IN THE HOUSE ~ Private Member's Business ~ Adjournment proceedings - Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

40th Parliament, 3rd Session
Context : Question

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Madam Speaker, I was going to rise in the House to ask the parliamentary secretary why the government is trying to evoke closure in the Standing Committee on International Trade on discussions around the Canada-Colombia trade deal. Dozens of groups, labour unions, human rights organizations, experts in human rights have all requested to come before the trade committee and the government is moving to close things down immediately without hearing from those groups.

We have heard from business lobbyists, who play an important role, and it is good to hear from them, but to say that in any way the government actually understands the human rights situation in Colombia when it is refusing to hear from human rights or labour organizations underscores the hypocrisy of the government.

However, I do not have to ask my question any more because it has become very clear over the last few days why the government is moving to shut down debate. First, there was the explosion of the secret police scandal in Colombia. This is where the Colombian secret police is involved systematically in intimidating and killing Colombian dissidents, who are people who stand up for labour and human rights.

I will cite one as part of the DAS secret police scandal. Journalist Claudia Julieta Duque says it all started when the secret police started making phone calls telling her that her 10-year-old daughter would be cut into pieces. She stated:

They called saying they would leave her fingers all over my house, that they would rape her. Sometimes I received 70 threats in one day.

This journalist was considered a threat because she was investigating the murder of a renowned Colombian journalist. She found out that the threats came from the DAS, the Colombian secret police, and also said:

The President—This is President Uribe—had a speech against those opposing him. Those speeches were simultaneous with the actions of the secret police against us. There is a clear relation between a speech that accuses and a secret police that attacks.

The exposure of these secret police actions, killings and threats against friends and family, absolutely despicable criminal activity, is something that has exploded in the last few days, which would explain the government's haste in trying to remove any discussion on Colombia and refuse to hear from labour and human rights activists who have requested to come before committee.

Madam Speaker, as you well know, Canadians expect that Canadian values will be upheld by Parliament and that when people request to come before committee who have expertise the government obviously does not have, the government should move to allow those people to testify.

The second piece of evidence, of course, is the denunciation of the so-called election practices taking place in Colombia. After a pre-electoral observation mission, it was reported that there is widespread fear in the Colombia population around this election, that there is coercion and intimidation of voters, misuse of identity documents, vote buying and selling, illegal possession of identity documents, public moneys being transferred for illicit uses in the election and control of public transportation to prevent voters from moving freely. In short, there is a situation where the government is deliberately using violence, fear and intimidation to try to get the result it wants.

Not one Canadian would stand for elections that are not free and fair and yet the government is trying to ram this bill through committee and refusing to hear evidence from people who can speak directly to this issue. The question is simple. Why the refusal to hear from Canadians who know about human rights and can inform the government as to why it is doing the wrong thing?

Context : Question
Mr. Peter Julian: Madam Speaker, what is clear is that murder is not something the government should be rubber-stamping. The murder rate of labour activists has increased over the last few years. The disappearances have increased over the last few years. The number of false positives, which is an innocent term which describes a horrifying reality of paramilitaries murdering innocent peasants and then dressing them up as guerillas.

The fact is that the Colombian Association of Jurists talks about rampant sexual torture done by the secret police in Colombia, the paramilitary forces affiliated with the government that this member supports, and of course the Colombian military.

All of this is available if the member or any government member actually had the foresight to read the human reports coming through Human Rights Watch, coming through Amnesty International, coming through Mining Watch, coming through the Canadian Council of International Cooperation. All of those human rights reports explain what is actually happening in Colombia. If the hon. member had read those reports, he would know--