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House of Commons Hansard #111 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was colombian.

Topics

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his very pertinent question. Yes, we do sometimes wonder what came first, the chicken or the egg. Can we help a country by going there and setting an example? Or should we establish preconditions? We could say to them that we will be prepared to enter into a free trade agreement in future but that they first have to address the human rights situation, try to control their militia in the regions and rein in FARC. That is what we must say to them. Most importantly, we must require a prospective trading partner to respect human rights. That is of great importance to me.

I find the member's question a little odd because he says that by going there we can show them how it is done. And yet we cannot go there. The Conservative government opposite tells us, in its travel reports for those who would usually go there, not to go, that it is dangerous. That is what it is telling us. Terrorist targets could be government buildings, airports, restaurants, public transportation vehicles.

How do you set an example in that kind of situation? You cannot. You can tell them to come to our country to see how things work. However, before we explain how it works, all governments must be required to respect human rights. That applies to the government of Colombia as well as to any other government with which we wish to do business.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. Liberal colleague's reasoning is completely wrong. It is unbelievable. The Bloc Québécois member was quite right when she said we need to have some guarantees and promises that a country will respect human rights before we sign a free trade agreement. What the Liberals, like the hon. member for Kings—Hants, are saying is unbelievable, namely, that this free trade agreement could improve the situation regarding human rights abuses and social injustices. How can anyone agree with that argument? It is absolutely unbelievable.

Do we not need to absolutely assure Canadians and Colombians that we will demand that human rights be protected before signing any agreements or accords with that country?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her question and her comment about the Liberal member. He said that we should set an example by signing the free trade agreement, then going down to see the Colombians and show them how democracy is done.

Anyone can see how things are working down there right now. In Colombia, democracy is ailing at best. They are having all kinds of problems running the country and preserving social order. What kind of example would the Conservative government give them? Here is what it would tell them: “Do not do things democratically”. Even this free trade agreement with Colombia is not being done democratically. The Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development did not want this agreement, did not want things to happen like this, but the government went ahead despite the committee's recommendation. That is what the Bloc Québécois' amendment is all about. We want nothing to do with this agreement.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will just take a few moments. I have spoken before, but I think what prompted me to get up and speak on this Canada-Colombia free trade agreement is the responses that referred to the Liberal member and also to me.

I am going to take my few moments to give some examples of what other countries are doing, what we have been doing, and what we are trying to do with this free trade agreement. We have had witnesses before our committee, and I happen to have the honour of being the vice-chair of the committee on international trade. I used to actually chair the committee years ago when we were in government. So I would like to believe that I know a little bit about this file.

The member from the Bloc talked about setting prerequisites before we sign a free trade agreement. That makes sense. I accept that. Who says that prerequisites or conditions have not been set in this agreement or this bill that is before us? We must not mislead Canadians. We did not just step up to the plate and say, “Oh, let us sign an agreement.” That is not what happened.

Here I am now, a Liberal member of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, defending what? A government bill. I am not defending the Conservative government bill. What I am defending here are jobs for Canada. What I am defending here is the opportunity for Canadians to get their share of the business, if I can put it that simply.

What we are also doing is we are doing it the Canadian way. This agreement that we are signing today is exactly the same type of agreement we have signed with other countries. It is on record. I just happened to stand up to participate in this debate, and I did not bring my notes, but I know I have referred to specific examples of other countries with whom we have signed these agreements with, like Israel, Costa Rica, the United States and Mexico.

This agreement today, between Canada and Colombia, is patterned around those same agreements. If we were okay to sign those agreements then, the question then becomes, why is it not okay now?

I also had the privilege of chairing the committee when President Uribe of Colombia was here in Ottawa. The gentleman came before our committee and talked about the reality of the situation. He is not walking away from the problems that Colombia is facing today. He never said there were not problems. What we are saying is, “Let us address those problems together.”

Other countries have good trade agreements. Let me give one example. We have the European Union. It is a body of countries that decided to engage together and create a market. They keep adding every so many years to this community. Turkey is an applicant for membership to the European community.

