Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Harper Index, a site devoted to keeping close and careful attention on the wheelings and dealings of Canada's Conservative Prime Minister, has a recent article on Steven Harper's push to put a free trade agreement in place with the country of Columbia, despite the latter's abysmal human rights record. While Harper claims that "trade must no trump human rights" in reference to China (while, of course, doing little of any substance beyond the noise-making) he sings a different tune in regard to Columbia, putting trade negotiations with its government on a fast track. Agreements could be signed as early as this Monday, despite the fact that opposition parties plan to introduce a resolution to the parliamentary committee on international trade calling for a halt to negotiations unless human rights issues are addressed.
The Canadian Labour Congress is coordinating rallies across Canada against the proposed deal because "it condones the violent repression of dissent and because almost all of the thousands of murders of trade unionists there have gone unpunished". In this case the Harper government is even more reactionary than that of the USA, which rejected a similar trade pact because of human rights concerns. In the past 5 years there have been 955 illegal executions of civilians by the Colombian military and paramilitary forces. So far this year 27 trade unionists have been murdered.
The present negotiations are being carried out very much behind closed doors. The Canadian government has even gone so far as to ask their Colombian partners to not share the labour related texts of the agreement with Canadian unions and non-governmental organizations, a request that you can be sure the Colombians will be happy to comply with. There has been no citizen input nor parliamentary oversight at all about the proposed pact. details are actually kept quite secret.
The actions of Harper's government are being used as supporting arguments by George Bush's administration in the USA to try and ensure passage of a new and similar initiative down there. With enough such service it is possible that Harper may one day be allowed to kiss both cheeks when he kneels behind his master.
To read more about this issue go to the article in the Harper Index.

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