Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his fine exposé on the current situation in Colombia as well as in this House.
We have been discussing the pros and cons of Bill C-23 for several months now. On this side of the House, we think there are a lot more cons than pros. That is only to be expected.
As always, the Bloc Québécois is opposed to all injustice, not only in Quebec and Canada but everywhere in the world. This bill, unfortunately, would sanction a number of injustices.
When the government says that no crime victim or any one whose rights have been trampled, even here in Canada, should be ignored and tells us that it has a very busy law and order agenda, I think it is forgetting that there are places elsewhere in the world where people do not have the ability or even the possibility of defending themselves.
At present in Colombia, 30% of the people who in the government are being seriously investigated for corruption, collusion and all sorts of things and 60% of the rest are suspected of engaging in activities that are not exactly legitimate in view of their positions and responsibilities.
Every day in the House, members from one party or another rise to praise someone from their community or someone whom they know to remind us—because this person is deceased—of how important the person was to his or her family, children, colleagues at work and the people he or she met on a daily basis.
At times like those, I think it would be great for us to stop treating the victims in Colombia—the trade unionists and murder victims—as mere statistics despite what the Colombian government has to say and despite its efforts to minimize these crimes. We know of 109 murders between January 2007 and June 2008. I want to list a few of them and it would be good if my colleagues on the other side could start seeing them as human beings, as fathers and mothers of families and as people with responsibilities in society. These people are dead today because of their convictions and their work. I want to mention the following:
Maria Teresa Jesus Chicaiza Burbano, killed on January 15, 2007; Maria Theresa Silva Reyes, killed on March 28, 2007; Ana Silvia Melo Rodriguez, killed on May 19, 2007; Marleny Berrio de Rodriguez, killed on June 11, 2007; Leonidas Sylva Castro, killed on November 2, 2007; and Maria del Carmen Mesa Pasochoa, killed on February 8, 2008.
Other people who have been murdered include Maria Teresa Trujillo, killed on February 9, 2008; Carmen Cecilia Carvajal Ramirez, killed on March 4, 2008; Leonidas Gomes Rozo, killed on March 8, 2008; Victor Manuel Munoz, killed on March 12, 2008; Ignacio Andrade, killed on March 15, 2008; Manuel Antonio Jiminez, on March 15, 2008; Jose Fernando Quiroz, on March 16, 2008; Jose Gregorio Astros, on March 18, 2008; Julio Cesar Trochez, on March 22, 2008; Adolfo Gonzales Montes, on March 22, 2008; Luz Mariela Diaz Lopez, on April 1, 2008; Emerson Ivan Herrera, on April 1, 2008; Rafael Antonio Leal Medina, on April 4, 2008; Omar Ariza, on April 7, 2008; Jesus Heberto Caballero Ariza, on April 16, 2008; Marcello Vergara Sanchez, on June 5, 2008; and Vilma Carcamo Bianco, on May 9, 2009.
I could go on naming names for another 20 minutes. How many victims do there have to be in Colombia before this government wakes up and realizes that it is not a good idea to be negotiating a free trade agreement at this time with a country that has no more respect for human beings than this?
All of the persons I have named were unionists. All of them were working to improve the living conditions of people living in Colombia and trying to make a better life for themselves. But this government does not hear the names of the dead and murdered. It hears them only when it is in its interest to hear them, when it can spread propaganda, when it can use them.
This government should stop using the misfortune of others for its own advantage and start respecting people who work to earn a living.
At the moment, working people in Colombia are subjected on a daily basis to violence, murders and crimes. We cannot stand by and let this sort of thing go on. If we agree to this free trade agreement today, we are agreeing to the continuation of these murders of men, women and children.
I do not know if my colleagues are like me, but I believe that all of us have to look into our hearts, stop thinking about profit only—obviously, there is short-term profit involved here—and stop thinking that we can impose our law on the whole world. That is not the way it works, and that is not the way it will work in Colombia, where the government is corrupt virtually from top to bottom.
Do you think that the Colombian government will be suddenly cleansed of all its impurities because we sign a free trade agreement today with Colombia? One would have to be a little naive to think that.
Indeed, my colleague from Compton—Stanstead is right. You have to be a little naive or acting in very bad faith to believe such a thing. You have to be a little naive or acting in very bad faith to try to make this House vote in favour of a bill that has not been thought out and for which no serious consultation has been done. As my colleague from Shefford so aptly said, the only consultations that were done were not used to develop a free trade agreement that would stand up and take account of the rights and lives of the people in Colombia.
If we adopt this agreement, if we pass this bill, I will be ashamed as a Quebecker and a Canadian. I am ashamed that we would support such a bill. I am ashamed that we are trying every day, through the Justice minister, to introduce bills that will put crooks in prison using minimum sentences, with no consideration for judicial discretion. I am ashamed that we are trying to introduce bills that would throw a large part of the population, aboriginals primarily, into prison without any opportunity for rehabilitation. I am ashamed that we are permitting a corrupt government to keep on turning a blind eye to crime and the murder of its citizens who are doing everything they can to give the people living down there a better life.
I simply cannot believe this. I cannot believe that the members in the other opposition parties are turning a blind eye too. I do not believe it. If we stand up for the rights of the people we represent, we have to stand up, by virtue of our status as members of Parliament, for the rights of the people we represent everywhere in the world and for the rights of human beings.
The unionists have come to meet with us and let us know about these odious crimes committed against their sisters and brothers. We know perfectly well that they have not been heard by the government.
Is my time up, Madam Speaker? Very well then.