Before they can become members, there are certain prerequisites that are set out that each country has to meet. Today Turkey is on a collision course with respect to the Cyprus issue. Cyprus is a full member of the European community, and there is a conflict there, whether it is entrance to ports, airports, the green line, or property rights. A country like Cyprus today is in the 21st century. We are not looking to conquer countries, we are looking to work with countries.

Turkey is an applicant member. Why is the European community saying no to Turkey? What it is saying to Turkey is, “Of course we want you to become a member and we want you to start meeting these targets. There is a progression until you reach full membership”.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

You are making an argument.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

I am making that argument.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

You are making our argument.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

No, no. I am not making your argument.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Vote against it. Vote against Bill C-23.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

What I am saying is that we do not turn away from these opportunities which are our business people out there. Our business community is encouraging us.

There have been undertakings in Colombia to address the problems that exist: human rights violations, labour abuses, et cetera. The paramilitary has been brought up.

Frank Pearl, a highly recognized individual, was appointed some years ago by the Colombian government to help people reintegrate into society. There are tremendous amounts of money being invested so people can come out of the jungles, reunite and reconnect with their families, re-engage and retrain in order for them to become productive members of society. However, all this does not happen overnight. It cannot happen overnight. It is impossible for it to happen overnight, but it is one step at a time.

I have personally seen that the government of Colombia is very serious about taking on these challenges. What we as Canadians are saying to Colombia is yes, we are going to sign a free trade agreement, the same as we signed with Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica, Israel, et cetera.

I do not have the document with me, but I would be more than pleased to table the information I have available confirming what I just said in terms of the types of agreements we have signed with these other countries. The Canada-Colombia agreement is patterned the same way and uses the same types of parameters.

We have not lessened the conditions we are asking for as a country or the government is asking for today. I have personally expressed my support for it. If anything, we are becoming more stringent because when we signed an agreement years ago, let us say, with Mexico, between then and now we have learned, improved and fine tuned. We are always looking to better ourselves.

In response to some of the comments that were made earlier with respect to what the Liberal member said, referring to me, I can only encourage other colleagues to think of it this way as we hope to get this over and done with as soon as possible. There are several things.

The longer we delay, our country is going to lose out. We delayed in signing CAFTA, the Central America Free Trade Agreement. When the United States signed on, it was ratified by one vote. Canada lost out. Canadian jobs lost out. The Americans are looking at this agreement as well.

Earlier today representatives from the Pork Producers Association were in committee and they said the same thing, “Don't delay, it's going to cost us. Don't Delay”. They were talking about how Korea, for example, had signed a free trade agreement and we were going to lose business. Our pork products are not going to be able to compete. Who is going to lose? Canadian jobs are going to be lost.

The end result is that people will be going on employment insurance, something the New Democratic Party was promoting two weeks ago when we were talking about improving EI benefits. Canadians do not want EI. Canadians want to work. They want to get up Monday to Friday to go to work and know that they can spend the weekends with their families and be proud of bringing home their bread and butter. That is what Canadians want to do.

What is it that we have to do as government representatives? We have to create a platform or the conditions, if I may say, whereby our nation, business people, farmers and manufacturers have the ability to flourish and prosper, and as they prosper, jobs and wealth are created. The big deficit we now have, thanks to the new Conservative Party, will hopefully be eliminated. That is why I am supporting this free trade agreement, to generate revenue and bring down the $56 billion deficit.

I am in full support of it and I am asking the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party to look at it from that point of view. If we stay away, we are not really helping the people we want to help. By going there, we will show Colombia how we do it in Canada. We will insist that certain things are undertaken to ensure that we are headed in the proper direction.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my friend across the way.

Three and a half weeks ago I was in Copenhagen on an environmental conference preparing for a new international agreement. While I was there I met a legislator from Colombia and asked him if he was happy with this new agreement and how important it was for Colombia. He said very similar words as we just heard from the member, that it was important to give a country a chance to turn its back on some of the past atrocities and concerns and help it move forward.

