Censorship

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Censorship
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Canada 🇨🇦 is a North American country.

It is a Dominion with freedom of speech protected by the Canadian Constitution. Because Canada is a free country, modern censorship is rare.

General censorship[]

  • Canadian federal law considers material depicting any sexual activity by any character under 18 as child pornography, whether drawn, live-action, or written. Although there is a clause excluding material with an "artistic purpose", the line isn't very clearly defined. Furthermore, the age of consent in Canada is 16, meaning that it is entirely possible for material to be banned because it depicts an otherwise legal sexual act involving a character between 16 and 18 years old. For some reason, Cardcaptor Sakura wasn't banned despite the unfortunate implications of several relationships (especially that of Terada and Rika) - as evidenced by the Toronto-based Nelvana, which produced the original English dub.
  • Canada's national customs authority used court rulings about material depicting "violence against women" as somehow encompassing male gay erotica.
  • Strangely, the influence of lobby groups causes a frequent circumvention of the censorship trends, as Canadian private broadcasters self-regulate through the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council; this entity can easily bow to pressure to refuse to air certain content. The state broadcaster, the CBC, does not participate in this scheme, and they can thus get away with more than the private networks can. (It and other public broadcasters are directly regulated by the CRTC.)
  • In Canada, radio and television broadcasters have to present a minimum amount of Canadian content. While there has been some griping about it, these rules worked wonders for Canadian popular music over the years. Once, before these regulations, Canadian artists were so ignored that radio broadcasters literally broke records in front of some musicians pleading for some airtime; now the Canadian music scene has flourished to the point where all Canadian music stations exist with big international stars who wouldn't think of leaving Canada. Due to this law, for a non-Canadian, it is a surreal experience to listen an oldies radio station, as 35-40% of the songs have to be by Canadian artists, a couple of familiar hits can be heard, with Canadian artists who became internatioanlly successful being overrepresented, such as Anne Murray, The Guess Who, and Gordon Lightfoot. The same rules occasionally have spillover effects: for instance, in the 1990s, at least one of the major alternative-rock stations in the Detroit radio market was actually based in Windsor, across the Canadian border; the effect were
    • Songs by Barenaked Ladies were abundantly played on that station, to the point that people got sick of it
    • A substantial number of people Michigan have not only heard of The Tragically Hip, but actually like them (unlike most of the United States).
      • On the other hand, as to Barenaked Ladies really are pretty popular in Metro Detroit, partly because of the aforementioned station; there's a reason that one of their live albums is a recording of a concert at DTE Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan.) The same is true of other genres — for instance, by listening a Canadian country station, mainstream country music blended in with names like Tim Hicks, Dean Brody, Lindsay Ell, and Dallas Smith, none of whom have made much noise in the States if at all, can be heard.
          • The same laws forced game shows taped in Canada for American TV (such as Super Pay Cards) to have Canadian personalities on-camera in additional segments and the like. This posed a problem for the USA Network's revival of Chain Reaction, which taped in Montreal. When original Canadian-born host Blake Emmons left after the first few weeks, Geoff Edwards was brought in to replace him. But this meant they were breaking CanCon laws in the process, as Edwards was an American. The solution was to have announcer Rod Charlebois appear on-screen every episode, playing a minigame of sorts with Geoff.

Book censorship[]

  • Droll Stories - this collection of short stories by Balzac was banned for obscenity in 1914.
  • By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept - this autobiographical prose poetry by Elizabeth Smart was banned in Canada from 1945 to 1975 under the influence of Smart's family's political power due to its sexual documentation of Smart's affair with a married man.
  • The Naked and the Dead - this novel by Norman Mailer was banned in Canada in 1949 for "obscenity".
  • Lolita - this novel written by Vladimir Nabokov was banned in Canada in 1958, though the ban was later lifted.
  • Peyton Place - this novel by Grace Metalious was banned in Canada between 1956 and 1958.
  • Nègres blancs d'Amérique (White N***ers of America) - this political work by Pierre Vaillères, which deals with Quebec politics and society; written while the author was incarcerated. An edition published in France was not allowed into Canada; an edition was published in the US in 1971.
  • The Hoax of the Twentieth Century - this non-fiction book by Arthur Butz was classified as "hate literature" in Canada (due to Holocaust denial content) with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police destroying copies as recently as 1995.
  • American Psycho - this novel was banned during its first release.
  • Lethal Marriage - this true crime work written by Nick Pron, a newspaper reporter, about the Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka case, allegedly contains inaccuracies, additionally, complaints were received by the St. Catharines library board from the mother of a victim that led to the book being removed from all public library branches in the city. As recently as 1999 this book was still unavailable to public library patrons in St. Catherines.
  • Noir Canada - this documentary book by Alain Deneault was banned from sale in Canada following two defamation lawsuit from Barrick Gold and Banro and an out-of-court settlement

