read what I like is covered by Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which reads as follows:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.
How can I possibly have the Right to “thought, belief, opinion and expression” if I have no right to read books, magazines or articles that will help me to determine precisely what it is that I believe?
That’s right… I can’t, and that is why banning books, magazines and yes, even websites, is a direct violation of my Section 2 Charter Rights.
It’s also the reason that the entire Canadian Human Rights industry violates my Charter Rights as well, but that’s a larger issue to be covered another time.
These banned books generally fall into two categories: books of a sexual nature and books that advocate individual Freedom. The former are considered perverse; the latter too dangerous to the powers that be.
Little Sisters Bookstore in downtown Vancouver, a gay and lesbian book and magazine retail outlet, has long battled with Canada’s Border Services Agency (CBA) over the banning of books destined for the store.
They fought for years to stop CBA employees from dictating what can and cannot be imported into Canada, with little success. If you want the full story of the Little Sisters Bookstore saga, you can read that on their website.
It’s not about gay or lesbian books and magazines, it’s about the freedom to read whatever I want without some government bureaucrat telling me otherwise. That’s the stuff of Nazi Germany circa 1939, not Canada circa 2012.
Challenged, Not Banned, the government cries
Naturally, the government maintains they do NOT ban books, and technically, they could be considered correct. The actual list of banned books in Canada is quite short, if Wikipedia is to be believed. They list only seven books.
However, the list of books that are routinely seized at the border and not allowed into the country is very, very long. A partial list maintained by FreedomToRead.ca (pdf link, opens in new window) runs some 38 pages long.
The government maintains that these books are not banned, they are merely challenged.
What’s the difference?
None, as far as I can tell. If the book isn’t allowed into Canada, common sense dictates that it’s banned.
If a book is routinely seized by Canadian Border Service agents, common sense says that book is banned.
Not all books that are banned make it onto the list maintained by FreedomToRead.ca for the simple reason that nobody has made them aware of it.
One such book that has been routinely seized at the border is the 800-page critique of America’s constitution-hating government, Unintended Consequences by John Ross. This book is widely considered a “must-read book” by freedom enthusiasts of all stripes, and is an imaginary look at a series of events leading America back to a true Constitutional Democracy.
Widely acclaimed by firearm owners and freedom lovers, Canada’s Border Services Agency is clearly afraid of the massive budget cuts they would suffer if such ideas ever took hold in Canada. This then is the basis for most book bans, isn’t it? Government fear of an idea.
Naturally, not all copies of John Ross’ Unintended Consequences are seized. My copy, for example, made it through unscathed many years ago, but my copy appears to be in the minority.
John Ross himself explains why his publisher stopped attempting to ship the book to Canada in the FAQ on his website, JohnRoss.net.
Didn’t I hear Unintended Consequences was banned in Canada? Why?
This is partly true. There were cases where Canadian customs agents were confiscating copies at the border (they have the authority to do this) and my publisher got fed up to the point that they no longer ship this title to Canada. As to why, don’t forget that Canada is a socialist country. You may think of them as a sort of arctic Nebraska, but they do not have a Constitution and Bill of Rights like we do. They have socialized medicine and they ban books.
Ross’ condemnation of Canada’s socialism is not tempered by the fact we currently have a Conservative-led government. That is utterly meaningless.
Like in so many other government agencies, the policies written by former Liberal governments and their socialist bureaucrats remain in place today and, more importantly, are enforced today by a Conservative-in-name-only government.
Whether a book is banned because it contains homo-erotic content or because it contains thought-provoking ideas of individual Freedom, the issue remains the same:
Should an unelected and unaccountable government bureaucrat have the power to censor what you read?
The answer is, of course, (for any rational person at least) unequivocally and emphatically “NO!”
Then again, the same answer applies to the Trudeaupian Human Rights Tribunals and Councils that terrorize our Right to Freedom of Speech across Canada, and the Conservative government of Stephen Harper has, so far, deemed that to be just fine with them.
The Canadian Library Association has an excellent Statement on Intellectual Freedom that opens with this:
All persons in Canada have the fundamental right, as embodied in the nation’s Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly. This right to intellectual freedom, under the law, is essential to the health and development of Canadian society.
Freedom of Thought, Belief, Opinion and Expression, as clearly defined in Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, demands that a truly Conservative federal government remove the unaccountable censors from the Canadian Border Services Agency as well as dismantle the entire Canadian Human Rights industry.
If we had such a government in Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms might actually be worth the paper it’s printed on.
One day, perhaps… One day…