8 Canadian books people have sought to ban in Canada

Over the decades people have sought to ban numerous books by Canadian authors

Over the decades people have sought to ban from libraries numerous books by Canadian authors because they didn’t like what was contained within their pages. Here are some attempts, listed in reverse chronological order, compiled by the freedom of expression committee at the Book and Periodical Council:

1. Contes pour buveurs attardés by Michel Tremblay: In 2010, a mother in Laval, Que., sought to have the book removed from a school reading list because she didn’t want her son exposed to “such promotion of Satanism and pedophilia.” The school board rejected her demand.

2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: In 2008, a parent in Toronto sought to have the novel taken off a Grade 12 English class because of “profane language,” anti-Christian overtones and “sexual degradation.” A Toronto District School Board review recommended the book be kept.

3. New American and Canadian Poetry edited by John Gill: In 1994, the school board in Sechelt, B.C., removed the book from a high school after a parent complained it offered anti-establishment views and presented sex in a positive light. The board later reversed its decision, but the sole copy was stolen and never replaced.

4. Dance Me Outside by W.P. Kinsella: In 1994, the library at a Barrie, Ont., Roman Catholic school pulled the book after complaints from an Onkwehonwe anti-racism alliance because parts of it “might be objectionable if taken out of context.”

5. The Wars by Timothy Findley: In 1991, a Lambton County, Ont., high school student asked for the novel to be taken off the curriculum, arguing a passage about the rape of a Canadian soldier encouraged students to accept homosexuality. The school board chose to keep the book.

6. Canadian Poetry: The Modern Era edited by John Newlove: In 1987, the book, along with several novels by Margaret Laurence, including The Stone Angel and The Diviners, came under attack from a parents group in Victoria County, Ont. The school board refused to remove the books.

7. Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro: In 1982, Toronto parents sought to have the book removed from the high school curriculum because of the “language and philosophy of
the book” but the school board rejected their demand.

8. The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler: In 1982, in Etobicoke, Ont., the school board was asked to stop teaching the book, but refused.

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8 Canadian books people have sought to ban in Canada

  1. You can add “Foxfire” by Joyce Carol Oates to the list; It’s about a teenage gang of girls. A religious group in Milton, Ontario, tried to get it banned from my Grade 12 English class when I was in high school there in the mid-1990s. The preacher said it would promote unChristian behaviour.

  2. I have read at least 4 of these books and survived. It makes you wonder how people can’t see beyond their own four walls to appreciate literature for what it is and how it promotes thought in its readers.

  3. I think it’s hilarious (and scary, and sad) that someone would object to a book because “it represented sex in a positive light”.

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