Diplomatic Hypocrisy

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Abstract

At the 1961 Commonwealth Conference, Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker set in motion a clause that prevented South Africa from regaining admittance to the British Commonwealth rather than demanding the South African government remove its racist policies and laws. There had long been calls for an international boycott and sanctions against South Africa because of apartheid, but the Canadian government had done little to verify its stance in this regard. In 1976, Toronto played host to the Olympiad for the Physically Disabled; the invitation and arrival of a unified South African team forced the federal government to take a stand and withdrew all financial and moral support of the games. However, this political statement did nothing end apartheid or drive international human rights policies. Furthermore, it also showed that the Canadian government was unable to reflect on its own history of racial inequality with regards to Indigenous peoples.