Engler, Yves. CANADA in AFRICA: 300 years of ad and exploitation. 2015. RED publishing/ Fernwood Publishing Canada. ISBN 978-1-55266762-0

Review and author photo by Theresa Wolfwood

“Canadian policy provides a unique window into Western exploitation of Africa and this book can hopefully contribute to overcoming widespread ignorance of African affairs.”

Engler has done it again; written another carefully documented, well-crafted history and analysis, this time about Canada’s involvement in past centuries and today in Africa. And once again he reveals the myth behind our idea that Canada and we Canadians are ‘good guys” in a bad world. With few exceptions we are right up there with other colonial and imperial powers.  Centuries ag owe helped suppress African slave rebellions in the Caribbean while profiting from selling boatloads of cod to keep slaves working.

“Throughout the various stages of the colonial project, Canada provided political, military, economic support.”

Canada helped Britain and Belgium to crush independence movements and in the last century we assisted in the overthrow and death of independence leaders from Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah; in recent years we supported the invasion of Somalia by the USA and our military committed terrible acts of cruelty and torture there.   We provided rulers – governors- for British colonies and did our part in supporting Christian missionaries who worked closely with government officials giving rise to the often quoted saying: When they came we had the land, soon they had the land and we had the bible.

In recent decades Canada has moved into serious exploitation of African’s resources with little regard for human rights, sustainable development or the welfare of communities living near desired riches – mainly minerals. Canada is home to 75% of the world’s mining companies and they are in the vanguard everywhere, including Africa of plunder and pillage. From PotashCorp‘s lucrative deal with the Moroccan government in its phosphate purchases from occupied Western Sahara to ,Barrick Gold’s tax dodges in Tanzania to supporting oil companies profiting from deals with the brutal Sudan government and much more it is all documented.

Canada has refused to support or fund initiatives on climate change which is affecting Africa more severely than anywhere globally – if this is a priority of our new government this book should be on every minister’s reading list.    Anyone committed to changing Canada’s foreign policy to a policy based on justice, universal equality and self-determination can read this book as a starting place for understanding and creating real change.

Engle’s closing words are a clear direction for action, “…it is possible to convince Canadians of the importance of paying attention to what the government is doing in their name in Africana other parts of the world. …We must call on a collective sense of solidarity and understand that acting on it is in our self-interest. We must work towards making this understanding the basis of our foreign policy  in Africa and elsewhere.”

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