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Standing Committee Report on Canada - Colombia FTA

July 2, 2008

Standing Committee Report on Canada - Colombia FTA

The Report of the Standing Committee on International Trade, "Human Rights, the Environment and Free Trade with Colombia," is a hastily written document based on the Committee's work around the Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

The report in itself is not great, but the recommendations are important. It will be key for Canadians to pressure the Harper government to abide by the recommendations, which are an obstacle to the signing of the FTA, but which the Conservatives are likely to try and bypass.

The recommendations are reproduced below.

Meanwhile, the scandals continue to pile up for the Uribe regime. See: Declaration of Carlos Gaviria (PDA) on Uribe's declaration of a 'Populist Dictatorship,'.

UPDATE: Justin Podur on the release of Ingrid Betancourt.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

Recommendation 1:

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada should
not sign and implement a free trade agreement with the Government of Colombia until the Canadian government has taken into account the recommendations contained in this report, including those of the dissenting reports.

Recommendation 2:

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada maintain close ties with Colombia without signing a free trade agreement until there is confirmation that the improvements noted are maintained, including continued improvement as regards displacement, labour law and accountability for crime, and until the Colombian government shows a more constructive attitude to human rights groups in the country.

Recommendation 3:

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada draw on
the work of the organization Rights and Democracy to give an
independent body the mandate to conduct studies regarding the
impact on rights and the environment when it is negotiating economic agreements with countries at risk, as in the case of the agreement with Colombia.

Recommendation 4:

The Committee recommends that an independent, impartial, and
comprehensive human rights impact assessment should be carried out by a competent body, which is subject to levels of independent scrutiny and validation; the recommendations of this assessment should be addressed before Canada considers signing, ratifying and implementing an agreement with Colombia.

Recommendation 5:

The Committee recommends that any trade agreement with Colombia ensure that separate deals on labour and the environment exceed the template of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in order to set a higher standard for future negotiations.

Recommendation 6:

The Committee recommends that any trade agreement with Colombia must be accompanied by legislated provisions on corporate social responsibility and reporting mechanisms to monitor the implementation of universal human rights standards by Canadian entities investing in Colombia.

Recommendation 7:

The Committee recommends to the Government of Canada (a) that any trade agreement with Colombia include a compliance and enforcement mechanism for both the environment and human rights, comparable to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) model, exceeding the template set by NAFTA; (b) that such mechanisms must be independent and objective, receiving adequate funding to complete their tasks and include a built-in inflation escalator; (c) that they should include a process that ensures public monitoring and input through such mechanisms as citizenship submissions.

Recommendation 8:

The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada develop
new social responsibility standards for corporations as regards compliance with universal human rights standards. Non-compliance with these basic standards could lead to Canada imposing penalties on these corporations.


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