The Politics of Travel Advisories

Abstract

Are Canadian travel advisories driven by a benign concern for the safety of Canadians, or are they driven by political motivations? To what extent are travel advisories administered by Canada linked to or guided by Canadian foreign policy? This paper comparatively assesses Canada’s willingness to impose travel advisories on states with which it has strong political relationships and those with which it has poor or weak political relationships. It surveys all Canadian advisories that deem there to be a “threat of terrorism,” representing a relatively constant risk variable in each state as measured by the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) (Institute for Economics & Peace [IEP] 2018). This study finds that Canada’s travel advisories fall into three categories: commensurate, incommensurate-erroneous, and incommensurate-politically motivated. Both types of incommensurate advisories are illustrated with the examples of Mauritania and the United States. Ultimately, Canada’s traveller information program lacks rigorous guidelines and creates opportunities for error or foreign policy influence. This results in inconsistent travel advisories that run the risk of misinforming Canadian travellers, deterring their travel or putting them at risk unwittingly.

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