May 30, 2009

One meeting, two conclusions?

May 28, 1:00PM on Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's 'Twitter' page:
"Met with Colombia’s Foreign Affairs Minister. Had a frank discussion about human rights in his country."

A note hardly worth posting to the blog, right? Well, there's a lot in there.

First, the "frank discussion about human rights" granted Colombian Foreign Minister Bermúdez was earlier that day denied Colombian human rights activist Yessica Hoyos Morales, who was turned away by the Trade Committee after the Conservatives, with the support of Liberal Trade critic, Scott Brison, voted to end the Standing Committee's session 30 minutes early so as not to hear her testimony. Brison had earlier promised to give her a chance to address the Committee and tell her story.

The meeting with the Foreign Minister tells us who the Liberals are willing to talk to, how they intend to 'investigate' the situation in Colombia, and that they continue to send out ... how do we put this... 'mixed signals' to the Canadian public.

A day after the Minister's meeting with the Liberals, the Colombian government's Press Secretary releases a statement (translated below) in which the Foreign Minister expressed confidence that the Canada-Colombia FTA will be approved, claiming "there is a willingness to support the Canada-Colombia FTA."

Not a willingness to study the situation in Colombia and the impact of the CCFTA, but a willingness to find ways in which it will be politically feasible for the Liberals to support the Conservatives on their deals with criminal regimes.

What will come we do not know. Will the Liberals get serious? For now, unfortunately, what we see is a willingness to listen to the regime and to ignore the victims.

Here's a basic question. After a such a "frank discussion" with the stern and serious Liberals, one must at least wonder where Minister Bermúdez' optimism might be coming from?

"There is a willingness to support the Canada-Colombia FTA," says Foreign Minister Bermúdez.

During his visit to Ottawa, Minister Jaime Bermúdez had meetings with members of Canada's House of Commons, where on May 25, the trade agreement between Canada and Colombia entered second reading (the second legislative debate).

Ottawa, Canada, 29 May (PS). Foreign Minister Jaime Bermúdez assured on Friday that, after his visit to Canada, he found a willingness among members of the government and the opposition to support the Free Trade Agreement signed with Colombia.

"Here, we've found unconditional support from the government of Prime Minister Harper. We've found a Liberal Pary that is, let's say, the principal opposition party, with a desire to support the agreement but with a few worries in a few areas," said Minister Bermúdez.

He added that in dialogue with the principal leaders of Canada's Liberal Party there was "interest to listen, interest to hear the arguments and interest to move forward on the matter, but this dialogue must continue. The truth is that the agenda has been quite intense," the Minister concluded.

During his trip, Minister Jaime Bermúdez had meetings with members of Canada's House of Commons, where on May 25, the trade agreement between Canada and Colombia entered second reading (the second legislative debate). The Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement was signed on November 21 of last year during the Asia-Pacific Summit held in Lima (Peru).

He also met with the leader of the official opposition and leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Michael Ignatieff, who was accompanied by the main spokesperson of the Liberal Party in the Standing Committee on International Trade.

The position of the Liberal Party on the agreement is fundamental for its ratification. The Foreign Minister had the opportunity of meeting with the Liberal leader and also with members of the Liberal Party Caucus, communicating the advances in human rights, labour and trade issues, and in general about the advantages that the agreement offers for bilateral relations.

The agenda was complemented by a high level meeting that included Foreign Minister Bermúdez and his Canadian counterpart, Lawrence Cannon, as well as Peter Kent, Minister of State for the Americas. The meeting was a intended as an opportunity to reflect and engage in an open, frank and consistent dialogue about the current and prospective possibility for ratification of the Free Trade Agreement.

The sessions ended with two meetings with the media: the Toronto Star and Embassy Magazine.

On his trip, the Foreign Minister was accompanied by the Vice-Minister of International Trade, Gabriel Duque, and the head of the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Unit of the Attorney General, Sandra Castro, both of whom backed up the necessary arguments in order to put a positive focus on the Colombian reality.

The Embassy of Colombia in Canada will be in charge of channeling information to the Canadian parliament as required in order to push for the ratification of the Agreement.

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