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Canada announces sanctions against South Africa

For almost 50 years, South Africa was ruled by apartheid — a brutal system of racial separation that kept the nation's black majority in poverty while a white minority held the wealth and power. As unrest grew, South Africa seemed destined for a bloodbath. Canada — like many nations — was slow to react but, by the 1980s, assumed a leading role in forcing economic sanctions against South Africa. Canadian business people, activists and clergy also played parts in bringing about all-race elections in 1994, and a surprisingly peaceful end to apartheid.

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Trade between Canada and South Africa is no longer welcome, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Don Jamieson announces today. After years of waffling on the sanctions issue, the announcement is a surprise to many Canadians. For South African foreign minister Pik Botha, it is ridiculous and offensive. He tells As It Happens host Barbara Frum Canada should mind its own business, and take a look at the way it treats its own indigenous people before passing judgement.
• In September 1977 Don Jamieson described Canada's longstanding policy of separating politics and trade "a cop-out." The measures he announced in December included ending government support for commercial activities in South Africa, establishing a voluntary "code of ethics" for Canadian companies active in South Africa, and requiring visas for South African visitors.


• Some critics of Canada's role in the fight against apartheid point out similarities between South Africa's "homelands," or Bantustans, and Canada's native reserves.
• In 1966, Justice Thomas Berger said this about British Columbia's treatment of its native peoples: "They began by taking the Indians' land without any surrender and without their consent," Berger wrote. "Then they herded the Indian people onto Indian reserves. This was nothing more nor less than apartheid, and that is what it still is today."

• Assembly of First Nations leader George Erasmus fostered ties between his organization and the African National Congress.
Barbara Frum went to South Africa in 1990 and  interviewed Nelson Mandela just after he was released from prison.
• Frum interviewed Mandela again in 1990 when he visited Canada.

• Some of the earliest and most effective sanctions against South Africa came from the world of sports. As early as the 1950s, nations and sporting federations around the world began banning South African teams. In 1968, the United Nations called for a suspension of all sporting exchanges with apartheid South Africa sports organizations. In 1985 the General Assembly ratified the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports. These moves provided remarkable publicity for the struggle against apartheid.

• In 1977 Canada also joined the Commonwealth boycott of aid to athletes or teams that competed in South Africa, and any event in Canada that allowed South African competitors.
• Bruce Kidd, Canada's best-known middle-distance runner of the 1960s, became one of the sporting world's strongest advocates for isolating South Africa in sports. In the 1980s Kidd became a director of the International Campaign Against Apartheid Sport.
Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Dec. 20, 1977
Guest(s): Pik Botha
Host: Barbara Frum
Duration: 8:10

Last updated: July 9, 2013

Page consulted on April 23, 2014

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