Canada’s African travel ban deemed racist
After weeks of criticism for acting unfairly, Canada has lifted its travel ban against the 10 African countries where the Omicron variant began circulating after it was first identified and reported by scientists in South Africa.
CBC Opinion carried an op-ed by our friend Bianca Mugyenyi where she points out that if you think Canada acted badly this time, just take a look back at the history of Canada’s action in Africa.
NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson labelled Canada’s recent COVID-19 measures directed at southern Africa “racist”. Unfortunately, Canada’s policy toward Africa has long been that way, says Mugyenyi.
A quick look at the history of Canadian policies on the continent reveals at best indifference and at worst contempt toward Africans.
- In 2011, for instance, a Canadian general led the NATO bombing of Libya, despite vigorous opposition from the African Union. The AU argued the war would destabilize that country and the region, which is precisely what occurred.
- During the 1990s, Ottawa promoted neoliberal structural adjustment programs amidst significant local resistance. A major benefit to foreign mining and resource companies, the IMF-imposed reforms devastated many countries’ social safety nets and economies.
- More recently, Canada has failed to support a World Trade Organization patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines. At the same time as Canadian officials have worked against a year-old South African and Indian proposal designed to speed up vaccinations in poorer countries, they have been accused of hoarding COVID vaccines, purchasing enough doses to inoculate every Canadian five times. These measures have contributed to a stark inequity in which six per cent of Africans are fully vaccinated, which increases the ability of the virus to spread and mutate.
The rise of Omicron has demonstrated what many have warned: we’re not safe until everyone is safe. Given the perpetual resurgence of racism and colonialism in international affairs, including Canada, the day we emerge from COVID may be a long way off.
- Read more “Canada’s COVID policies in Africa reflect a long, troubling history,” December 17, 2021
(Cover: Polokwane, Limpopo, South Africa – 04212021: The Limpopo provincial government launched a covid-19 vaccine registration drive in Tooseng village for people over 60 years old. Via Shutterstock)