Internet censorship[]

Movie censorship[]

The first Canadian censor board was formed in Ontario in 1911; each province followed suit shortly afterwards, but Ontario became the "main" censor where films would go first for approval and cuts before being handed down to other provinces for their own approval and cuts. While most of features were deemed unacceptable closely mirrored those of the Hays Code, a few were peculiar to Canada, such as any depiction of American flags and patriotism (to avoid hurting Canadian nationalism and pro-British sentiments). As censorship standards became more relaxed in the 1950s, provinces began turning to classification, with Manitoba the first to fully abandon censorship for classification in the 1960s.

  • Damaged Goods - this film about a young couple contracting syphilis was banned in Ontario.
  • Little Caesar - this crime film was banned in Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia.
  • The Life of Emile Zola - this biographic film was banned in Quebec. However, since 1997, the movie was unbanned and was rated "G".
  • Scarlet Street - this noir film about criminals taking advantage of a middle-aged painter to steal his artwork was banned in New Brunswick.
  • Wicked Lady - this film about a nobleman's wife who becomes a highwayman for the excitement was banned in New Brunswick.
  • The Wild One - this film banned in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec. The bans were eventually overturned, at least in Quebec where the film was rated 14+ in 1968 and re-rated G in 2013.
  • Forever Amber - this film was banned in Quebec, but in 1994 the ban was overturned and the film got rated as "G".
  • Tom Jones (1963) - this film was banned in Alberta. Two years later, the state reversed its decision and the film is allowed to be shown since then.
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - this film was censored by Nova Scotia, describing it as "obscene and blasphemous". After an appeal from the distributor and media coverage, the decision was later reversed and the film was rated "Restricted".
  • Warrendale - this film was banned in Manitoba due to the language. However, the decision was reversed due to public outcry.
  • Romeo and Juliet (1968) - this film was banned in Ontario.
  • Cotton Mill, Treadmill (On est au coton)- this 1970 documentary about the conditions of the textile workers in Quebec had its release blocked by the National Film Board of Canada for its politically sensitive nature (the NFB was alarmed by the appareance of two Quebec Liberation Front (FLQ) members who issued a call for armed revolution in the film), as the film was completed at the height of the October Crisis. In 1976, an edited version of the film was released, but its unedited version was released in 2004.
  • Women in Love - this film was banned in Alberta by the provincial censors due to nudity.
  • A Clockwork Orange - this film was banned in Alberta and Nova Scotia, where both bans were eventually overturned and classified the film R.
  • Pink Flamingos - this film was edited in several provinces and outright banned in Nova Scotia until 1997.
  • Heavy Traffic - this film was banned in Alberta.
  • Pretty Baby - this film was banned in Ontario by the Ontario Censor Board. However, the ban was repealed in 1995.
  • Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens -this sexploitation film was banned in Nova Scotia.
  • Caligula - this film was banned on its initial release (except in Quebec, where it was rated 18+) for its sexually explicit content.
  • The Tin Drum - this film was banned in Ontario as the Provincial film board deemed it as child pornography.
  • Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography - This feminist documentary critique of the pornography industry was banned in Ontario for its pornographic content, although that decision was ultimately overturned.
  • Beau Pere - this French film about a man having sex with a minor was banned in Ontario.
  • I Spit on Your Grave - this horror film was banned in Nova Scotia until 1998.
  • Day of the Dead - this horror film was banned in Ontario and the Maritimes, with a cut, 97 minute version passed in Ontario. The original version (which lasted 101 minutes) was resubmitted to the Ontario Film Review Board in 2008 and given a R rating. The 101-minute version was granted an R rating in the Maritimes.
  • Blue Velvet - this film was banned in New Brunswick. However, its ban became moot when the province started to use the ratings provided by the Maritime Film Classification Board, which gave it an R rating.
  • Death Scenes - this video series is banned in Nova Scotia.
  • Exit to Eden - this film was temporarily banned in Saskatchewan. Nonetheless, the backlash against the ban proved so fierce that the Saskatchewan Film and Video Classification Board quit classifying movies on its own and made an agreement with the British Columbia Film Classification Office in 1997 to use their ratings.
  • Bumfights - This series of shot-on-tape reality productions, is banned in seven of the thirteen provinces and territories; the remaining give it an R rating. As of 2016, the films are still banned in Quebec.

