Or, why Canada is responsible for a surprising amount of what’s wrong with the world today
Most people, if they think about Canada at all, think of hockey, poutine, snow, and maybe lumberjacks…
Chances are, you don’t think of Canada’s impact on world politics and culture. You probably think Canada has no impact on the world. I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. Canada has had an impact on the world. And that impact is not exactly all good.
This will be the first part in a series about how a shocking number of the problems going on in the world today can be traced back to Canada. So let’s get right to it.
Canada is responsible for the fall of Rhodesia, and by extension, the end of successful Africa.
I’ll give you a moment to listen to his version of events
If you don’t know about Rhodesia, you may think that “successful Africa” is an oxymoron. It’s not. Rhodesia was a British colony, then briefly an independent nation, in the land that is now occupied by Zimbabwe. No, Rhodesia did not “become” Zimbabwe, any more than the serial killer that’s sitting in your mom’s place at the dinner table “has become” your mom. They both just happen to be in the same place as the previous thing.
Come give mommy a kiss
Rhodesia was by all important factors a success. It had a high GDP, high median income, high standard of living. It was known as “The Breadbasket of Africa.” The people in the colony, both black and white, had relatively high levels of freedom.
The “problem” with Rhodesia was that it was ruled by white Africans. The white minority ran the country, and while the black majority did have some minor influence on policy, it really was nothing compared to power the whites had. Essentially, Rhodesia took away black political freedom, in exchange for black personal freedom. Whether this was “racist” or not does not matter. It worked.
This lasted until Rhodesia attempted to gain independence from Britain, as Ghana, Malawi, and Zambia had shortly before. The Queen was against giving Rhodesia independence, but the Prime Minister of Britain at the time, Harold Wilson, was not fundamentally opposed to granting Rhodesia independence. If things had progressed the way they were going, Wilson could have granted Rhodesia independence while stating that it could not join the Commonwealth until it had stopped being an apartheid state. That would have allowed Rhodesia to develop at its own pace, while retaining an incentive for it to allow black Africans to eventually vote. Rhodesia could have used the next few decades to develop a black African middle class (The linked video is about South Africa, but the arguments are essentially identical).
This is where Canada comes in.
Nice continent. It’d be a shame if something… happened… to it.
The Prime Minister of Canada at the time, Lester B. Pearson, decided that Apartheid Was Unacceptable. So he got up on his high-horse, and drafted a UN resolution committing Wilson to what was referred to as No Independence Before Majority Rule. This resolution would make it so that Rhodesia would not gain legal independence from Britain until it allowed the majority (black) population to vote. If Rhodesia were to declare independence unilaterally, international sanctions and ostracization would be imposed on it. Wilson, already facing pressure from the Queen and several other countries, agreed to sign the Canadian resolution. Rhodesia declared unilateral independence shortly thereafter, which was met with heavy international sanctions.
Now, you would think that, given the fact that Rhodesia was completely landlocked, and less than a dozen countries willing to trade with it at the time, Rhodesia would quickly collapse economically. In fact, the opposite happened. They experienced an economic boom that lasted until all of the neighbouring African countries became hostile to them. The Soviet-backed Zambia supported communist rebels in Rhodesia, and conflicts between those rebels and the government became the Rhodesian Bush War. Rhodesia eventually succumbed to international pressure abroad and guerrilla warfare within its borders, and in 1980 Rhodesia was replace by Zimbabwe, led by Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe is awful. I won’t go into all of the things that are awful about Zimbabwe, it’s just too depressing. Read the Wikipedia page if you don’t believe me.
If you don’t have time to scour through the Wiki page, let me give you one example of the utter mismanagement of Zimbabwe under Mugabe:
Clearly much better than “The Breadbasket of Africa”
Now, you might be thinking that the two events are unrelated. Maybe Zimbabwe just happened to have a really bad year immediately after Mugabe kicked out the last of the white farmers.
Nope. Those white farmers moved to Zambia immediately to the north of Zimbabwe, and, well…
So, that’s essentially it. Because the Canadian Prime Minister drafted a resolution and pressured the British Prime Minister to not recognize Rhodesian independence, Rhodesia eventually fell. Because Rhodesia was no longer there as a trading partner and a buffer, South Africa eventually fell. And South Africa falling was the end of a modernized, successful Africa. Had none of this happened, it is possible (not incredibly likely, but possible) that Rhodesia and South Africa could have developed black middle classes, successfully transitioned into post-apartheid states, and become the models that a successful Africa could be built on.
Other African countries might have realized that maybe, MAYBE, the decisions these countries were making were not magically working because the leaders were racist, but because the leaders were building on literally millennia of civilization that Sub-Saharan Africa simply did not go through. Maybe some of those other countries could have asked the leaders in Rhodesia and South Africa for advice.
Maybe, after a couple of decades of this, the life expectancy in Africa could rise from 60. (For reference, the next lowest life expectancy for a continent is Asia with 72. Yes, a 12 year difference. And Africa as a whole is boosted by having semi-developed countries in the North. Sub-Saharan Africa is much, much worse).
Maybe then the world wouldn’t have to spend 46 billion dollars per year in aid to Africa.
But we’ll never know.
Because of Canada.
I’ll end this the same way as I plan to end each of the Blame Canada For… posts.