IN THE HOUSE ~ Debate ~ Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act - Bill C-2

40th Parliament, 3rd Session
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
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Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I thoroughly enjoyed the speech by the member for Outremont. He certainly understands trade issues and is one of the foremost members in the House on trade issues.

I want him to comment on the incredible condemnation of this Liberal backroom deal that has happened in the last few hours right across the country. The Liberals tried to spin this self-assessment of the Colombian government.

The Council of Canadians is calling this amendment a Liberal sell-out on human rights. The Canadian Union of Public Employees is saying that it is unconscionable that the Liberals plan to whitewash this deal. There are various organizations from across the country, such as the Canadian Labour Congress, saying the bad bill just gets worse.

The British Columbia Teachers' Federation says it is incredible that Liberal MPs have proposed an amendment that would have the same government of Colombia make a report on whether there are human rights violations. The Canadian Auto Workers are calling for an immediate halt, as well as the United Church and the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Nobody agrees with this appalling Liberal sell-out of human rights. As Robert Fowler said last weekend, the Liberals are in the process of losing their souls. Could the member for Outremont comment on that?

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Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I must admit, I feel sorry for the minister; because the Prime Minister's speaking notes are absolute rubbish.

The minister should know full well, if she read any American newspaper, that the U.S. Congress has refused to ratify any agreement with Colombia, that the European Union is refusing to participate and move forward, and that Norway in EFTA has pulled out of any agreement with Colombia as well. The United Kingdom has pulled out of its troop agreement with Colombia because of the massacres and the massive human rights violations taking place by the military arm of the Colombian regime.

Every single human rights organization and labour organization disagrees with the minister and disagrees with the government, and the latest of so many reports indicates that there are consistent and clear patterns in clear areas where companies risk benefiting from human rights violations and/or benefiting those responsible for human rights violation.

The government could prove its case by having an independent human rights assessment. Why has it not done that? Why has it not gone to human rights organizations and actually tested its theory on the practitioners of human rights?

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Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, we are not seeing either Conservatives or Liberals standing up to defend their position. It is very simple why they are not. It is because their position is fundamentally indefensible. I wanted the member for Sudbury who spoke very eloquently on this issue to comment on the flood of national organizations that have condemned this Liberal sellout on human rights.

Every group from the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the United Church, Canadian Auto Workers, British Columbia Teachers' Federation, Canadian Labour Congress, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Council of Canadians and it goes on and on. All of those groups see this as a massive sellout that the Colombian government, a government whose president grew in his political career through his connections with the Medellin Cartel and has been continually connected with paramilitary groups, murderous thugs who have killed dozens of human rights advocates and labour activists in Colombia, as well as the brutal Colombian military that regularly kills innocent Afro-Colombians and aboriginal Colombians.

Given all of that I would like to ask the member why he thinks the Liberals and Conservatives are concocting this sellout of fundamental Canadian values, of Canadians' fundamental concerns for human rights?

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M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Monsieur le Président, j'ai beaucoup aimé le discours de la députée de Laval. Elle comprend très bien la situation qui prévaut en Colombie.

J'aimerais avoir ses commentaires à propos de toutes les organisations nationales qui, depuis quelques jours, condamnent le Parti libéral pour son volte-face quant aux questions reliées aux droits humains en Colombie.

Sous l'égide de l'ancien chef libéral, le Parti libéral a dit être préoccupé par la question des droits humains en Colombie et a dit ne pas vouloir procéder avec cette entente tant et aussi longtemps qu'une évaluation indépendant et impartiale ne sera pas faite au sujet de la situation des droits humains en Colombie et tant qu'il ne connaîtra pas les impacts de cette entente, qui provoque plusieurs préoccupations chez les gens qui s'occupent de droits humains.

Beaucoup d'organisations nationales se sont soulevées contre le Parti libéral pour cette volte-face. Leur nouveau chef semble peu préoccupé par les questions reliées aux droits humains.

J'aimerais que la députée de Laval émette ses commentaires à ce sujet.

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Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Madam Speaker, the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan has done a terrific service to the House of Commons by speaking about the impact on aboriginal peoples.

