Under Canadian immigration laws, entry to the country is banned to anyone who is a member of an organisation which used violence for political ends, or engaged in criminal activities. During “the armed struggle”, the ANC was classified as such an organisation, and astonishingly, the classification remains today – despite full consular and diplomatic relationships existing between the countries where Mohau Pheko is SA’s high commissioner to Canada based in Ottawa. A former leader of the ANC Youth League, Billy Modise, was her predecessor since 1994 saw full diplomatic relations restored.
Despite these contradictions, if ANC members wish to visit Canada, they have to apply for a special ministerial permit to give them permission to do so. These permits reportedly cost twice as much as a normal visa.
Following a visit to South Africa, Liberal MP Irwin Cotler appealed to the government to lift the ban, saying it was “unacceptable for Canada to treat the heroes of the anti-apartheid movement – a historical struggle for a democratic, egalitarian and non-racial South Africa – as presumed terrorists”. The Canadian high commission in Pretoria responded by releasing a statement saying that the immigration department was “already reviewing this issue and will take steps to address it”.
In October the Canada Border Services Agency introduced new measures to allow for bans to be set aside if the “banned organisation” was found to have undergone a “fundamental” change. Cotler says this doesn’t go far enough, and the ban should be lifted via legislation. The Globe and Mail reports that ANC veterans Ahmed Kathrada and wife Barbara Hogan are two examples of former anti-apartheid activists who recently cancelled trips to Canada as a result of the entry ban. DM
Photo: Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper. REUTERS/Chris Wattie.
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The Hindenburg had a smoking room.