I have had the experience of knowing one Customs officer because he was was in a class of mine at UBC, English 100, the freshman English class.Update Dec 3: I see from the G&M private obituary today (also here) that there will be a Jane Rule Endowment for the Study of Human Relationships at UBC, towards which the family is collecting donations.
I had been assigned a special class, a particularly small class of students, all of whom had failed English 100 once and some of them had failed it twice, and as many of you may know, if you fail English 100 three times, you're out of the university. So these were fairly desperate students....The young man in question had failed it twice, and if he was going to fail again, then he was out of the university. He did marginal work and I think if he had worked very hard he might have gotten a gentleman's C an gotten through, but he only did half of his assignments. In the spring, he came to me and said, "I'm really being frivolous. It's time for me to go out in the real world and earn a living and stop being a silly child." I thought that was a very sensible decision for him to come to.
Shortly after that, he came to me, and asked me if I would give him a letter of recommendation to be a Customs official for Canada Customs. I thought at that time that he was a personable young man, he's good with people and probably he would make a good Customs officer, so I was perfectly willing to give him a letter of recommendation. I was not aware at that time that such a person would be given the responsibility of censoring books coming in to Canada.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Jane Rule, the great Canadian author and activist against censorship, passed away last night. I greatly admire Jane Rule and so would like to share a story she told during in her testimony at the Little Sisters trial in 1994 regarding Canada Customs' censorship of books coming in at the border. Some of Jane Rule's own books had been detained, though not prohibited, by Customs. In her testimony she offered her views, as an author and academic, on the merits of many of the books that had been thereto detained. She also told the following story: