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.

ONLY WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR: Colombian rights activist turned away from Trade Committee at the last minute


MAY 29, 2009


Marston arranges for testimony in alternate committee

OTTAWA – New Democrat Human Rights Critic Wayne Marston had to facilitate the testimony of renowned human rights activist Yessika Hoya Morales after she was turned away from the International Trade Committee, even though its membership had indicated it was interested in hearing her speak.

Ms. Morales, was set to testify regarding the human rights situation in her home country, Colombia. She is in Canada as part of a working group to block the passage of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Marston managed to facilitate her appearance before the Sub-committee on International Human Rights instead.

“It’s open season on human rights activists and trade unionists in Colombia,” said Marston. “Proponents of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement obviously don’t want the committee to hear the reality of its human rights implications,” he added.

Ms. Morales is a recent nominee for the Meany-Kirkland Award for excellence in the field of human rights. Her father, Jorge Dario Hoyos, was assassinated in 2001 by a right wing paramilitary group with links to the Columbian government.

“I am ashamed that the Committee on International Trade refused to hear Ms. Morales after she was led to believe that she would be able to testify,” said New Democrat International Trade Critic Peter Julian. “Her revelations as an eye witness to the continuing abuses in Colombia by the Uribe regime only reinforces our opposition to the most egregious piece of trade legislation that has been tabled in this Parliament.”


For more information please call:

Tom Allen, Office of Wayne Marston, 613-219-0076

Carole Saab, Press Secretary, 613-222-5997



LE 28 MAI 2009


Wayne Marston lui obtient un témoignage devant un autre comité

OTTAWA – Le porte‑parole du NPD en matière de droits de la personne, M. Wayne Marston, a dû prendre des dispositions de dernière minute pour permettre le témoignage de Yessika Hoya Morales, militante renommée des droits de la personne, après que le Comité du commerce international ait refusé de la laisser comparaître. Le Comité du commerce avait auparavant indiqué qu’il souhaitait entendre le témoignage de Mme Morales.

Mme Morales était censée livrer un témoignage sur l’état des droits de la personne dans son pays d’origine, la Colombie. Elle se trouve actuellement au Canada dans le cadre d’un groupe de travail visant à empêcher l’adoption de l’Accord de libre-échange entre le Canada et la Colombie.

« Les militants des droits de la personne et les syndicalistes font l’objet d’une campagne d’élimination en Colombie », a déclaré M. Marston. « De toute évidence, les partisans de l’accord de libre-échange Canada-Colombie ne veulent pas entendre les implications que cette entente aura sur les droits de la personne », ajoute-t-il.

Mme Morales a récemment été mise en candidature pour le prix Meany-Kirkland pour l’excellence dans le domaine des droits de la personne. Son père, Jorge Dario Hoyos, a été assassiné en 2001 par un groupe paramilitaire de droite qui entretient des liens avec le gouvernement de la Colombie.

« J’ai honte que le Comité permanent du commerce international ait refusé d’entendre le témoignage de Mme Morales après lui avoir laissé croire qu’elle pourrait s’exprimer », a pour sa part indiqué le porte‑parole du NPD en matière de commerce international, M. Peter Julian « Les révélations qu’elle a faites à titre de témoin des abus qui sont commis par le régime du président Uribe ne font que renforcer notre opposition à l’égard de mesure législative commerciale la plus inacceptable jamais proposée au Parlement du Canada ».


Pour plus de renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec :

Tom Allen, Bureau de Wayne Marston, 613-219-0076

Carole Saab, Attachée de presse, 613-222-5997

Align Right

May 28, 2009

Canada-Colombia FTA removed from legislative agenda: Canada steps towards dignity

May 27, 2009
A joint statement from the La Chiva Collective, Pueblos en Camino, and Mingas-FTA

Public pressure has forced a victory in the fight to stop the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA). Sources from Canada’s three opposition parties have confirmed that the ruling Conservative Party has removed Bill C-23, implementing legislation for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, from the government’s current legislative agenda.

The CCFTA has not been defeated: at this time, it appears to lack the political support needed to be rushed through the Canadian parliament as proponents had intended. With the high level of controversy and public doubt surrounding the motives and consequences of the CCFTA, it may not re-enter parliamentary debate until the Fall of 2009.

What this means is not that the struggle against the CCFTA is over but that Canadians are having their say and getting in the way of Prime Minister Harper’s reckless trade agenda.