If we bind Colombia's hands by not permitting it and Canadians to prosper, we are harming both countries. I would ask him to comment on how important it is that we work with other governments.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was really moved when the hon. member talked about giving Colombia a chance. That is really what this is all about. People say that we do not agree. I think that when it comes to common sense, we Liberals at least find room to agree.

There have been many times when we have voted for legislation that has been brought forward by the government of today because we think that it is good legislation or that it makes a lot of sense. We are supporting this bill because it makes sense. We want to give, not necessarily a country, but a people the chance to get jobs, put food on the table and improve themselves.

When a nation is working, it does not engage in crime. I think we all know that when unemployment is down, crime is also down. If we are going to help put the people of Colombia to work, then we are also helping them reduce crime. If we put them to work, we are going to work toward eliminating the labour abuses and human rights violations that we have talked about.

We can only achieve that by being there. The sooner we are there, the sooner we are going to resolve this issue.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point something out to my Liberal Party colleague, who also sits on the Standing Committee on International Trade.

When the report of our analysis of Colombia was adopted, the Liberals supported us, as did the NDP, in calling for and recommending that the government ensure that an independent body is established bringing together the various organizations representing business, the economic sector, but also human rights, so we would be able to assess the situation, and when the time came, give the green light for signing this free trade agreement.

A free trade agreement can also be used to change behaviour. If Colombia is interested in having real benefits, it will also be interested in making corrections to the way things are happening in Colombia.

We all know what is happening in Colombia. We know that there has in fact been an improvement.

That being said, has progress been significant enough that we can sign an agreement? If the Conservative government and its Liberal allies were serious, they would be proposing more investment in the area of international aid, through CIDA, for example, to make sure that Colombia gets out of this quagmire, this violence, and that there is an improvement from the standpoint of human rights. That is how the situation will be improved, not necessarily by engaging in trade solely to make money and supposedly to create jobs.

We know very well that the Liberals are supporting the Conservative government in order to profit from the situation.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is precisely why I used the example of Turkey as an applicant for membership to the European community. There is nothing wrong with doing a study, but we cannot afford to wait until the study is completed. We must move in parallel to whatever efforts are being undertaken.

That is why I deliberately used the example of Turkey as an applicant. There are violations that are taking place. I mentioned the Cyprus issue as one example. I do not want to mention any more, but the European community is not saying that it is not accepting Turkey's application or that it is not allowing Turkey to go through the process for membership to the European community because Cyprus is still under an illegal occupation. It is saying that it is moving along and also moving toward resolving the issue.

The same thing is being done with Skopje, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, who wish to gain membership but are being shown the prerequisites. I agree with Skopje. However, we must not stop the progress and wait for the outcome of the study.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, really, I just cannot start without making reference to my Liberal colleague and suggesting that he actually read some of the provisions that are in the European Union arrangements as opposed to the non-existent preconditions of the so-called free trade agreements that we have been signing. The level of his lack of knowledge is really quite astounding.

With regard to what we are doing here, let me provide a bit of an overview. The basic question we have to ask is why we are here debating this issue. Why are we here, when there are so many other issues we could be facing that are so much more important? More specifically, why are we, as a legislature, having to review a bill that would incorporate a trade agreement with a country that has a reputation like Colombia's?

Despite some of the other suggestions we have had with regard to our getting some minor trade advantages out of this agreement, the reality is that we are doing this for ideological reasons, driven by the ideology of both the Conservative and Liberal parties. We have seen them, in spite of promises in many cases to the contrary, consistently sign these types of agreements that have repeatedly been to the disadvantage of Canada, through which we have been taken advantage of or, in the case of agreements with smaller countries, through which we have taken advantage of them.

We continue to do that because there is this fundamental belief on the part of the those two political parties that these agreements, in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary, work. I have to assume that sometimes they have some doubts about the viability and validity of these types of agreements, but even then, they have put so much political capital into these types of agreements, into the politics of this country in particular, that they cannot back off, and I think sometimes their denial of just how bad these agreements have been is almost Freudian.

