Explaining “Canadian Mockingbird” and Colonization of Mind, Briefly

This non-fiction synopsis comes from my search for a literary agent. And just a warning; if you’re Canadian, attended the country’s public schools, and choose to keep reading you’re likely going to learn new uncomfortable details about how you were educated. But I’m biased, think it’s largely impossible not to be. I’m a Canadian librarian of Irish and African-American descent who started out as a Gen X kid of divorced, boomer and working class parents. I ended up attending ten public schools in five cities and towns before graduation.

What I’ve learned is that from empire’s perspective, Canada is a resource mine. Historically that’s true whether fish, furs and lumber are exported or minerals. The climate is often miserable. “Made in Canada” is a smaller segment of the economy. Sometimes it’s been difficult getting migrants to stay. A satisfied domestic population accepting mediocre returns and limited sun would likely be impossible without conditioning at school. Canadian Mockingbird takes readers on a journey across three distinct eras of public education.1

There’s a squeeze on what the majority should know. For their own good. “Really, trust us.” The ruling class’s children are educated differently, at private school without the same limitations. Part I begins in 19th century, following France’s exit, with the creation of a Canada loyal to the British Crown. This new county was built at school. The mind is taken as much as the land. Britain already had an educational program from its colonies elsewhere. Some of British Canada’s first textbooks arrived from Ireland. Canada West’s [Ontario] annual list of authorized textbooks, Circular 14, debuted in 1887 and was subsequently distributed across Canada to less populous provinces. Loyalist texts were the standard whether students were Indigenous or had arrived from elsewhere. Canada stole kids from their villages for programming. Homogeneity was intended.

There was a late 1930s push for more diversity in curriculum design with greater participation from educators. Freedom of expression was further advanced in both the United Kingdom and America. Ontario studied the matter but wartime Conservatives, including militarist premiers like George Drew,  Leslie Frost and John Robarts grasped at control.

Canada signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and had helped write it. The country agreed explicitly to freedom of thought and conscience, to allow free expression via all sorts of media. Three years later, province told publishers in 1951 that a new competitive era to begin in 1960. Part II’s four chapters form the core story and follow 1960, when government duplicity becomes fraud.

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

The victims were cohorts of Baby Boomer and Generation X students. Ontario’s education ministry created an evaluation process with six to seven experts reviewing each submission. A flood of new publishers and textbooks followed resulting in majority recommended but unwanted texts. To maintain absolute curriculum control, department management resorted to misrepresenting panel recommendations in hundreds of rejection letters and distributing a corrupted list of textbooks across Canada every year.

The tragedy is that this could have been an era for an emergent and authentic new Canadian identity, incorporating its many different cultures. Instead there was official blandness, cultures running away in all directions, and a dumbing down of civic society. Freedom of information stalled elsewhere. Despite the demands for a more open society, it wasn’t until 1988 and the Conservatives’ loss of power that Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation became effective. Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). According to the privacy analyst who processed my application, no one had investigated the archival fonds before my project investigation started in 2007.

Evaluations couldn’t be independently reviewed even if publishers were suspicious. There was also care not to complain too loudly. Ontario, with its municipal boards, is Canada’s largest book buyer. Publishers and writers were economic victims.  And the damage was substantial. Textbooks sold in the hundreds of thousands.

Unanimously recommended texts—meaning lower level bureaucrats had agreed with external panelists—were first censored and then portrayed as having been majority rejected.2 Even Canada’s most renown authors. Even Margaret Atwood. Canadian Mockingbird features nine subject tables of covertly censored textbooks, including

Fraudulent letters continued at least into the 1980s and David Peterson’s succeeding Liberal administration. I took gymnastics with David Peterson’s son in London, Ontario while his dad was dumbing me down; sort of had a crush on Shelley.

Ontario’s textbook evaluation began to be privatized in 1994. Part III details the transition. Reviews became exorbitantly expensive. Publishers consolidated, competition shrank dramatically and submissions dried up. In becoming a monopolist’s market much like other Canadian economic verticals, textbook publishing again resembled its old pre-competitive self. The province’s censorship is contrasted with Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s covert manipulation of journalists and news publishers. More comparison comes from informative examples of corporate and government influence on Canadian print and broadcast.

The majority of Canadian Mockingbird is written without much specialist jargon. Yet it was primarily academia who responded to my first book on evaluation, NO SCHOOL FOR SUCKERS. The new afterword therefore gets technical in discussing how legal case history at the Supreme Court and Canada’s international agreements conflict with Ontario’s management of public education. European and North American use of public education as a control apparatus is explained in terms of my paradigm, “textbook-vectored social engineering.” In hopes of a publishing renaissance, legislative reform is suggested, one creating genuine public visibility and involvement in textbook selection.

Interested agents or publishers are encouraged to reach out.



  1. I’m still considering a subtitle. The latest draft is Exposing Your Censored Textbooks & the Educational Fraud Dumbing Down Public Education.
  2. An appendix following the book’s seven chapters transcribes several classified government letters depicting both censorship and government’s derision for its own evaluation system. Interested parties can verify government actions by applying to see Archives of Ontario fonds 2-243-3 and 2-243-4.