As a result of a negative public reaction to the deal, the Liberal Party of Canada, which had made statements in favour of the controversial agreement, has become internally divided on the issue, with many members now insisting on an Independent Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) before Bill C-23 were to be ratified in the Canadian parliament.

Recognizing the Liberals’ reluctance on this issue, the minority Conservative government appears to have gotten ‘cold feet’ in extending their support for a regime that inflicts daily terror on its own people with impunity and affirming a deal that would 'make a bad situation worse' in Colombia.

An immense effort has been building from diverse sectors across North America and Colombia over the past several weeks. With countless letters and phone calls to Liberal MPs, participation in numerous rallies across the country, and the signing of petitions urging a halt to the CCFTA, the Canadian public has found its voice. This has been complemented with a strong and effective lobby effort by labour, human rights and citizens' advocacy organizations and numerous opposition parliamentarians who have strongly opposed this bill. It is clear that many Canadians are trying to move towards their country having a more dignified role in the world.

These Canadians are saying they stand up for human rights and oppose the kind of economic model represented by agreements like the CCFTA, which serve to protect the rights of transnational corporations and disregard the rights of communities, workers and average citizens. It is not trade that is opposed, but this particular brand of so-called ‘free trade’ that continues to be negotiated behind closed doors, imposed in the interests of a few and caused the ruin of our communities and economies.

Canadians have stood beside their Colombian counterparts because this so-called ‘free trade’ is damaging to all of us, even if there were no human rights abuses in Colombia.

This is a bad deal for Colombia and for Canada, but it is also an opportunity to stop being taken in the wrong direction and to make our own decisions based on what is good for us, our communities and our environment, rather than letting those who work for profit and greed continue to decide against us.

The Conservatives pulled this legislation off the table because they value their political survival more than the CCFTA. Many are also watching policy developments in the United States on this and other trade-related issues. Still, the CCFTA remains a danger, and Canadians must continue to be vigilant. No politicians, certainly not the Conservatives or Liberals, will do the right thing without pressure, and the government may yet try to get it passed under the table.

We must not now turn to silence.

On June 8, President Uribe is coming to Montreal. The Harper Government is more than willing to turn Canadian dignity into shame, and the Liberals have made statements in favour of the government’s interests. We stand with the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, who have listened to the people. We will continue to say:

NO to Uribe’s presence in Canada!

NO to an FTA with the criminal regime!

YES to building relations of the peoples based on solidarity and dignity!

La Chiva:
Pueblos en Camino:

May 22, 2009

Shame or Dignity: Canadians must act NOW to stop the CCFTA!

Hello friends,

We have learned that Canadian parliament will debate Bill C-23, implementing legislation for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, this coming Monday, May 25. The Liberal Party of Canada, and its new leader, Michael Ignatieff, have expressed their support for the Harper Conservatives on this issue and are on the verge of making a serious mistake.

To convince you to act now, we are including here the words of a close friend, an excerpt from a letter to US Senator John Kerry, published on ZNet:

A "new direction" for the Foreign Policy of your country would entail engaging in a common global effort to transform what there is into what is needed. New winds are sweeping through the Americas. In peace, the poorest and most impoverished are proposing and weaving new ways, from recovered territories to new social relations into a new economy where wealth generation is at the service of life and justice. We invite you to listen, to talk to those weaving these new ways and, in the meantime, to stop the FTA with Colombia, to stop funding those who use terror and propaganda against their people and to help us resist war, wherever it may come from.

In Canada, there is also hope for meaningful change and a desire to join with the peoples of the hemisphere in constructing different economies and ways of living with each other. The first step is to oppose what is being imposed and entrenched right now.

Please, tell Mr. Ignatieff that, if he seeks to represent change, his party must unconditionally oppose the the FTA with Colombia.

We are providing below a thorough sample letter with ample documentation for you to forward to Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberal Party MPs. Modify it as you wish. We also include email addresses for your convenience. Please join us in this important moment.

Canada is once again being pushed to decide whether it will defend or condemn a regime responsible for untold terror against its own people. History will be the judge.

Thank you,
La Chiva

Sample Letter

Dear Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberal Party,

I am shocked and dismayed to hear that Michael Ignatieff and your Liberal Party have pledged to support the Harper Conservatives in pushing through parliament Bill C-23, implementing legislation for the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA), in spite of widespread popular opposition to the deal in both countries.