These agreements are part of the failed globalization movement driven, to a great extent, by large multinational corporations for their benefit, not for the benefit of the individual countries and certainly not for the benefit of the workers in those countries.

I will just use one small example that always struck me so strongly. After we signed NAFTA, we studied the impact on wages in Mexico. In spite of all of the trumpeting of how great a success NAFTA was, the average wage in Mexico fell by more than 10% over that five-year period. It did not go up; it actually fell by over 10%.

We saw in the same country the devastation of the agricultural community, particularly those who grew corn, because of the swamping of their markets by the United States.

We could go on repeatedly about how these agreements do not work, but we continue to drive them forward. This government does, and the previous Liberal government attempted to do the same thing. In spite of all that evidence, they do it.

However, with Colombia, we have to say, “Enough”. We have to look at that country and we have to ask how we could possibly agree to enter into a trade agreement with Colombia with the history it has which continues right to this day.

The member for Kings—Hants spent four days in Colombia listening to the propaganda of the government that was pushing for this agreement because it would benefit certain elements of Colombian society supported by that government.

This agreement will be a disaster for the average worker. It will be a disaster for environmental conditions. It will be a continuing disaster for human rights and human rights causes in that country.

The member for Kings—Hants was accompanied at that time by the member for Toronto Centre. They spent four days and became instant experts on Colombia after listening to all this propaganda. It was offensive listening to the member for Kings--Hants. I say that on a personal level because I remember the number of trade unionists from Colombia who have come through my riding over the last 10 or 15 years, some of whom went back to Colombia and were killed.

The member for Kings—Hants said that the death squads are gone and that the militia is not functioning there anymore. He said that even in the face of overwhelming evidence, report after report, that their activities continue to go on. Those death squads and those paramilitary units are closely affiliated with the full-time military and with the government of Colombia. They cannot pretend they do not know what is going on and know who is committing these atrocities.

Colombia has led the world consistently in the number of murdered labour leaders and labour activists. There has been a huge number of deaths in indigenous communities because multinational corporations and their allies in the corporate world in Colombia want to grab their land. Colombia has led the world in the number of human rights activists who have been killed or tortured as a result of the activities of those death squads and those paramilitary units.

Enough is enough. We cannot possibly think of entering into an agreement with a country such as Colombia. It is just completely foolhardy to think that by entering into an agreement, into what is really quite a nominal trading relationship, with no conditions on the environment, no conditions on labour standards, no conditions on human rights, that somehow we will magically bring that country up to the same standards as those of democratic countries. It is an argument that has no merit when one is dealing with Colombia, its government and the paramilitary. It has none whatsoever.

There are other models. There are models in South America, where some of the countries with larger economies have banded together to look at ways to increase trade between their countries without exploiting one country over another. It is a model that North America should be taking a look at.

The European Union tells Turkey and Czechoslovakia that they have to meet standards. Even after the countries have been admitted, they must continue to meet those standards.

I love the story about how the European Union said to Margaret Thatcher that her country could not be part of the European Union unless she fixed a minimum labour standard and a minimum wage. That was the big thing for her. She held out and refused to comply with that.

The European Union held out as well. It said it was not having a race to the bottom on employment standards and environmental standards. The European Union told her there would be a push to the top, that everybody would go to the top. The European Union wanted the best standards in the world and it has moved consistently on that. It is strong enough to tell those countries that are not prepared to move on that that they will not be allowed in. They will not get the advantage of the huge trading relationship it has established.

That is the model that we should be using, the model that the whole world should be using. We are seeing some of that already in South America. As the countries there began to democratize, they moved that way. It is interesting that those countries that have led the way on that have refused to enter into so-called free trade agreements with North America and they are continuing to do so. They are building their own model.

