Canada-Colombia Free Trade Area

Peter JulianLast week, the Harper Government signed the Canada Colombia Trade Deal. Once again, Prime Minister Harper has chosen to ignore compelling evidence, reports and recommendations presented by the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade, civil society, the labour movement, and the grassroots in Canada and in Colombia. These reports called for an independent, impartial and comprehensive human rights impact assessment to be developed and carried out before before Canada considers signing, ratifying and implementing a free trade agreement with Colombia.

In 2008, alone, 41 activists have been killed by paramilitary forces who have documented links with the Uribe government. The ongoing death toll, massacre of those working for social and economic justice is the price Harper is willing to pay for caving in to greedy transnational corporations that are eager to go into rural Colombia, strip natural assets from oil and mineral resources no matter the human cost.

The New Democratic Party has rejected the Canada-Colombia free trade deal until an independent human rights impact assessment is carried out and the resulting concerns addressed. The agreement must be renegotiated along the principles of a fair trade model, that contains enforceable legislated provisions on corporate social responsibility and accountability that implement universal human rights and environmental standards.

The NDP's International Trade Critic Peter Julian plans to keep pushing for a fair trade agreement that would guarantee environmental sustainability, a fair price, a living wage, and safe, healthy, fair working conditions for workers, including the rights to free association and unionization. The NDP caucus is standing four-square against this repudiation of Canadian values, against Harper heartlessly providing a reward for the ongoing human rights violations of the Uribe government.

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