In a public response to critics, Mr. Ignatieff claims that "respect for human rights has improved under President Uribe" and that "engaging Colombia through free trade will give Canada more leverage to influence the Colombian Government in the area of human rights".

This position is neither based in fact nor in line with any serious observer of the situation in Colombia. Having studied the FTA with Colombia, Canada's own parliamentary committee recommended that the deal not proceed in its current form, a recommendation supported by your party at that time because of the Conservative Party's outright disregard for the work of the committee. Why the change of heart?

I urge you to reconsider this position and act now to stop the ratification of Bill C-23 because:
  • Contrary to Liberal Party statements on the subject, respected human rights organizations continue to denounce the daily horrors in Colombia. Mr. Ignatieff, by supporting the ratification of this agreement, you are willfully ignoring Colombia's reality. Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe continues to accuse human rights defenders as supporters of terrorists. Internationally respected observers such as Human Rights Watch, contrary to Liberal Party claims, have frequently condemned the human rights situation in Colombia and even warned against free trade agreements with the government. The Colombian army has been involved in uncountable atrocities, murdering thousands of civilians and displacing millions. Even members of President Uribe's close inner circle have colluded with paramilitary death squads, a scandal known in Colombia as 'parapolitica'.
  • Countries aware of these facts are revoking their support of the Colombian regime. Recently, the UK has ended military aid to Colombia because of the systematic crimes committed against the Colombian people. This comes as the horrors of 'false positives' has come to international attention, a practice of the Colombian army involving the dressing up of thousands of murdered civilians as guerrillas in the government's rush to show 'results' in the country's conflict. Is the 'bodycount mentality' of the Colombian army something Canadians would support?
  • The Harper government is leading the rush to defend Uribe's horrific regime. This flies in the face of Canada's international reputation. But it is even more puzzling why the leader of the official opposition is also offering the regime unconditional support in spite of having been made aware of the facts through countless rallies (in Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa), petitions, letters and phone calls involving thousands of individuals, civil society groups and labour and human rights organizations from Canada, Colombia and around the world. This CCFTA represents a serious contradiction in Canada's stance on the world stage: while the Chinese and Burmese regimes are condemned, the Colombian regime is given a political blessing? This obviously makes no sense to Canadians.
  • There are no precedents for Canadian investment improving human rights in Colombia. In fact, increased corporate access to Colombia's resources have resulted in the increased financing of actors in the conflict, massive displacement and disarray for the poor in many cases; a recent study by a well-respected Colombian organization shows that forced displacement has increased by 24.47% in 2008. That's 412,553 people displaced in one year! Their land is then made available to foreign investors. This is not a road to economic prosperity. The CCFTA is poised to expand this kind of economic havoc.
There is a sense that Canadians will soon be asked to choose who will represent them in government. Thousands of Canadians have expressed their opposition to this agreement. I encourage you to show Canadians how the Liberal Party might represent a real alternative to the Harper Conservatives by standing up for human rights in Colombia and the interests of average Canadians and opposing this deal pushed by a few corporations and an illegitimate government that systematically murders its own people.

Canada's complicity in atrocities in Colombia can and must be stopped. The Liberal Party's stance on the CCFTA is "for the record," and how history will judge Mr. Uribe will be the same as how it will judge those who stand by him.

I hope you keep this in mind as you debate Bill C-23 this Monday.

Thank you,

[Your City]

TO: Michael Ignatieff, Liberal Party Leader:

CC: Members of the Standing Committee on International Trade (CIIT): John Cannis, Scot Brison, and Mario Silva,,

BCC: All Liberal MPs:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;


May 16, 2009

Rally supports Colombian trade unionists, opposes trade deal

Written by Samantha Bayard, Straight Goods News

May 6, 2009

Union leaders and MPs say Canadians will have to compete against people who face death if they try to improve working conditions.

Hassan Yussuff of the CLC explains the dire consquences Colombian workers face if they form unions.

Ottawa, May 6, 2009 — A Parliament Hill demonstration today protested the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which is being fast-tracked for ratification by the Harper Conservatives. Trade unionists in Canada are upset that Canada is signing a labour deal with Colombia, where serious violations of human rights such as the assassinations of union leaders and widespread repression of indigenous movements have taken place.

Representatives from the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP spoke against the ratification as well.

Hassan Yussuff, Secretary-Treasurer for the Canadian Labour Congress said "It is fitting that we should come to Parliament Hill with this message because it is in this house where a decision could be made, to say no, we are not going to support the Colombian Free Trade [Agreement] or, on the opposite side, [where] if the Conservatives should have their way, with the support of the Liberals, there will be ratification to the Colombian Free Trade Agreement."