I see my time is just about up, but I will say there is absolutely no way that a country like Canada, which believes in democracy the way we do and human rights the way we do, should be signing on to this kind of an agreement.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, yet again the member for Windsor—Tecumseh has shown why he is the most learned member in this place, as chosen by Maclean's magazine, and I hope that members in the Conservative and Liberal parties, which are willing to throw aside all kinds of principles including the basic principles of human rights and labour rights and social and labour standards to deal with an administration that has ties to both paramilitary thugs and drug gangs, will think twice and give their heads a shake about whether their constituents would actually approve of this kind of link.

This week we had yet another report on widespread torture in Colombia from human rights groups indicating that torture connected with the military arm of the Colombian regime has gone up 80% over the last five years. There have been hundreds of cases of torture commited by the military arm of the Colombian regime that the Conservative government wants to have a privileged trading relationship with.

Does the member for Windsor—Tecumseh think Canadians would find it acceptable that, with torture by the military arm of the Colombian government exploding in Colombia, he think it appropriate that the Conservatives and Liberals come together now to try to ram this agreement through the House with closure?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster for the question and also recognize the excellent background work he has done for us as a caucus and also the work he has done in committee to try to fight this agreement.

It is clear where Canadians stand. We are not supportive of any regime that is going to treat its people the way the Colombian government historically has treated its people and continues to treat them right up to this day. I have not had a chance to read that full report. I have seen summaries of it, and it is just shocking. As recently as this week we have received that kind of report, and yet we are here in the House somehow foolishly believing that if we sign this agreement it is going to change the situation in Colombia. It is not.

I want to make one other point. What Canadians expect from us, as they expect right around the globe, is that if we have the opportunity to do so, we should try to better the conditions of countries that we have relationships with whether through international bodies that bring pressure on them to change their practices, or through using our foreign aid. There are any number of mechanisms, whether or not there are other diplomatic mechanisms we can use to bring pressure on the government to change. That is what Canadians expect us to do. They do not expect us to just sign a blank cheque and allow this kind of conduct to continue.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, in his speech the member for Windsor—Tecumseh referenced indigenous rights. I want to refer to the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal, the report of which, when referring to the extraordinary case of indigenous peoples, cited widespread acts of genocide, “imminent danger of physical and cultural extinction faced by 28 indigenous groups” and the fact that 18 of the communities have less than 100 members and “are suspended between life and death”. The report went on to set “a horrifying list of human and labour rights abuses that are shocking [to] the world”.

It is very disappointing that we have the Conservatives and the Liberals supporting the kind of trade agreement that is a direct violation of human rights, and I guess it is no surprise from the Conservative perspective because they refused to sign on to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I wonder if the member could comment on that link between the UN declaration and indigenous rights violations in Colombia.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan for her question. It was interesting because I think a number of us received letters this week urging us to pressure the government to sign on to the UN Declaration on Rights of Aboriginal Peoples around the globe. We are one of the few countries in the world, to our extreme embarrassment, that did not sign on.

For the Conservative government and, unfortunately, the Liberals to be willing to sign on to this agreement when we know those gross violations are going on for aboriginal peoples is just shocking.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Guimond Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, if we look closely at Bill C-23, the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement, it is difficult to understand why the Conservative government, with the support of the Liberals, is so bent on signing such a trade agreement.

From various viewpoints, this agreement runs counter to the concept of a responsible government working for the well-being of its citizens, but also the well-being of humanity. As my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, mentioned earlier this morning, the agreement proposed by Bill C-23 contains no significant measure that would serve, for example, to improve human rights.

In a country that has the worst human rights record in Latin America, Canada, even though it has certain economic interests, has an obligation to set conditions that might improve the situation. Until we have evidence to the contrary, the Conservatives are once again in breach of their duty.

The record on workers’ rights is just as distressing. Columbia is considered one of the worst places in the world for respect for workers’ rights: unionists there are targeted because of their activities. They are victims of threats, abduction and murder. As someone with a background in the union movement myself, I find this situation totally unacceptable.

