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Canada panicked. But unlike other countries, we overreacted. Our mantra -- better be safe than sorry -- actually made us less safe and continues to make us sorry. To explain, lawyers like myself have argued from the beginning that Canada's visa restrictions were illegal.
It's been less than a year since the dreaded Ebola virus appeared on North American soil. In a matter of a few weeks, the virus went from being someone else's problem to a homeland threat. In the process, media headlines captured the attention of millions and struck fear into most of them. But Fearbola, as it was coined, was completely unnecessary. Last week, a report came out detailing exactly how the public responded to the Ebola crisis in the United States.
I am in Sierra Leone to visit some of the Ebola treatment centres run by Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in response to the West African epidemic that began just over one year ago. That the Prince of Wales centre in Freetown, and other Ebola centres are closing is a sign case numbers have plummeted from the historic highs seen in the outbreak.
Even when Ebola is finally contained, the reality is thousands of people will continue to face hunger and malnutrition leading to death for months, if not years. While they won't succumb to the disease itself, they'll still experience hunger because of the effects of an Ebola epidemic.
As I scan the latest headlines about Ebola, I think not only of the rising death numbers, but also of the children, families, and local Plan staff that I have encountered during my visits to West Africa. We can all be humanitarian actors when it comes to fighting Ebola.
The declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern over Ebola is one of the world's most important actions although people may choose to see it differently; the situation requiring its call may lead to fear and panic. But, the only reaction should be resilience.
When it comes to the introduction of foreign deadly diseases, Canada need not worry. Due to the experience of one unexpected surprise, the SARS outbreak of 2003, and the resultant Commission that followed, Canada went from being unprepared to ready for anything.