This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

Evidence of meeting #43 for International Trade in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was report.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Juan Diego Gonzalez Rúa  Researcher, Escuela Nacional Sindical
Jennifer Moore  Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada
Augusto Solano  President, Association of Colombian Flower Exporters
Carlo Dade  Senior Fellow, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa

1 p.m.

NDP

Annick Papillon NDP Québec, QC

I have a straightforward question about protecting Canadian investors. You rightly talked about it, Ms. Moore. It is important to protect our Canadian investors. We must make sure that they will not help to maintain the situation, that they do not encourage or profit from it. Can you tell us a little more about that?

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

I'll allow a very short answer, Ms. Moore.

1 p.m.

Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada

Jennifer Moore

Our perspective is that this agreement has strengthened the current legislative framework for Canadian investors in Colombia, particularly speaking about the mining sector, and that civil society in Colombia, together with organizations here in Canada, are identifying serious risks to indigenous and Afro-Colombian lands and to vital sources of water.

The way in which mining concessions have been granted quite carelessly across much of Colombian territory means that there is dangerous overlap with vital sources of water, with ancestral lands of Afro-Colombian and indigenous peoples, and entire communities that currently make their living from activities such as small-scale mining.

One of the cases explored within the Colombian report, which you may have read already, would involve the entire displacement of a community that has relied, for some 400 years, on small-scale mining investments in order to make way for a Canadian company that would, in a period of 20 years, basically exploit all of the gold reserves in this area and then presumably walk away, putting effectively thousands of people out of work and displacing an indigenous community as well that's not been fairly consulted on that project, and potentially having serious impacts on sources of water that flow into the Cauca River, which is one of the main water supplies in the country. That's just one example.

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Thank you very much.

Mr. Holder, the floor is yours. You have five minutes.

1 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder Conservative London West, ON

Thank you, Chair.

I'd like to thank our guests for being here today.

Ms. Moore, may I ask, are you a member of a political party?

1 p.m.

Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada

1 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder Conservative London West, ON

The reason I ask that as a question is that often when we get guests who come to our table they'll provide a variety of testimony and they'll be as objective as they can. And I'm certainly not here to lecture anyone as to how they should approach their testimony, because, respectfully, they have their own view of it, but when you talk about the representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade who came to our last meeting and you called it Conservative window-dressing, I must tell you, I'm very disappointed in that. If members opposite say that, we think that's part of the cut-and-thrust, but when people come as our guests to this committee, I would think they might show a little more respect. I say that mindfully, because you are here as a guest. I just share that as my thought to you, and that's probably all I'm prepared to say about that.

Mr. Solano, I might ask you a question, please. You come from a very aggressive and it sounds like flourishing industry, the flower industry. My family actually owns the oldest flower shop in Canada, and I know we buy flowers from Colombia, so I hope this is not a conflict of interest, these questions. What I heard you say—and perhaps you can clarify for me—is that there were some 30,000 jobs lost. It wasn't clear to me whether that was in the flower industry, and if it was, that sounded like it was recent. Can you help explain as to why that occurred, please?

1 p.m.

President, Association of Colombian Flower Exporters

Augusto Solano

Yes. In the last five years we have undergone a re-evaluation process, and the peso has appreciated. You know this very well. This phenomenon has been an appreciation of the peso and a devaluation of the American dollar.

Fifty percent of our costs are labour costs. Therefore, the industry has been in a very complicated situation. This has occurred in addition to two other things. There has been the economic crisis in our main markets for the last few years, and of course there are problems in the United States and in Europe as well.

As well, there is the tsunami that took place last year. That had an impact on us. There is also the climate situation in Colombia, as you know. Last year the weather had a great impact.

But truly, the problem was with the peso, and today there are two senators in our Senate who are taking steps to see what can be done about that. As you know, we have the Dutch competition, and that has led to 30,000 jobs lost in our sector—

June 12th, 2012 / 1:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Chair, I'm sorry, I don't want to interrupt our friend, but I do have a brief point of order.

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

A point of order? Go ahead.

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Besides asking the witness about her personal voting preference or party membership—

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

No—

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Can I make my point?

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Very quickly.

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

He asked a question of the witness and did not give her any chance to respond, and I think improperly—

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

That's fine. That's not a point of order.

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Well, I'm getting to my point, Mr. Chair, which is that he improperly stated to this witness that they are a guest of the committee. They are witnesses to this committee. As a witness, they have a right to present their testimony—

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Okay.

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

—and answer questions, Chair.

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

Okay, that's enough. You made your point. Witnesses can answer the way they wish—

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

But he didn't give her a chance to answer. That's my point of order.

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

—and questioners can ask the way they wish. We'll leave it at that.

Go ahead, Mr. Holder.

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder Conservative London West, ON

May I ask how much time...? I hope that—

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Rob Merrifield

I'll add to it. Go ahead.

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder Conservative London West, ON

Thank you very kindly. Can I ask the time, please, if I might, just to give me some idea?