Ottawa falling short on key provision of free-trade deal

By Kim Mackrael
Published in the Globe and Mail

The federal government is falling short on a landmark pledge to document how a free-trade deal with Colombia is affecting human rights in the South American country, non-governmental organizations say.

Ottawa agreed in 2010 to produce an annual report on human rights, in part to assuage fears that abuses might go unchecked as bilateral trade and investment increased. But more than two years after the free-trade agreement came into effect, critics say the government has failed to produce a substantive assessment of the human-rights situation in Colombia.

Canada’s first report concluded that it was too soon to analyze the human-rights situation in Colombia and promised a more detailed assessment in 2013. A second report was produced last year but concluded it was not possible to make a direct link between Canadian trade and human rights. It did not assess the potential impact of Canadian investments on human rights in Colombia.

Canadian NGOs say there are few indications that this year’s report will be much of an improvement.