Friday, May 29, 2009

The proposed Canada/Colombia Free Trade Deal has been mentioned several times before here at Molly's Blog. The idea of opening a free trade deal with a country such as Colombia where human rights are basically a non-issue due to the tacit support of the regime for right wing thugs is problematic to say the least. The Harper government has now, according to this report from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) , been removed from the order paper for this session of Parliament. Some of this, of course, is due to the Harperites wishing to avoid any controversial legislation, especially when they are trailing in the polls, even legislation that could not conceivably be a confidence motion. The movement of protest against this deal can claim credit for convincing the Conservatives that such legislation would indeed be controversial. It mus be admitted, however, that the Canadian government decision to delay such a deal also owes a lot to the opposition in the USA to a similar deal. Harper is nothing if not a good poodle to his American masters, and in the end it is irrelevant whether they are right of centre or (barely) left of centre. In any case here is the story from CUPE, with, of course, much self-congratulation. (Molly Note- I don't want to appear to be too cynical. The public protest against the deal did indeed have at least some influence on the government decision, and it was admirable in its own right)


Activists block Canada Colombia free trade deal - for now:
For months now thousands of activists have raised concerns about the Canada Colombia free trade agreement. CUPE members, concerned Canadians and members of other unions have campaigned to stop the implementation of the Canada Colombia FTA.

We have held rallies, written letters, signed petitions and have brought Colombians to Canada to testify to parliamentarians about the horrific abuses of human and trade union rights. Canadians have said loud and clear that there must be an independent human rights assessment of the situation in Colombia before this government proceeds with any new trade deal.

This week the Harper government blinked and took the Canada Colombia free trade agreement legislation off the order paper. The proposed legislation has been removed from debate however the government has not withdrawn it.

“I want to thank every CUPE member that signed a petition or wrote a letter, said CUPE national president Paul Moist. But the fight isn’t over and we must keep up the pressure. If you haven’t yet signed a petition or written a letter please do and ask your co-workers, family and friends to do the same.”

There is division within the Liberal party about a future trade deal with Colombia. This division can only help us in our struggle to stop this terrible deal. The Colombian government in collaboration with large corporations has set out to privatize the public sector and to open up indigenous lands to corporate exploitation.

Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists and it is the worst human rights violator of the Americas. In the last 23 years 2,694 trade unionists have been assassinated. In 2008 under the current leadership of President Uribe 46 people have been assassinated , 157 threatened, 17 arbitrarily detained, 13 taken hostage and 4 disappeared.

CUPE members should be proud of the solidarity actions they have taken for Colombia. When we unite and take political action we can make a difference.

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