Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement - CCFTA

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement - CCFTA

Postby Oscar » Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:32 pm

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA)

On March 26, 2009, the Harper government introduced legislation (Bill C23) in the House of Commons to implement a Canada-Colombia free trade agreement. Like most free trade agreements, this deal was signed without consultation with the public, labour and civil society groups in Canada, who almost unanimously oppose it. Colombia has one of the worst human rights records in the world. There is no evidence that free trade could or ever has improved human rights and environmental protection, especially in Latin America where the experience has been of de-industrialization and growing inequality under free trade agreements. Despite an aggressive push from Harper to get the FTA through Parliament last year, the implementation legislation failed to pass, thanks to strong opposition in the House from the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, backed by equally strong public pressure. Bill C-23 fell off the order paper when Parliament was prorogued. But the second bill introduced into the current parliamentary session after the March budget was new FTA implementation legislation (Bill C-2), with promises from the Harper government to move it through quickly. It is crucial that we do not let this happen, and that the government conduct an independent human rights impact assessment before even considering this reckless new agreement.

International Pre-Electoral Observation Mission to Colombia questions timing of Canada–Colombia Free Trade Agreement

The International Pre-Electoral Observation Mission to Colombia was led by Global Exchange (, with the participation of professionals, analysts and citizens of more than seven countries including the United States, Canada, Germany, the U.K. and Mexico. Four delegates from Canada were part of the Mission, including Carleen Pickard of the Council of Canadians.

The mission brought together 22 individuals with collective experience of electoral observation in eleven countries. From Feb. 3-15, the group conducted pre-electoral observation in Colombia, prior to the 2010 elections. The Mission divided into four teams to observe conditions in municipalities in the departments of Antioquia, Córdoba, Valle del Cauca and Santander.

All Links are at:

•Read the Executive Summary of the report here
•Read the Canadian overview of the report here
•Read the entire report here
•Tell the Liberals to say no to a free trade agreement with Colombia here



Colombia's Elections: Under the Gun, Laura Carlsen, Center For International Policy, March 23, 2010

The Canada-Colombia Project: An information source on Canada-Colombia relations by the La Chiva Collective

Making a Bad Situation Worse: An analysis of the text of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, by the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers, Canadian Labour Congress and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Top Ten Reasons Why Canada Should Cancel Harper’s “Free Trade” Deal With Colombia, a four-page fact sheet from the Canadian Labour Congress

Trading Away Human Rights: Why the EU-Colombia free trade agreement is a step in the wrong direction, a joint report of the Trade Union Congress, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Justice for Colombia, Unite, and Workers Uniting

The Struggle for Survival and Dignity: Human rights abuses against Indigenous peoples in Colombia, a report by Amnesty International

Key Benchmarks for a Human Rights Impact Assessment for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement – A guideline for future parliamentary action on Colombia commissioned by the CCIC’s Americas Policy Group

What's wrong with Canada-Colombia FTA, Manuel Rozental,
"Manuel Rozental spoke at a recent conference on Colombia held in Vancouver. He has been fighting the free trade agreement for several years and says it's not free, it's not about trade and there is no agreement." More »

Prominent Canadians ask Ignatieff to put human rights before free trade in Colombia
Vancouver / April 30, 2009 - Over 50 prominent individuals and organizations have sent Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff a letter urging him to help stop the ratification of the proposed Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement until a full and independent human rights impact assessment can be carried out. The letter was sent today, the first day of the Liberal Party convention in Vancouver. Read News release. Read the letter (English / Français)

Canadian Labour Congress letter to Michael Ignatieff regarding the ratification of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. (English / Français)

-Colombia Letter to Parliament from 4 Union Leaders »
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ACTION ALERT - Forced closure on CCFTA debate premature

Postby Oscar » Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:38 pm

ACTION ALERT - Forced closure on CCFTA debate premature

----- Original Message -----
From: Carleen Pickard
Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2010 9:21 AM
Subject: [ACTIVlist] ACTION ALERT - Forced closure on CCFTA debate premature, compromised Colombian elections must be considered by Canadian government

Please take action this weekend, forward to friends, allies and family - Members of Parliament need to hear from you before the end of day Monday April 19.

