Canada-Colombia Trade Deal Removed from Canadian Governments Legislative Agenda

Original Publication Date: 
1 June, 2009
As a result of increasing parliamentary and public concern, Bill C-23, the implementing legislation for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), has been removed from the Canadian government's current legislative agenda. Ratification of the FTA requires majority parliamentary approval of implementing legislation for the agreement, which was signed November 21, 2009. Second reading of the controversial bill began May 26, 2009. In a turn around from earlier statements, The Liberal Party of Canada joined the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois in calling for a human rights impact assessment (HRIA) before further votes on the bill (effectively signaling a lack of majority support for the Bill at this time). The HRIA was recommended as an essential step of due diligence by the Parliamentary Committee for International Trade in June 2008, but has seen no action since. Debate on the Bill is now unlikely to re-commence until the Fall of 2009. In response, the President of COlombia -Alvaro Uribe- will now testify before Parliamentary Committe in Ottawa June 10, so the debate is far from concluded. Toronto star calls Canada now Uribe's top trade target (?!): The decision for Canada to move ahead with this trade deal, even as other countries like Norway, the US and the UK are putting off trade deals and/or increasing pressure on the Colombian Government to address human rights violations , has been met with widespread condemnation by citizens across Canada. Thousands of letters, petitions and other actions have been undertaken with Members of Parliament. An analysis of the text of the agreement produced by CCIC, the Canadian Labour Congress, the CCPA and the Canadian Labour Lawyers Association concludes the deal will aggravate the crisis in Colombia and provides ineffectual measures to address human rights and environmental concerns. See Spanish: