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Canada-Colombia FTA on life support, but still breathing

October 9, 2009

Canada-Colombia FTA on life support, but still breathing

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Proponents of the the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (Bill C-23) faced a few hurdles over the past few weeks, but the deal is far from dead.

Bill C-23 is on the order paper for October 19th, when Parliament resumes after fall recess.

The deal has undergone eight days of debate in Parliament, most recently as subject to an NDP sub-amendment to a Bloc amendement to the bill.

The NDP's sub-amendment was meant to "stop the FTA from going to second reading, essentially killing the agreement," according to Stuart Trew, trade campaigner for the Council of Canadians.

The sub-amendment was jettisoned by the Liberals and the Conservatives (74 in favor, 194 against).

Next stop is for the Tories and the Grits to tackle the Bloc's amendment to the Bill, which according to activists tracking progress of the deal "will 'flush' out the positions of Liberals on C-23."

The following is the Bloc amendment on C-23:

[That] the House refuse to give second reading to Bill C-23, an act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Colombia, the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Colombia and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Colombia because the government concluded the agreement while the Standing Committee on International Trade was considering the matter, thereby demonstrating its disrespect for democratic institutions.

Essentially the amendment is calling the government on a process question, harking back to when the Canada-Colombia deal was concluded before a Parliamentary Report meant to guide the negotiations had been completed.

An excellent analysis by Micheál Ó Tuathail examines many of the ongoing human rights violations in Colombia, and links them to the recent visit of MPs Bob Rae and Scott Brison to Colombia.

Activists active in the campaign against the Canada Colombia FTA encourage Canadians to contact Liberals to voice their opposition to the deal, and to drop a line of encouragement to NDP and Bloc MPs who have stood up against the agreement.

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