Mr. Speaker, I would like to make some comments on the former speaker's remarks, but maybe I will try to include those in the points that I am going to make today.
I would like to speak about four particularly egregious parts of this free trade agreement, and then I would like to talk a little bit about the difference between free trade and fair trade, which I think is an argument and a discussion that we need to have.
This free trade agreement really is a failure regarding labour rights protection. It does not include tough labour standards, and by putting it into a side agreement, outside of the main text without any vigorous enforcement mechanism, it is destined to do absolutely nothing. There are problems with that.
The second egregious aspect of this free trade agreement is a failure regarding environmental protection. The environmental issue is also addressed as a side agreement. It has no enforcement mechanism to force Canada or Colombia to respect environmental rights. It is as simple as that.
The third egregious part of this free trade agreement is the investor chapter. I have been out on this and my party has been out on this for a number of free trade agreements, including NAFTA. This investor chapter is almost copied directly from NAFTA's chapter 11 on investor rights. The bottom line is that it allows companies to sue governments. That is dangerous. It involves the sovereignty of nations.
The fourth egregious part, and this is what the previous speaker was talking about, is agriculture and agricultural tariffs. Colombia's poverty is directly linked to agricultural development in a country where 22% of the workforce is agricultural. Now an end to tariffs on a number of Canadian goods could very well flood the market with cheap goods and could lead to the loss of thousands of jobs in the agricultural sector of Colombia.
Those are the four aspects of this agreement that really cause me some grief, and I think cause the rest of the NDP some grief.
Let me talk about free trade and fair trade. What do I mean when I talk about fair trade? We hear this expression all the time. Fair trade is really trade rules and agreements that promote sustainable practices, domestic job creation and healthy working conditions, while allowing us to manage the supply of goods, promoting democratic rights abroad and maintaining democratic sovereignty at home. All of those are elements of fair trade.
Free trade agreements that we have entered into, and I have spoken back in my riding and in this House about NAFTA and softwood lumber and other agreements, really fall quite short of being considered fair trade.
The question remains, how do we promote fair trade? When we make agreements, we can have new agreements which encourage improvement in social, environmental and labour conditions rather than just minimizing the damage of unrestricted trade. Federal and provincial procurement policies should stimulate Canadian industries by allowing governments to favour suppliers here at home.
How else can we promote fair trade? Supply management boards and single-desk marketers, like the Canadian Wheat Board, can help to replace imports with domestic products and materials. Lastly, we can promote fair trade with local, community and individual initiatives to buy fair trade imports and locally-produced goods.
Why fair trade and not free trade? Fair trade policies protect the environment by encouraging the use of domestically and locally-produced goods. We hear all about the 100 mile diet and all sorts of things going on in this country. I have a large agricultural sector in my riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River.
What using locally-produced goods basically means for the environment is less freight, less fuel and less carbon. By promoting environmentally-conscience methods for producers who ship to Canada, we can make a positive environmental impact.
By contrast, free trade policies, even those created with the environment in mind, do little to impede multinational corporations from polluting with abandon. The environmental side agreement of NAFTA, for example, has proven largely unenforceable, particularly when compared with other protections for industries and investors.
A system of fair trade that encourages the growth of Canadian jobs, both in quality and in quantity, fair competition rules and tougher labour standards will put Canadian industries on a level playing field with our trading partners and slow the international race to the bottom. That has resulted in the loss of thousands of Canadian manufacturing jobs.
Free trade rules, on the other hand, have hurt Canadian job quality. Since 1989, most Canadian families have seen a decline in real incomes. Fair trade can also protect labour rights by fostering the growth of workers' co-operatives and labour unions.
Like the environmental side accord, NAFTA's labour agreement has gone mostly unenforced, giving industries that are willing to violate workers' rights incentives to relocate Canadian jobs. Fair trade policies which favour co-ops, unions and equitable pricing will protect workers in the developing world who might otherwise be exploited and take away reasons for Canadian producers to export jobs.
Fair trade rules would also protect societies and human rights right around the globe. Although some predicted a human rights benefit from unrestricted free trade, this has yet to be seen. In contrast, conflicts between locals and multinational corporations in such places as Peru have become violent. A fair trade policy that aims for benefits for all parties can protect the most vulnerable from human rights abuse.
Here are some facts about Colombia.
Colombia is not, in the grand scheme of things, a very significant trading partner for Canada. It is our fifth largest trading partner in Latin America.
We have heard before in this debate, from various quarters, about the problems and the violence that goes on in Colombia. I have been to Colombia recently and while things have improved in the last six years in terms of numbers, it is still a country where three people a day on average are killed by land mines. That is the highest in the world. It is a dangerous place to live and it is a dangerous place to work.
What we can do with a trade agreement is help to promote a country that is healthy and respects human rights. Maybe that should be one of the most important things about a trade agreement, certainly a fair trade agreement.
If we think about the environment, nearly 200,000 hectares of natural forest are lost in Colombia every year due to agriculture, logging, mining, energy development and construction. The rights of indigenous peoples are trampled upon. Many people do not know that the very southern border actually runs along the Amazon River, where many of the indigenous peoples in Colombia live. It is a very important spot environmentally and a very important spot for indigenous people and indigenous rights.
Almost four million people in Colombia are internally displaced, and 60% of this displacement is really in regions of mineral activity, agricultural and other economic activities.
I do not believe that this free trade agreement is very well thought out. I do believe that improvements could have been made. We could end up with, rather than a free trade agreement, a fair trade agreement, if only the government had the will to do so.