2 min

We demand

Dear Hedy Fry and Bill Graham:

Welcome back as the MPs for, respectively, the gay villages in Vancouver and Toronto. You’ve both got a reputation as progressive Liberals with a strong affinity for the gay community.

And so I appeal to you as a gay man who is despondent over the recent Supreme Court Of Canada decision on the matter of Canada Customs targeting materials that I want to read and view.

It was a powerful moment when I read this: “The Customs treatment was high-handed and dismissive of [Little Sister’s] right to receive lawful expressive material which they had every right to import….

“Freedom of expression does not stop at the border.”

But then, in a bizarre twist, the majority refused to reign in Canada Customs.

That’s where you come in. And other progressive Liberals, like Toronto’s Caroline Bennett and Allan Rock. And the minister responsible for Canada Customs, Martin Cauchon.

I need your help. I don’t trust Canada Customs. Already, they’ve announced that it’s “business as usual.”

And they seized another shipment to Little Sister’s on Dec 11.

I am writing you, dear MPs, because I want you to find a way to get your government to amend Customs legislation.

Your government has saved face and has a legal right to leave the letter of the law as it is and put tremendous resources into better staff training, updating reference materials used by front-line Customs officers and firing a couple of highly placed homophobes. But a thorough read of the situation makes it clear that this is not the right thing to do; the right thing to do is to scrap or massively overhaul the existing legislation.

No doubt, dear MPs, your Justice Department has already prepared new legislation just in case you lost the case. Let’s get it done!

In conclusion, dear MPs, I’d like to quote from the court decision. The justices, all of them, were very taken by the comments of a former federal minister responsible for Customs.

George Nowlan once said before the House Of Commons: “I really think that we are much better qualified to deal with increasing the seasonal tariff on cabbages and cucumbers than to pass moral judgment on literature coming into the country.”

That was in 1958. Before I was born.

The same attitudes today are preventing me from reading ideas that are important to my life. The same attitudes today are preventing me from accessing photographs and illustrations that represent and affirm my sexuality.

Dear MPs, the time is long overdue to make our borders free of gay and lesbian prejudice.