Television censorship[]

In Canada, broadcasters have to present a certain minimum amount of Canadian content, which forced game shows taped in Canada for American TV (such as Super Pay Cards) to have Canadian personalities on-camera in additional segments and the like. This posed a problem for the USA Network's revival of Chain Reaction, which taped in Montreal. When original Canadian-born host Blake Emmons left after the first few weeks, Geoff Edwards was brought in to replace him. But this meant they were breaking Canadian Content laws in the process, as Edwards was an American. The solution was to have announcer Rod Charlebois appear on-screen every episode, playing a minigame of sorts with Geoff. Said quota also bedeviled MuchMusic when that network launched an American feed in 1994. People complained about the network's Canadian origins and focusing on Canadian artists nobody south of the border really cared about. This led to the network splitting off as MMUSA in 2001 and a full rebrand as Fuse in 2003.

Instances of Television censorship[]

  • Doctor Who - the episode "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" was refused airing by Ontario TV after Chinese-Canadian groups who were given precautionary test screenings were angered by its Yellow Peril content.
  • The Swamp Fox - this Disney show which aired circa 1968 on "Walt Disney Presents", was banned as the Canadian government didn't like the portrayal of the Tory/Loyalist characters as complete villains. Ironically, the series' star, Leslie Nielsen, hails from Canada.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - its tenth episode, "Jungle Cruise", was skipped by YTV due to its graphic content on the show's first rotation. In this case, it shows a serial killer who skins his victims alive and plugs his eyes into them so they can watch themselves being killed. However, due to outcry from the fans, it was later played in a marathon of episodes, and on the show's second run, albeit with a special content warning that the level of violence was above the usual level for something allowed on YTV.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • 1939 cartoon "Thugs With Dirty Mugs" was banned back in Winnipeg, Manitoba, at that time due to a joke near the end of the cartoon where a criminal declares himself to be "a naughty little boy". The censors deemed that this ending was "not sincere and just an excuse to show criminal activity."
    • The 1954 Bugs Bunny short "Bewitched Bunny", which ends with Bugs transforming Witch Hazel into a lady bunny with a more feminine voice but retaining Hazel's evil laugh, was banned by the National Film Board because of Bugs' fourth wall-breaking line "Ah sure, I know. But aren't they all witches inside?", being perceived as misogynistic. Three days later, however, ban was lifted, but the line was edited out of later broadcasts in the 1980s, being replaced with "Sure uh, I know. But after all, who wants to be alone on Halloween?" The edited version has since ceased airing in favour of the original version.
  • Kevin Spencer - this series had its eight episode banned for violence and disgusting humor.
  • The Powerpuff Girls - the episode "The Rowdyruff Boys" did not air on the original YTV broadcast, but was later shown as part of reruns.

Video game censorship[]

  • Soldier of Fortune, Manhunt and Manhunt 2 were labeled as "adult motion pictures" by the British Columbia Film Classification Office, prohibiting sale to persons younger than 18 in the province.

Other censorship[]

  • In 2022, Huawei and ZTE devices were deemed security risks and banned by the Canadian government. Telecom companies in Canada were also ordered to divest themselves of all such equipment by June 2024.[1]

References[]

  1. Huawei and ZTE 5G solutions are banned in Canada by Gadjo Sevilla, Insider Intelligence. 2022-05-23.

External links[]

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