Visit: to sign and send the letter directed at key MPs who can influence the Liberal party's position.

ACTION ALERT: Forced closure on CCFTA debate premature, compromised Colombian elections must be considered by Canadian government

April 17, 2010

The government made a nearly unprecedented move Friday (April 16) and forced a surprise motion to vote late in the afternoon which evoked closure on the second reading of the Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement – Bill C-2. By not putting the motion on the order papers for Friday, the Conservative government demonstrated how desperate it is to move forward with ratifying the Agreement, without responding to human rights concerns in Colombia and the country’s compromised Presidential elections.

On Monday (April 19) Members of Parliament will end debate on the CCFTA and will vote to send C-2 to Committee. Each Liberal members of Parliament will decide if they support the Bill or not. The Liberals did not support the closure motion on Friday – knowing it was an undemocratic precedent being set by the Conservatives - on Monday night, the real test will come.

Liberal MPs will also have to reveal whether or not they support the “Brison deal” – a proposal made in the House of Commons to fast-track ratification of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement by Liberal Trade Critic Scott Brison. This Amendment to the FTA would mean that human rights assessments were only required once the agreement was already in place, and that the Colombian and Canadian governments would be the ones to evaluate their own human rights records!

This is not what anyone understands as a truly independent, pre-ratification human rights impact assessment, which a parliamentary committee recommended in June 2008 with Liberal support. We need to convince the Liberals not to support this deal!


Recent UN and Amnesty International reports show escalating violence against Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, including murder and forcible displacement from communal lands. The National Labour School (ENS) of Colombia has also accounted for the murders of 45 trade unionists in 2009. These accounts, and unacceptably high impunity rates, have been enough to stall and even stop similar free trade agreements in allied countries, including Belgium and the United States.

During recent legislative elections in Colombia, in which President Uribe’s allies were the big winners, polling stations in one-third of the country’s municipalities were at risk of violence, corruption or fraud, according to the ombudsman's office and election observers, who reported vote-buying and pressure on voters. This situation was predicted by an international pre-election observation mission to Colombia, which issued a report earlier this month.

“Canada entering into a free trade agreement with Colombia now not only sends the wrong message to Canadians and the Colombian regime, it also may make Canada and Canadian companies complicit or passive supporters of continued violence in Colombia,” said the final report of the pre-election monitoring group, which is available to read here:


Finally, we know from reports in the Globe and Mail and statements in the House of Commons by Bloc and NDP MPs that there is very little to gain economically in either Colombia or Canada from this free trade agreement. So why are the Liberals rushing it through without assessing its impact first? In fact, the agreement could have more to do with backing the few remaining neoliberal regimes in Latin America against a rising tide of more interventionist governments who are putting development and rights before corporate profits.

With the Presidential election in Colombia slated for May 30, the Conservatives are no doubt keen to deliver this ‘gift’ to the ruling regime. Canadian policy makers should reject this false push for the CCFTA to be ratified and take the steps necessary to fully evaluate the impact this Agreement will have on Colombia and Canada alike.

TAKE ACTION – Demand an independent human rights assessment before any agreement is ratified

Brison told the House of Commons that those Members of Parliament opposing the Canada-Colombia FTA “do not support free trade, and get this foil that it is throwing over this that this is somehow an issue of human rights. This is their latest tactic in an ideological fight against free trade that has nothing to do with human rights.”

But the point of raising human rights concerns is precisely because “free” trade between developed and developing countries has and will continue to impact significantly the rights of people’s in the developing country, almost always in a negative way. It makes more sense to figure out how before we sign the deal than after, when it’s too late.

We need to continue to write the Liberals to tell them that a flip-flop on an independent human rights impact assessment won’t fool Canadians. It just removes any human rights credibility from the Liberal party, and trade critic Scott Brison and Bob Rae in particular.

You’re encouraged to visit: and take action now!

