Aller au contenu principal

Conservatives fail to take human rights seriously in Canada-Colombia deal

For the second year in a row, the Conservative government has failed tolive up to its moral obligation to analyze the impact of the
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCOFTA) on human rights.

The reporting obligation, embedded as a side agreement in the FTA, was hailed by the Liberals as a "new gold standard" for human rights reporting in free trade agreements and touted by the Conservative  government as a meaningful way to address human rights accountability in trade.

It should come as no surprise that the Liberals praised the reporting regime since it was Scott Brison's idea. The Conservatives only had a minority at the time and it was Liberal support, with Brison leading the charge, that helped to push the trade agreement with Colombia through.

But the "new gold standard" doesn't appear to be living up to its billing.

Last year's report, referred to by many as a "non-report," promised that a real study would come in 2013...

Released mid-June, this year's report falls way short of the promised gold standard and confirms suspicions that the reporting obligation was mere window dressing. It speaks almost exclusively of macroeconomics and trade flows, and -- most alarmingly -- limits its scope to actions taken by the Canadian government under the FTA's Implementation Act. Clearly absent from the report is any data or analysis around changes in the human rights situation or the impacts of Canadian investment on human
rights in Colombia, rendering the report virtually irrelevant.

In a particularly notable outburst, Brison declared that a free trade agreement with Canada was just what the people of Colombia needed to protect them from the "ideological attacks" of the dreaded Hugo Chavez.

So how's that working out for them? Back to our original link:

According to a recent article published in Embassy magazine, "more than one third of Colombia's Indigenous peoples are threatened with extermination, according to the country's highest court -- a crisis fueled by the violent imposition of megaprojects on indigenous territories. And in 2012, over 280 Colombian trade unionists received death threats and 20 were killed -- making it one of the world's most dangerous places for unionists."

The "new gold standard" is a farce.

I'm reminded, as well, of Martha Hall Findlay's subsequent effort to ensure that Brison and his colleagues got the recognition they deserved.

To repeat an earlier comment of my own: Way to go, Libs. Attaboy, Scott.
Keep up the good work.