“Cease free trade talks with Colombia and Peru” – Delegation demands

November 21, 2007

On November 20, the four people who appear in the photo at right held a press conference on Parliament Hill to demand that the Harper Government cease the free trade talks with Colombia and Peru immediately. (Photo credit: Canadian Labour Congress)

From Left to Right the people are:

Bishop Juan Alberto Cardona, leader of the Methodist Church of Colombia
Rick Arnold – Common Frontiers
Gauri Sreenivasan – Canadian Council for International Cooperation
Steve Benedict – Canadian Labour Congress

Some excerpts from the press conference:

Bishop Cardona: “If Canada were to assess the real impact of a trade deal on the lives of Colombians, I believe it would change its mind on the advisability of continuing negotiations.”

“The government of Colombia is desperate for a deal with Canada – it’s like a stamp of approval. But we say, stop the killing of innocent Colombians, disarm the paramilitaries, and protect human rights before any deals are made.”

Steve Benedict: “Why did Canadian negotiators ask their Colombian counterparts to withhold the content of the labour texts, especially from Canadian unions and NGOs? The issues raised by these talks are too important to exclude Canadians from the discussion.”

Rick Arnold: “We are calling on the Canadian government to halt these negotiations with Colombia. It is the wrong deal with the wrong country – a deal that will benefit transnational corporations while deepening the divide between rich and poor, in a land where violence and impunity are the rule.”

“By going down this road the Canadian government risks garnering significant international disapproval. Further trade talks with Colombia should wait for full public discussion and Parliamentary debate, and for a human rights impact assessment to be held.”