Recently there has been growing concern about the return or expansion of slavery globally. Some have suggested that neoliberal globalization has resulted in a decline in workers’ rights and labor protections that leave workers vulnerable to conditions that are less than reflective of a “free” labor market. Still much of this concern remains focused on poorer economies or contexts outside of liberal democratic government structures. Certainly many would be skeptical about any notion that slavery, or conditions akin to slavery would be found in a liberal democratic nation such as Canada, which is still viewed internationally as a progressive upholder of human rights.
Yet, on May 23, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal released its findings that the owners and operators of a tree planting firm in the interior of British Columbia (B.C.) had indeed run a “slave-like” work camp in the province. The ruling stated that the company Khaira Enterprises had racially discriminated against 55 African workers, most originally from Congo (and most of whom have been made refugees), including many women.