He continued, "This [Colombian] government, the previous government and the para-militaries continue to murder trade union[ist]s with impunity, without any regard for human life,"

Millions of Colombians, he said, have been displaced, and thousands have died in order to exploit the country's mineral wealth.

Yussuff condemned Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff for supporting the government's deal. "How is it possible that a leader who … prides himself on an understanding of human rights can support an agreement that would perpetuate repressing human rights in another country? This is simply unacceptable."

The protesters want to prolong Parliamentary debate on the legislation and convince the Liberals to vote against the ratification. They say the deal must be rejected to assure a better quality of life for Colombians and to ensure Canadian workers will not have to compete against workers who must accept terrible employment standards and who face persecution and even death if they complain about their working conditions or form unions.

Posted: May 12, 2009

Harper Index ( is a project of the Golden Lake Institute and the online publication

May 14, 2009

ITUC: Assassinations continue in Colombia

Written by International Trade Union Confederation

Brussels, 12 May 2009 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has strongly condemned and denounced the murders in April and May of five trade union activists dedicated to improving the lot of workers in Colombia.

The national, regional and international trade union movements have joined with the three Colombian union confederations, CUT, CGT and CTC, in their unwavering condemnation of the relentless attacks on the Colombian trade union movement, committed in blatant violation of the core ILO Conventions ratified by Colombia. These attacks take the form of intimidation, persecution and threats along with continuous murder of trade union members and leaders for simply trying to defend workers' rights.

These five deadly crimes against the trade union movement take the number of trade unionists assassinated in 2009 to seventeen. Over the last decade, Colombia has seen the murder of 2711 trade union leaders and activists in total. These assassinations seriously call into question the numerous claims by members of the Colombian administration that the violence, murders and stigmatisation suffered by the trade union movement are declining.

In a letter to the Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe,, the ITUC called on the Colombian authorities to carry out urgent and conclusive investigations to bring those responsible to justice, and thus break the chain of impunity characterising the murders of trade unionists.

"The ITUC will send the relevant information to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association within the framework of Case no. 1787," said Guy Ryder, general secretary of the ITUC. "Real justice is urgently needed in Colombia!"

The ITUC represents 170 million workers in 312 affiliated national organisations from 157 countries.

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018.

May 13, 2009

'Free trade' with Colombia? Not in our name!

Written by La Chiva Collective, Canada
13 May 2009

Actions against the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) have increased over recent weeks. We provide a bulletin summary of some recent news below.

* As horrific news floods in on the multinational banana industry and the Colombian government's collusion with paramilitary death squads, Britain is diverting its funding of the Colombian military.

* Canada's Liberal Party stands by the Conservative government in its unwavering support of the Colombian regime.

* Analyses of the Canada-Colombia FTA and its implications continue.

* Mobilizations continue across Canada against the government's intent to lend political support to the Colombian government.

Britain backs off as more horrors emerge

As proponents of the FTAs with Colombia scramble to push their arguments into the media spotlight, the real situation in Colombia is becoming ever clearer.

The impact of multinational companies operating in Colombia is an issue in US courts once again. Following in the footsteps of Chiquita banana, Dole Food Co. is now facing a wrongful death suit claiming it made regular payments to paramilitary death squads. The Associated Press reports, at least three former paramilitary commanders also claim Dole provided 40 percent of their operating budget in Colombia's northern Banana region.

In related news, just this week, more than 17,000 banana workers have gone on strike for better pay and working conditions. In addition to these demands, the workers want the creation of a fund to pay reparations to relatives of the victims of violence. More than 800 farm workers have been murdered over the past 13 years in Colombia's Banana region.

At the end of last month, one of Colombia's most infamous drug lords and paramilitary commanders, Diego Murillo, alias 'Don Berna', said that he and his illegal paramilitary army 'funded' the 2002 presidential campaign of the current Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe Velez.

In the UK, the Guardian and the BBC report, the British government has now diverted part of its aid away from the Colombian army. Alan Campbell, of the UK’s Home Office, explained that the decision was based on the systematic occurrence of ‘false positives,’ where the Colombian army has been proven to have murdered civilians and later dressed them up as guerrilla fighters in order to ‘gain points’ and improve the government's numbers in its war with the guerrillas.