Carleen Pickard
Director of Organizing/Council of Canadians
#700 - 170 Laurier Ave W., Ottawa, ON K1P 5V5
(t)1.800.387.7177 or 613.233.4487 x 223 <>
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LETTER: Laurin: Re: Colombia Trade Deal – Bill C-2

Postby Oscar » Sat Apr 17, 2010 5:41 pm

LETTER: Laurin: Re: Colombia Trade Deal – Bill C-2

From: Wanda Laurin

To: ; ; ; Justin Trudeau ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

Cc: Gerry Ritz Minister of Agriculture ; Adele Rymhs ; Andrew Moulden ; Bernard Bigras B.Q. Rosemont ; Bruce Hyer NDP, Thunder Bay ; Chris Warkentin ; David McGuinty Lib. Ottawa south ; Elizabeth May ; Gilles Duceppe ; Jack Layton ; James Moore ; Jennifer Villebrun ; Ken Dryden Lib. York Centre ; Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs .ca ; Libby Davies ; Micheal Ignatieff ; Nathan Cullen NDP, Skeena Valley, B.C. ; Nikki Ashton ; Peter Julian ; Stephane Dion ; Stephen Harper

Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2010 3:03 PM
Subject: Bill C-2 : Trade Deal with Colombia

April 17, 2010

Members of Parliament of Canada

Re: Colombia Trade Deal – Bill C-2

In Colombian more labour leaders are killed every year than in the rest of the world combined. Trade unionists are terrorized and murdered to put a stop to union organizing. It is a well-known fact that the paramilitaries are in collusion with the Uribe government and the Congress of Colombia to scare Colombian workers from forming unions (Colombia is currently less than 5% unionized). As a result, in Colombia, unions are weak and wages of average persons are extremely low. With the country at about 11% unemployment, the companies that employ people have the luxury of manipulating the average Colombian with regard to their wage and benefits.

Instead of unions, the Colombian government created “cooperatives” which means the workers are associates not employees. As associates, workers are not covered by labour laws, are not allowed to strike, and have few if any worker benefits. Their work hours are unregulated.

The current political state of affairs in Colombia is in a state of extreme corruption. The murders of trade union activists are left unquestioned (many of those murdered were accused, by their slayers, of being guerrillas, and the accusation was not questioned, no proof was called for). A huge majority of those who are guilty of these murders are currently free, as the legal system is controlled by the government which manipulates the courts to impede the system from dealing with the murderers.

The Uribe government corruption allows the paramilitaries to terrorize anyone who speaks out against the government. The drug trade, and criminal activity have been strongly linked to the government in Colombia, more than 60% of Uribe’s Congress are under investigation for collaboration with the paramilitaries. Proof of this comes from The Hague International Criminal Court investigating many charges against Colombian Congressmen and their links to the paramilitaries in the drug-trade. Twenty-seven high ranking military officials have been accused by the U.N. Human Rights of ordering their soldiers to kill civilians, dress them as Fark militia and claim the Uribe government bonuses for Fark guerrilla body counts.

Colombians themselves have said no to the trade deal. They realize that the conditions in their country will further deteriorate for average citizens if the big corporations are allowed to do business in their country. The deal will be a “land grab” for international corporations, including Canadian mining companies. The economy will be high-jacked by global corporations that will do business with the Uribe government. This deal will undermine any move to true democracy in Colombia. Barak Obama stated in his 2008 election debate: “The history of Colombia right now is that labor leaders have been targeted for assassination on a fairly consistent basis and there have not been prosecutions...”

The idea of signing a trade deal between Canada and Colombia at any time in the near future, considering the current human rights abuses suffered by the average person in Colombia, would be a monumental error.

As the Conservative members of Parliament in Canada are in support of Bill C-2, can they explain how this legislation, at this time, can be right or fair for the common people of Colombia? It appears that this legislation is in direct conflict of interest with the needs of the common people in Colombia.

My question to the Conservative party of Canada is then, who advocating for this Bill? Who is suggesting that the human rights abuses in Colombia are acceptable to the Canadian public?

The Parliament of Canada should not sign any trade agreements with Colombia until an independent commission is able to determine that conditions in Colombia have improved for the common worker and that the human rights abuses of the government of Colombia are demonstrably and markedly stopped.


Wanda Laurin,
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