IN THE HOUSE ~ Questions and Comments ~ C-2 Canada-Colombia free trade deal

40th Parliament, 3rd Session
Context : Questions and Comments

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no doubt this is a day of shame and infamy for this Parliament of Canada.

At this time, given the human rights violations in Colombia, there is no doubt that after simply having two hours of debate at report stage that the government brings in the bulldozer of closure is shocking. It is a day of infamy for all those Canadians, those thousands of Canadians who have been writing in to say that the government is wrong, and the Liberals are wrong for propping up a government that has such a shameful human rights record.

Now we know, but I am going to ask this question: Why are they bringing in closure now? We know that just the other day we had the release of report from the government that confirms that the number of trade unionists killed in Colombia is rising, and that the targeted killings of African-Colombians, Aboriginal people in Colombia, and lesbian and gay community leaders is increasing in Colombia.

We have seen the involvement of President Uribe's brother in the brutal killings by paramilitaries. We have seen the Colombian army attacking striking British Petroleum workers in Colombia. We have seen the paramilitaries attacking unionists in Segovia.

We have seen 30 trade unionists lose their lives so far this year, and we have seen the ignominious title of worst country in the world for trade unionists bestowed on Colombia. Fifty percent of all killings of trade unionists occur in Colombia. It tops the list worldwide.

Is that not the real reason why closure is being invoked today, that with all of these incredible revelations coming forward in the last few days the Liberals and Conservatives are simply embarrassed to have a real debate on this floor, a real democratic debate that allows members of Parliament more than two hours to debate this agreement and talk about the issues facing Colombians and the appalling human rights violations? Is that not the real reason why they are bringing in the bulldozer today?

Context : Question

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Madam Speaker, I have to say to start off that we have a minister that is not even aware of the export figures from his own ministry. We asked him for the constant dollar value of exports into the countries where we have signed bilateral trade agreements and his ministry could not furnish them. It could not even furnish constant dollar figures.

What they show is that exports have gone down every single time Canada has signed a bilateral trade agreement. Obviously, there is something wrong with the Conservative approach. I will let the minister chew on that.

There are two elements that he needs to understand since there has only been two hours of debate at report stage and the government is bringing in the bulldozers.

Number one, every single human rights organization on the planet disagrees with him and says there are serious human rights concerns. Him and his Conservative and Liberal colleagues say everything is fine in Colombia, but the experts actually disagree. Human rights organizations have said there is constant targeting of human rights activists, trade unionists and aboriginal and Afro-Colombian peoples, as well as the lesbian and gay community.

Number two, his pretension that the kill a trade unionist, pay a fine component of his deal are somehow—

Context : Questions and Comments

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is nice to hear the fiction from the parliamentary secretary. Obviously the fact that he and his Liberal colleagues cut off debate at the committee and refused to hear from so many representatives from labour unions, civil society groups, the Colombian labour movement, and of course aboriginal people and African Colombia groups obviously has not helped lack of information about Colombia.

He was mentioning earlier that the Colombian government and the military forces have not been involved in any massacres of aboriginal people. Therefore I would like him to say on the record, does he deny that the Colombian military or paramilitary forces have been involved in the massacres of Awá aboriginal peoples? It is a very straight up question.

The second point I would like to raise is the issue of the government's wrong-headed trade strategy. We saw the softwood lumber sellout which was one of the worst trade agreements ever signed but all of the other agreements that the Conservatives have signed have led to a decrease in exports to those markets. Therefore the economic arguments do not hold water either.

Is the parliamentary secretary aware that constant dollars are different from current dollars and so we actually see a deduction in trade?