House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was colombia.

Topics

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #64

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 13 minutes.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

June 9th, 2010 / 4:05 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That in relation to Bill C-2, An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Colombia and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration of the report stage of the bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill and, at the expiry of the time provided for government business on the day allotted to the consideration of the report stage and on the day allotted to the third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30 minute question period. I invite hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their places so that the chair has some idea of the number of members who wish to participate in this question period.

I therefore call upon the hon. member for Burnaby--New Westminster.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

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, it is shocking that the government brings in the bulldozer of closure. 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 the Conservatives 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 are 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?

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, this issue has been debated abundantly in this House, notwithstanding the fervent efforts of the hon. member and his party to filibuster, delay and obstruct in every way possible.

In fact, the hon. member who just spoke, objecting to the lack of opportunities to speak to this bill in the House, has actually risen in this House to speak 71 times on this matter. Hold it, he spoke again. That is now 72 times he has risen in this House to speak to the subject of the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

I know he may think that having a chance to speak in this House, personally, 72 times is not enough, but I can say that from this side of the House we have heard quite enough from him to understand the issues and recognize they are not a reason to keep Canada from having the opportunity for the jobs and prosperity that this trade agreement will allow. There is an economic growth potential, and indeed there has been ample time to discuss and debate, including the 72 times he has risen to address it.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all Bloc Québécois members, I would like to point out to the minister and to the Conservative government that they have once again hamstrung us, just as they did in committee. They hamstrung us to prevent us from carrying out an in-depth study of this bill, which would implement a trade agreement with one of the world's worst human rights offenders. Colombia's record on this issue is so bad that even the United States, which had already opened free trade negotiations with it, has not pursued the matter because it knows that the human rights issues have not been resolved.

At least the Unites States is using its proposed agreement to exert pressure on Colombia, but Canada, which is one of the world's most highly industrialized countries, is about to sign an agreement with an outlaw nation. That will not benefit Canada or Quebec at all. We will be doing business with one of the world's biggest pariahs.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, there has been a lot of debate about this free trade agreement between Colombia and Canada. For example, the Bloc Québécois has spoken about this issue throughout numerous speeches from 41 members. That represents a lot of debate on this subject and plenty of opportunities for the Bloc Québécois to express its objections to this free trade agreement, which offers a lot of potential to Canada's workers and a lot of potential for economic growth in both Canada and Colombia. We are satisfied that all of the issues that could have possibly been discussed here have been.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Madam Speaker, I have two quick questions for the minister.

My first question is with regard to the allegations about labour abuses and human rights abuses. This is the first time in over 30 years that Colombia has been taken off the labour watch list. That is significant. There has been no recognition from that at all from the other parties.

My second question to the minister is about the accusations made by the member for Burnaby—New Westminster at committee. He brought forth the terrible accusation that the government of Colombia had murdered 12 members of two different Awa indigenous people's families in the jungle. He insisted that was correct. He insisted that was actually performed by the government. We found out that was not true at all. It was actually his socialist brethren in the FARC who murdered these families. The member totally misled the committee and has still never apologized for that.

I wonder if the minister would care to comment on both of these questions.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, our government is of the view that Colombia, particularly in recent years, has made considerable progress under the current administration to address issues of human rights, to take on the challenge of dealing with the narco-terrorists, the criminal gangs, who have caused so much disruption and been the source of the human rights violations that we have seen going on in Colombia for some time.

Considerable progress has been made. This free trade agreement is another example of that progress, which helps move along Colombia and improve the living conditions of all Colombians.

My friend raised the issue of the International Labour Organization's watch list in which it lists countries that have problems respecting workers' rights. After 21 years of being on that list, during president Uribe's administration, Colombia moved off that list because of exactly the improvements and living conditions that we have seen.

The International Labour Organization, the United Nations-based organization, is a respected organization. I did believe that the NDP respected its views but apparently that is not a view shared by the hon. NDP member. We certainly think it is consistent with what we have seen.

We have parallel agreements to deal with the environment and labour in this free trade agreement. The parallel agreement dealing with labour secures the fundamental rights of workers, the freedom of association and the like. These are all things that are protected within the agreement.

They have been debated at length in this House. We are simply asking that this House have an opportunity now, after over 100 full speeches addressing the issue of the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement, to be given an opportunity to vote and decide on this bill.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, it has been four years since the Bush administration signed an agreement with Colombia and yet the U.S. Congress has not ratified it. That should tell us something. For four solid years the United States of America has not seen fit to ratify its agreement with Colombia.

When the Conservatives were in opposition, they decried the whole idea of the Liberal government bringing in closure. The Liberal government brought in closure, I believe, 150 times. When the Conservatives were in opposition, they said that if they formed government they would not bring in closure. They have gone back on their word. They have broken the trust of the people of Canada. I ask them to come clean and admit that.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I would use the U.S. Congress as my test of how one would approach trade policy. It may not have ratified its agreement with Colombia but nor has it ratified its agreement with Panama. I do not hear the NDP citing human rights abuses there, nor its agreement with Korea. I think the same applies there.

