BPC Bulletin: Quebec's Health Department Denounces Book for Teens, Part 2
News Reports and Commentary Selected by Franklin Carter of the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee.
In Quebec, several editorials, op-eds and columns have denounced as censorship the provincial government’s request that schools refrain from “promoting” the young-adult novel Le garçon aux pieds à l’envers by renowned author François Blais because, in one chapter, an “evil spirit” is said to have prodded a teenage character to sip a lethal dose of gasoline.
In Le Devoir, columnist Odile Tremblay comments:
In La Presse, Robert Whitley, a professor of psychiatry at McGill University, comments:
In La Presse, Nathalie Collard editorializes:
In Le Devoir, Josiane Cossette, a professor of literature and president of a primary school board, comments:
In Le Soleil, journalist Thomas Laberge reports that, faced with such an outcry, Health Minister Christian Dubé has admitted that the government’s earlier call for shelving the book “went a bit too far”:
Meanwhile, on the TVA Nouvelles news site, journalist Patrick Bellerose reports that Education Minister Bernard Drainville “opposes the idea of having books that deal with suicide banned from classrooms” and argues that “reading about such matters can provide an opportunity to discuss them with students and prevent similar behaviour”:
Both ministers thereby “seem to disavow” the letter that was sent to all schools by the assistant health minister.
The Book and Periodical Council was formed in 1975 as the Book and Periodical Development Council to provide a venue for members to discuss industry issues, address mutual concerns and undertake projects for the benefit of Canadian writing and publishing.