This is not to mention the number of men, women and children who have to leave the comfort of their home because of conflicts between the state security forces, paramilitary groups and guerrillas. More and more, economic displacement is forcing small subsistence farmers and small miners to also leave their land, to the benefit of the big agri-food corporations or, once again, big mining multinationals.

Entire populations are being forced to move. Once again, there are no significant measures proposed in this agreement to correct such injustices, and it is completely false to believe that such an agreement will help the cause of the Colombian people.

Why do we want a free trade agreement with Colombia? It makes you wonder about the real reasons driving the government, not forgetting the Liberals, to want to ratify this agreement, whatever the cost.

Colombia is the fifth largest destination of Canadian exports to Latin America and the Caribbean. It is the seventh most important source of imports from the same region. In other words, Canada has more interesting preferred trading partners than Colombia.

In recent years trade between Canada and the other Latin American countries has substantially increased, reducing the proportion of trade with Colombia compared with the other countries of the region. Furthermore, Canada exports mainly automobiles and grains, and the great majority of Canadian investments in Colombia are in the extractive industries sector.

In my humble opinion, and as mentioned by some of my colleagues, to sign a free trade agreement there must necessarily be a relationship of equals between the two states. So they must be preferred commercial partners, and the level of their trade must make it attractive to lower trade barriers.

Let us be honest: Colombia is not a very attractive market, considering that trade between the two countries is particularly limited.

Could it be that the main motivation of the Conservative government in signing this free trade agreement is not trade, but rather investment?

I wonder about this because this agreement contains a chapter on protection of investment which, without a shadow of a doubt, will make life easier for Canadian investors investing in Colombia, and specifically in the mining sector. This chapter is strongly modelled on chapter 11 of NAFTA, which in fact constitutes a charter of the multinationals to the detriment of the common good.

More specifically, NAFTA chapter 11, which was the inspiration for the provision on investment in this agreement, includes the following points. Foreign investors can go directly to international courts, passing beyond the filter of the public good provided by governments. Exports are so broadly construed that any legislation which allegedly has the effect of reducing an investor’s profits can be equated with expropriation and result in a lawsuit. Even worse, the amount of the suit is not limited to the value of the investment and includes all potential future profits, which is far too much and totally unacceptable in this agreement.

This chapter has been criticized by everyone. As soon as some legislation, for example on human rights, reduces a foreign investor’s profits, the government is exposed to astronomical lawsuits. It is ironic that when the Liberals were in power, they signed several trade deals with clauses similar to NAFTA chapter 11 but they were severely criticized for these abusive practices and stopped signing such agreements. There they are now, though, very clearly supporting Bill C-23. They are going backwards, therefore, and delegating to multinationals the task of judging the common good.

I hope even the Conservatives and Liberals do not think that multinationals will serve the general public by giving it the resources it needs and working to ensure more respect for human rights, the rights of workers and the environment.

When I hear the Conservatives and Liberals say ad nauseam that we should support developing countries and help them progress, they are not mistaken. The Bloc Québécois and I think we have a duty to help other societies to progress and we should give them all the resources they need to achieve their goals. However, the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement does not do this.

Bill C-23 does not contain any significant measures to improve the economic, social and environmental situation in Colombia. We should not use pretexts in order to achieve our objectives and should instead take advantage of these business opportunities to develop a concept of fair globalization that includes human rights, workers’ rights, the environment and honest trade. That is what we want in Quebec.

We should remember that free trade is also supposed to help improve the lives of working people through higher wages and better working conditions. Even in Quebec, though, we find that a lot of companies prefer to close their factories and take advantage of low wages and the lack of adequate working conditions abroad. This approach creates unemployment in Quebec while the companies themselves continue to prosper.

Should we make this worse? We do not think so.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

November 17th, 2009 / 5:30 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions between the parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, during the debate tonight on the motion to concur in the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair and that when the last speaker has finished his speech or at the expiry of the time provided for the debate, the motion be deemed agreed to unanimously.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.