In fact, that is the same Congress that brought in buy American provisions that cost the jobs of Canadian workers until this government was able to obtain a waiver through the Obama administration from those protectionist measures.

Therefore, I am not sure we want to use that as the test of how we should be making our decisions. In fact, Canada is a country that believes in free trade, that has succeeded through free trade. Two-thirds of our economy is trade based with 4.1 million jobs having been created in this country since we entered into the North American Free Trade Agreement. We now have a doubling of our trade with the United States and increased fivefold with Mexico since we entered into that free trade agreement, and prosperity and jobs have followed.

I understand that the New Democratic Party is ideologically opposed to any kind of free trade. I understand that its members will delay and obstruct. I know that they do not vote in favour of any trade agreements. That is fair, that is its policy.

However, that should not put the NDP members in a position where they deny to the rest of the members of the House of Commons the opportunity to actually vote. That is what they are doing by delaying and obstructing the House through extensive parliamentary tactics. They have had 41 full speeches and they only have 36 members in their caucus. They can hardly complain of a lack of opportunity to address this matter. They have addressed it fully.

What they should allow is an opportunity for the members of the House to vote on the bill and decide whether or not they wish to adopt it.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I have said this in the House before and I will say it again.

I was a trade unionist for 16 years. I went to work every day and I defended workers when they had issues at work. I defended workers when they wanted to discuss, and sit down with their employers and talk about their working conditions.

Colombia is the number one country in the world for murdering trade unionists.

I stood in the House and read out the names of the number of trade unionists who were killed.

The Conservatives can make fun of us over there, they can make light of it all they want. I wonder how they would feel if people they worked with were murdered because they went to work every day.

This is the country that the government wants to sign a preferential trade deal with. I would hasten to add that there are other countries in the world right now that have better records of human rights that Canada could and should be trading with.

For the government to stand up and pursue a trade agreement with Colombia says a lot. It speaks volumes about the lack of values that the government has and the lack of respect it has for the rights of workers in this world.

This has nothing to do with trade. Our party has always stood up for trade with other countries. Canada is a trading nation. It is ludicrous to suggest that any party in the House does not support trade.

The question is this. Do we support trade with butchers? I would ask the government to stand up and tell Canadians why it wants to sign a trade deal with one of the worst butchering governments on this planet.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, when the New Democratic Party members voted against free trade with the United States, I do not know what their test was. Perhaps they say the test is whether or not they are butchers. We do not consider the U.S. government to match that description. I do not recall the NDP members actually ever supporting that or the North American Free Trade Agreement. In fact, I have trouble recalling any free trade agreement they have supported.

However, there is no one that can credibly argue that this trade agreement will in any way hurt the living conditions of the Colombians. In fact, those who are objecting to it are simply saying, “We don't like Colombia”, not that this trade agreement will be bad for the people of Colombia.

It will improve the living conditions of the people of Colombia not only because of the economic prosperity and job opportunities that will result but because we have in our parallel agreements protections for people through the environmental accord and labour accord.

The labour agreement covers and gives people guaranteed rights: the right of freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, guarantees the abolition of child labour, the elimination of discrimination, and providing protections for occupational safety and health.

These are all protections that are being provided and guaranteed through this agreement with the Colombian government, something that I think we should all recognize as positive progress consistent with the overall positive progress that we have been seeing.

Bill C-2--Time Allocation Motion
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Madam Speaker, I am very disappointed in the extreme reaction of the NDP members. They do not seem to want to allow the minister to speak. They are screaming at him, they are using extreme language and maybe that is more an indication of their position here rather than dealing accurately with the bill.

These free trade agreements are great things because they do a number of things. The NDP opposes even a general sentence like that. I do not know how those members can stand and say that they want to support free trade. As the minister pointed out, they have opposed it at every possible place and every position they can.

Free trade agreements open up trade around the world and allows nations to step into their place in the global economy. They give opportunities, particularly for nations which need to improve their economies, to improve the conditions in their country. It requires responsibility from these countries as well, and that is one of the reasons why we do this. The NDP does not seem, as usual, to understand that either.

I also point out that I am from an agricultural area and there is significant agricultural trade with those South American nations and with Colombia. We never hear the NDP members talk about that. They refuse to because they do not have any connection any longer with the agricultural areas in this country or anywhere else around the world.

Once again, those members are shouting across trying to keep other people from speaking, but that seems to be the way they want to conduct this debate. Therefore, we have come to the point today where it is time to vote. They have had their say, but they do not want anyone else to have their say.

I would like the minister talk a little about the benefits to agriculture as well as the overall benefits of this agreement for Canadians, for Canadian farmers and for Colombians as well. It is time to move on from these old-fashioned ideas of the world, which we hear from across the way here. Those members believe in protectionism and fear over facts. They believe in using misleading statements. They will even try to present information at committee that is inaccurate. They do not seem to be willing to apologize or to accept the fact that they have been misleading Canadians and parliamentarians with their information.

Why would NDP members be locked in a time warp like this? They seem unable to get out of it. Could the minister explain to us the benefits of moving ahead, the benefits of free trade, the benefits that Canadians and Colombians might experience from this agreement?