On Friday April, 16, a narrow majority of MPs (50 vs. 44) approved the Conservative government's undemocratic and under-handed motion to evoke closure on second reading debate of Bill C-2 (an Act to Implement the Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement). Of the 44 MPs who opposed the Conservative motion, 24 are Liberals.
On Monday, April 19, at the end of the final day of debate on Bill C-2, Parliament will vote on approving second reading of Bill C-2. Urge the Liberal's MPs to vote NO !
Andrews.S@parl.gc.ca, Belanger.M@parl.gc.ca, Cotler.I@parl.gc.ca, Dion.S@parl.gc.ca, Dryden.K@parl.gc.ca, Duncan.K@parl.gc.ca, Easter.W@parl.gc.ca, Goodale.R@parl.gc.ca, Holland.M@parl.gc.ca, Lee.D@parl.gc.ca, Mendes.A@parl.gc.ca, Murphy.B@parl.gc.ca, Pacetti.M@parl.gc.ca, Proulx.M@parl.gc.ca, Ratansi.Y@parl.gc.ca, Russell.T@parl.gc.ca, Scarpaleggia.F@parl.gc.ca, Silva.M@parl.gc.ca, Simms.S@parl.gc.ca, Tonks.A@parl.gc.ca, Trudeau.J@parl.gc.ca, Valeriote.F@parl.gc.ca, Wrzesnewskyj.B@parl.gc.ca, Zarac.L@parl.gc.ca
Dear Liberal Member of Parliament,
On Friday April 16 Liberals present in the House rejected the Conservatives’ move to evoke closure on second reading debate of Bill C-2, the Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Thank you for standing with other opposition parties to expose the undemocratic move by the Conservative government. On Monday night you will vote at the end of debate on the CCFTA and I strongly urge you to vote against this Agreement. No steps have been taken to alleviate human rights concerns in Colombia nor respond to concerns raised by civil society organizations in both countries about Columbia’s compromised Presidential elections. In fact, the ‘fix’ proposed by your own party member – Opposition Trade Critic Scott Brison – raises further concerns about the Agreement’s future impact. The proposal that the Colombian government should be able to fairly assess its own human rights record lacks any credibility. Why would the Liberal party backtrack so quickly from its earlier position that a full and independent human rights impact assessment should be carried out before a final free trade agreement is ratified with Colombia?
Nothing has changed in Colombia since then. Recent UN and Amnesty International reports show escalating violence against Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, including murder and forcible displacement from communal lands. The National Labour School (ENS) of Colombia has also documented the murders of 45 trade unionists in 2009. These accounts, and unacceptably high impunity rates, have been enough to stall and even stop similar free trade agreements in allied countries, including Belgium and the United States.
During recent legislative elections in Colombia, in which President Uribe’s allies were the big winners, polling stations in one-third of the country’s municipalities were at risk of violence, corruption or fraud, according to the ombudsman's office and election observers, who reported vote-buying and pressure on voters.
A pre-election observation mission to Colombia in February predicted this would happen based on a tour of the country. The mission’s Canadian members concluded that entering into a free trade agreement with Colombia now would not only “send the wrong message to Canadians and the Colombian regime, it also may make Canada and Canadian companies complicit or passive supporters of continued violence in Colombia.”
I urge you to consider your vote on Monday night carefully and vote no. There are too many problems with the Agreement, the government has consistently moved to fast track this Agreement through the House, ignoring the will of thousands of Canadians; the recommended independent human rights impact assessment has not happened; the ‘Brison deal’ is seriously flawed; this electoral period in Colombia has only further proven that democracy is fragile and in jeopardy; and the rush towards signing this Agreement before the upcoming presidential election is disingenuous.
Your party’s original position was the right one. The Liberals need to respect the Standing Committee on International Trade’s June 2008 recommendation that an “impartial human rights impact assessment be carried out by a competent body, which is subject to independent levels of scrutiny and validation… before Canada considers ratifying and implementing an agreement with Colombia.”