Ottawa – New Democrats reacted today to the Human Rights Impact Report of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement tabled by the government in the House of Commons. The yearly report is an obligation under the agreement signed by Canada and Colombia to monitor human rights in the context of increased commercial and trade links between both countries.
“The report does not provide any information on the human rights situation in Colombia or Canada, although it sees fit to provide an overview of the economies of both countries,” said Hélène Laverdière (Laurier–Ste-Marie), Official Opposition Critic for the Americas. “This is simply unacceptable. Canada has failed in its analysis. This underscores why such reports need to be produced by independent experts, as recommended by the Standing Committee on International Trade in 2008.”
Said Official Opposition Critic for Human Rights Wayne Marston (Hamilton East–Stoney Creek), “This government has managed to table a human rights impact assessment that says nothing about human rights, has no assessments and has no record of impacts. It makes no attempt at an overview of core human rights concerns, which are numerous. The disregard, even contempt, displayed by the Conservatives for the institutions of human rights and Parliament is truly breathtaking.”
"While we all want increased trade, Canadians also want human rights and democratic values respected," said Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway), Official Opposition Critic for International Trade. "These concepts must be linked, and this report does little to demonstrate that progress has been made. "
New Democrats argue that the Canadian government’s Americas Strategy prioritizes trade over human rights. The Strategy has led to accusations that the government is overlooking concerns about the human rights record of Canadian extractive industries operating in the Americas. Said Hélène Laverdière, “we have serious concerns about this government’s commitment to human rights in Colombia and the rest of the Americas. This report is yet another example of Canada’s inaction on this file.”