Canada Customs Burns Books

Canada Customs disposed of a thousand dollars worth of magazines in an incinerator in a warehouse in St. Laurent, Quebec after banning their entry into Canada. “The magazines were being held at the warehouse while we were making arrangements for them to be sent out of the country, as per subsection 102(1) of the Canada Customs Act,” said Esther Vincent of Marginal Distribution. Marginal is a distributor of independently published books and magazines based in Peterborough. “We wanted to appeal the import prohibition – or at least re-export the goods — but burning the magazines put an end to it,” added Vincent. Canada Customs did not say the magazines were disposed of in error. “Canada Customs expects the importer to write a defense for goods they’ve never seen. And if that does not happen in the allotted time, there is no recourse for the importer. The books can be burned,” said Vincent. “Marginal Distribution’s magazines were burned by Canada Customs, while Marginal was still trying to appeal the prohibition. The magazine, “Other World Kingdom News # 4 ” and the book “Other World Kingdom in Pictures, Vol.’ 1” were imported from the Czech Republic. N o depictions of sex, sexual intercourse or sexually explicit poses are depicted in the publications; they feature photographs of fully clothed women in “disciplinary” situations with partially clothed men. “It’s too easy for Customs agents to make subjective decisions about what they think the public ought to see,” said Vincent. “Perhaps even more troubling, Customs can also make it very difficult for distributors to follow proper appeal channels when challenging those decisions.” “We got burned twice,” she added. “First, by the manner in which Canada Customers withheld information about the appeals process; secondly – and very literally – when our magazines were incinerated by Canada Customs. Canada Customs did not follow their own rules. The magazines did not even quality as obscene under their own regulations. In the end, it was just too easy for someone to throw our magazines onto a bonfire.” Canada Customers also recently banned The Best of Gay Erotica 1999, refusing a shipment into the country even though 400 copies of the book were already on sale in bookstores across Canada.

(Michelle Emmanuel)

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