May 20th, 2014

Harper government continues to ignore human rights concerns in Colombia

Once again the Conservatives continue to ignore human rights concerns in the government’s third annual Human Rights Impact Report for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

The report mimics the template from last year, leaving out crucial areas of concern such as the impact of Canadian investment in conflict zones in Colombia. Earlier this year, Canadian civil society and labour groups decried the flawed consultation process as meaningless.

“In bad faith, the Conservatives prevented civil society and labour groups from contributing in a meaningful and substantive way to the consultation,” said NDP Human Rights critic Wayne Marston (Hamilton East–Stoney Creek). “The hollow consultation process for this human rights report highlights why the Liberal-Conservative inspired reporting mechanism for this trade agreement is so flawed.”

“Such reports must be produced by independent experts, as recommended by the Standing Committee on International Trade in 2008,” said NDP International Trade critic Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway). “If, as the report claims, there are no human rights issues in Colombia related to Canadian trade and investment, why, then, did the Conservatives make it near impossible for human rights groups to tell a different story? What do the Conservatives have to hide?”

The NDP is in favour of increased trade with emerging markets and, unlike the Conservatives, New Democrats also understand the importance of protecting human rights and promoting democratic values.