I will carry on, Madam Speaker.
At present, there is no protection for unions. In Colombia, one can kill a trade unionist and pay a fine. Does that qualify as protection of life and human rights? I think not. In that case, how can we be expected to vote for a free trade agreement with a country where we know human rights are not respected? While some Liberal members said this morning that progress had been made, the fact remains that 48 trade unionists were killed in 2008, as my colleague indicated. That is certainly 48 deaths too many. I do not think that Canada would have tolerated having 48 trade unionist murdered on its territory in 2008. That would make absolutely no sense because human rights are respected in Canada. So why do we not care about a South American country where human rights are much more severely trampled and very little progress is being made? Too little progress can be expected to be made, say within the next year, to see an agreement signed and expect that everything will be fine from then on.
The prevailing political, economic and social conditions in Colombia are deplorable, and not just because there are so many poor people. Conditions are bad because of the 17% of the population that I mentioned earlier, the people who are in government, who keep the government in power, who control commercial activity, and who thwart efforts to pass social legislation. We are not talking about a democratic government that all citizens have a say in. Most of the illiterate people do not have a chance to express themselves. One has to wonder why a government like Colombia's would even want to sign a free trade agreement with Canada. Clearly, the real reason for this agreement is investment.
If Colombia is just after investment, then, to be sure, it will not bite the hands that feed it. It will not pass restrictive laws. It is clear to me that an agreement like this one, with a poor country, is not an agreement between equals. The poor country wants an agreement that makes it easier for investors to play a leading role. This agreement is ill-conceived. It will enable the Government of Colombia to keep doing what it has been doing all along. The government will not voluntarily pass measures that could reduce returns on those investments, and this agreement will not require it to do so.
These are all reasons why we must vote against this agreement. I believe that anyone voting for this agreement will be doing so for purely electoral reasons.