A Chronicle of Freedom of Expression
barbed wire

Canada is in many ways a free country, particularly by world standards. It is also, however, a nation that has always tolerated a remarkable amount of censorship, and spawned dismaying numbers of self-appointed guardians of taste and morality.

The Freedom of Expression Committee of the Book and Periodical Council keeps track of incidents of censorship and speaks out in support of freedom of expression, which is enshrined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The committee also sponsors Freedom to Read Week every year.The BPC is an umbrella organization of industry assocations representing writers, publishers, editors, librarians, booksellers, manufacturers and marketers.

The Chronicle of Freedom of Expression in Canada started out several years ago as an internal document for the Freedom of Expression Committee. Members needed a quick "cheat sheet" for answering questions from the media. What kind of censorship events have taken place in Canada, and when did they occur?

The sheet was included in the next Freedom to Read Week Kit, and in spring 1995 I put it a hypertext version up on my personal home page. The page immediately became so popular (160 MB downloaded in the first month) that my then ISP threatened to charge me commercial rates if I didn't move it.

Enter Electronic Frontier Canada, which generously offered to host the chronicle. Many thanks to Prof. David Jones who has been an unfailing supporter of the site since it began.

-Sandra Bernstein

Part One of the Chronicle: 1914-1994

Part Two of the Chronicle: 1994 -present

More Information:

A few of the magazines and books that have been detained or banned by Canada Customs.
When the Censor Comes -- a guide for teachers, librarians and booksellers
More censorship links.

This chronology was compiled by Sandra Bernstein on behalf of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada and the Book and Periodical Council, in collaboration with Electronic Frontier Canada. While she has tried to make it as accurate as possible, neither Sandra Bernstein nor any of these organizations is responsible for the consequences of any errors or omissions.

Last updated August 10, 2001

© Sandra Bernstein 1997,1998,2001