The Assembly of First Nations has raised major concerns about this agreement, ignored by both the Liberal and Conservative Parties. Concerns have been raised by other human rights organizations. I would like to just cite one, MiningWatch Canada, and CENSAT Aqua Viva, which said that in the course of this study, testimony gathered suggests consistent and clear patterns in key areas where companies risk benefiting from human rights violations and/or benefiting those responsible for human rights violations. Under these circumstances, increased investment in the extractive sector is at risk of entrenching and even expanding the already astonishing toll on the human rights of Colombians.

Every Conservative and Liberal member is aware of this. They know about the impact on aboriginal peoples, because it is primarily aboriginal peoples in Colombia who are impacted by this violent force displacement from land. Why are the Conservatives and Liberals ignoring aboriginal people?

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Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Madam Speaker, the member for Nickel Belt spoke extremely well. He is part of the strongest representation Northern Ontario has ever had in the House of Commons. I am thinking of the member for Nickel Belt, the member for Sudbury, the member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North who spoke just a few minutes ago and the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River. They join long time parliamentarians, the member for Sault Ste. Marie and the member for Timmins—James Bay as the by far strongest representation we have ever had from northern Ontario in the House.

Northern Ontario MPs are speaking out because they have seen some of the abuses that are taking place, as the member for Nickel Belt mentioned. In the Sudbury region are the kinds of abuses magnified 100 times that could well arrive with this free trade blank cheque that would be given to multinational companies to work in Colombia.

Report, after report, after report of every single human rights organization that is independent and impartial has said that there are strong concerns about the kind of corporate rights that this agreement gives to have Canadian companies perhaps be complicit in human rights violations that are taking place now in Colombia. There are three million forcibly displaced, their land stolen by paramilitaries connected with the government.

I would like to ask the member for Nickel Belt this. Why are Conservatives trying to push this complicity with a government that has its hands stained with blood?

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M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Madame la Présidente, j'apprécie beaucoup le discours de mon collègue du Bloc québécois. Je suis très heureux que le Bloc, comme le NPD, défende les valeurs essentielles ici au Canada, les valeurs qui sont partagées par la nation québécoise, les Britanno-colombiens, les Ontariens. Tous les Canadiens et Canadiennes à travers le Canada partagent ces valeurs fondamentales sur les droits humains.

Cependant, il y a une contradiction. Les conservateurs et les libéraux ne veulent rien avoir à faire avec les droits humains. Ils veulent simplement les rejeter. Ils veulent donner un chèque en blanc à ce régime qui a les mains tachées du sang des syndicalistes en Colombie. Il y a plus de déplacements forcés de façon violente, surtout chez les autochtones et les colombiens d'origine africaine, surtout en Colombie. Pourtant, ce prix de mérite a été offert par les libéraux et les conservateurs au régime colombien.

J'aimerais demander à mon collègue comment il se fait que ces deux partis politiques ne comprennent pas l'importance des droits humains et de quelle façon les députés de toutes les formations politiques devraient défendre les droits humains en cette Chambre.

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M. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NPD): Madame la Présidente, j'ai beaucoup apprécié l'intervention du député de Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord qui a une longue expérience en cette Chambre. Il a été capable de faire valoir son point de vue sur cette entente avec un régime qui a les mains tachées de sang.

Je voulais savoir de la part du député si, d'après son expérience en Chambre, il a vu que les conservateurs et libéraux sont véritablement préoccupés par les droits humains ou s'il trouve que c'est plus une question pour eux de vouloir en parler, mais de ne pas vouloir vraiment mettre en place des ententes et des éléments qui obligent les autres États à observer les droits humains.

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Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy hearing the member for Acadie—Bathurst. He is phenomenal in both official languages.

With a president who rose to power supported by the cocaine cartels, who is involved in a government crime spree, who is involved with the Medellin cocaine cartel and linked to paramilitary thugs who brutalize women and children, labour activists, and who runs a military that systematically massacres aboriginal people and Afro-Colombians in rural Colombia, why are the Conservatives so soft on crime once that crime goes beyond Canadian borders? They talk a game in Canada, but once there is a right-winger in power anywhere, that right-winger can commit whatever crimes with impunity.

Why does the member think the Conservatives are so willing to forgive regimes that have their hands soaked with blood, once they are outside the boundaries of Canada?