May 23, 1989
The attached document represents the revised procedures of the Department of National Revenue, Customs and Excise, related to the administration of the hate propaganda provisions of Tariff Code 9956 of Schedule VII to the Customs Tariff. The Honourable Otto Jelinek, Minister of National Revenue, directed the Department to review its procedures regarding complaints about material that could possibly constitute hate propaganda.
The Minister abolished the long-standing border procedure whereby headquarters officials would instruct field officers to detain commercial shipments of books until a review was undertaken to determine whether the material contravened Canada's hate propaganda legislation. To replace these procedures, the Minister directed headquarters officials to provide advance rulings to members of the Canadian book industry when complaints about books of interest to the industry are received. These revised procedures will assure that commercial shipments of books to the Canadian book industry will not be delayed by inappropriate administrative procedures. Mr. Jelinek also directed headquarters officials to seek expert advice from the Department of Justice, as necessary, in arriving at the decision as to whether material constitutes hate propaganda.
Further details or clarification may be obtained from the Prohibited Importations Unit, Ottawa, telephone
This directive outlines the procedures and responsibilities of the Prohibited Importations Unit and Customs officers in the field in initiating and conducting reviews of material suspected of being hate propaganda under Tariff Code 9956 (b) of Schedule VII to the Customs Tariff which references subsection 320(8) of the Criminal Code.
The procedures are designed to avoid situations where commercial
shipments of books being imported by the book industry in Canada
might be detained pending a decision as to whether the material
should be classified under the hate propaganda provisions of Tariff
Code 9956. These procedures require close cooperation between
headquarters officials and knowledgeable members of the Canadian
Customs officials in the Prohibited Importations Unit in headquarters who have been specially trained in the interpretation and application of the Criminal Code provisions related to hate propaganda and relevant legal jurisprudence will continue to make all determinations as to whether material is to be classified under the hate propaganda provisions of Tariff Code 9956.
Headquarters officials will continue to provide advance rulings on the admissibility of material under the hate propaganda provisions of Tariff Code 9956 at the request of any importer who wishes a Departmental ruling prior to an importation. This service is designed to encourage and promote voluntary compliance with legislation in this area.
All complaints by members of the public that material may constitute hate propaganda will be directed to the Prohibited Importations Unit at headquarters for action. Headquarters officials will determine whether the material which is the subject of a complaint has been previously reviewed and, if so, take appropriate action to inform the complainant of the results of that review.
Procedures for Dealing with Complaints from the Public
This section outlines the proper procedures to be followed by departmental officials when complaints are received that material, which appears to be a book (as opposed to a leaflet for example), may constitute hat propaganda and no previous review of the material has been undertaken:
If no review of the material has been undertaken, headquarters officials will determine whether the material is likely to be imported commercially by the Canadian book industry.
Given the distribution system of imported French language book in Quebec, L'Association des editeurs canadiens and L'Association des libraires du Quebec have agreed to assist headquarters officials to the extent possible in determining whether French language material is likely to be of commercial interest to the French language book industry in Quebec.
Note: The following procedures and Appendices 1 to 6 will be adapted to suit the circumstances of any review of material in French.
Provincial Attorneys General are responsible for the administration
of the hate propaganda provisions of the Criminal code for material
which is available in Canada. Customs' responsibility for the
administration of the hate propaganda provisions of Tariff Code
9956 relates only to importations. Because resource constraints
do not permit headquarters officials to review material for which
importations are not planned, headquarters officials will contact
the Canadian industry source to determine whether future commercial
shipments are likely to occur.
If the Canadian industry source indicates an intention to import the material for commercial distribution:
If the Canadian industry source indicates that there is no intention to import the material for commercial distribution in Canada in the future, headquarters officials will confirm in writing that a complaint has been received, that an advance ruling will be provided, should the intentions of the Cnadian industry source change, and notify the complainant of the results of the action taken by the Department.
If no Canadian industry source can be identified by following
the procedures in section III, number 1, no advance rulings are
In order for headquarters officials to discharge their responsibility to ensure the proper administration of the hate propaganda provisions of Tariff Code 9956, headquarters officials will request field officers, should an attempted importation be made, to forward a copy of the material in question to headquarters for review, prior to its release from Customs control.
The impact of these revised procedures is mainly on headquarters officials and the way complaints about suspected hate propaganda are handled. Field officers should be aware, however, that the use of their statutory discretion to detain commercial shipments of books being imported by the Canadian book industry, which includes publishers, retailers, or wholesalers, will no longer be necessary because of the actions taken by headquarters officials to deal directly with Canadian industry sources.
All Other Cases of Hate Propaganda
When field officers, in the performance of their duties and
based on their experience with hate propaganda, have reason to
suspect that attempted importations of other material (a leaflet
for example) might constitute hate propaganda, they should continue
to send copies of the material to Ottawa for review prior to release
from Customs' control. In addition, field officers will continue
to prohibit the importation of material on which headquarters
officials have made a determination that the hate propaganda provisions
of Tariff Code 9956 apply. Field officers continue to play an
important role in ensuring that the Department carries out its
statutory responsibilities to administer the hate propaganda provisions
of Tariff Code 9956.
Should any question arise as to whether the provisions of section III, number 6, or section IV should be applied by field officers, the Director or Manager of the Prohibited Importations Unit should be immediately contacted for advice on the appropriate action to be taken.
* The above text has been reproduced as faithfully as humanly possible from the original document. However, this reproduction is not, nor intended to be, the official version of the original.