1 min

UPS has its own obscenity police

And Canada Customs didn't even ask

Credit: XTRA! files

It’s not only Canada Customs stopping provocative gay and lesbian material en route to Canada – courier giant UPS is doing its bit.

In November UPS refused to deliver a shipment of books from the US publisher Suspect Thoughts to its Peterborough distributor, claiming the anthology The Best Of The Best Meat Erotica would likely be found obscene by Canada Customs.

The anthology, called “hilarious” and “harrowing” by readers on, contains stories about sex – and meat.

Suspect Thoughts publisher and anthology editor Greg Wharton has sent two other sexy books to Canada before without a problem.

“I think this was a narrow-minded employee,” says Wharton.

The box containing 30 copies was returned to him marked with the word “Pornography.”

“That’s just plain bad judgment,” says UPS spokesperson John Wheeler of the note. “For that, all I can do is apologize.”

By Canadian law, the obscenity of imported material is determined on a case by case basis by Customs officials. A 2000 Supreme Court decision ordered Customs to make this pro-cess transparent and fair. But of course, none of that can happen if UPS steps in first, anticipating Canada Customs’ whims.

“We have to protect ourselves as well,” says Wheeler. “Canada has one of the strictest policies in the world in regard to pornographic material and we’re very conservative. It’s a safety net on our part because we are responsible as brokers.”

Wheeler says UPS employees are well trained – but not in Canadian obscenity law.

“I know we don’t make these things up,” says Wheeler.

Customs spokesperson Colette Gentes-Hawe says courier services are not required to screen material.

“We exercise no control, we give no direction to any entity whatsoever that transports goods into Canada. We just wouldn’t do that,” she says.

Wharton ended up sending the shipment to his Canadian distributor by regular mail; it arrived in Peterborough Tuesday.