No one is safe. Colombian paper El Espectador reports, the UK Law Society has released the results of a study involving more than 70 international lawyers who have been investigating the situation faced by Colombia’s judicial system. The study found that more than 400 Colombian law practitioners have been murdered with impunity since 1991.

Sara Chandler, of the UK Law Society, says “during our visit [to Colombia], a lawyer was murdered in one of the regions where we were investigating.” In just February and March of this year, Chandler adds, “two lawyers have been forced into exile after having received death threats.”

The Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination, a network of Colombian human-rights groups, issued a report alleging that 535 civilians had been killed by Colombia’s security forces between January 2007 and June 2008, an average of about one per day. This comes even as the Colombian government has been under intense international scrutiny due to its several impending trade pacts.

Canada's Liberals and Conservatives standing by their man in Bogotá

On the eve of a demonstration organized by civil society groups against the Canada-Colombia FTA at the Liberal Party Convention in Vancouver, Liberal Party trade critic, Scott Brison, told Canwest news, "[Liberal leader] Michael Ignatieff understands human rights issues extremely well.”

Brison scoffed at the demands of thousands of Canadians that the Liberals should join the NDP and Bloc Quebecois parties in stopping the agreement, arguing, “it’s easier to engage a country on human rights issues when you’re engaged on economic issues.”

The Liberals, currently the leading opposition party in Canada, appear willing to gloss over the glaring contradictions presented by condemning (and not 'engaging') some human rights violating regimes (like China, Sudan and Burma) and defending ('engaging') others, like Colombia, where Canadian companies stand to benefit from increased access to markets, resources and cheap, disposable and unorganized labour.

Stopping the CCFTA: civil society is moving

Many Canadians, together with allies in the United States, Europe and Colombia, are working to point out the complicity of the Canadian government in atrocities in Colombia should it continue its political support of the regime there. Opposition to the Liberal-Conservative stance is coalescing.

MINGAS-FTA, a transnational coalition of activists, academics and organizations working against the ‘free trade’ model, sent to several Liberal Party MPs a letter signed by nearly 500 individuals and organizations urging Canadian parliamentarians to not absolve the crimes of the Uribe regime in Colombia. The letter and online petition are making waves. “What the Liberals do on this issue will define their new leader’s vision for Canada,” stated a member of MINGAS-FTA in a press release.

The Council of Canadians released another letter signed by prominent Canadians and organizations directed at Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff. The letter urged Ignatieff and the Liberals to "put human rights before trade." This letter has been extremely effective in getting the Canadian mainstream media's attention on this issue.

Make Poverty History is also now calling on the Liberals to stop the CCFTA.

On workers’ day, May 1, groups from civil society and the labour movement held a demonstration outside the Liberal Party Convention in Vancouver. With a crowd roughly 200 strong, participants called on the Liberals to show how they differ from the Conservatives, to tell them that Canada must not be made complicit in the crimes of the Colombian regime, and to show that Canadians are becoming aware of Canada's precarious role in Latin America. A video of the demonstration produced by the La Chiva Collective is available online.

At the Vancouver demonstration, several prominent Liberals MPs were challenged on the Canada-Colombia FTA and their knowledge of the situation in Colombia. Liberal delegates were generally receptive and appalled when made aware of the situation their party is planning to support. It is unknown whether that sentiment will resonate among Liberal Party leadership.

Save for an article in the Ottawa Xpress, the Vancouver demonstration went virtually ignored by the mainstream press, though a few independent media outlets have provided coverage, most notably The Vancouver Media Co-op, Rabble, Fairchild TV and CKUW at the University of Winnipeg.

On May 6, activists gathered outside the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa to express their opposition to the CCFTA. Photos of that event are available here.

Analyses continue on Canada’s ‘ridiculous’ position

When challenged on the contraditions of standing up for human rights and making trade deals with repressive regimes, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called putting human rights before trade a "ridiculous" position. Canadians join Colombia analysts in rejecting the attitude of the Harper Conservatives and their Liberal supporters.

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs has published a comprehensive analysis on the Canada-Colombia FTA. That article argues that the deal represents a lose-lose situation for both Canadians and Colombians. It notes Canada's meagre trade relations with Colombia (just 0.13 percent of its international trade total), the degree of fierce opposition to the CCFTA in both countries, and the ineffectual nature of the Labour and Environmental side agreements. The piece also outlines the secrecy of the negotiations and those who stand to benefit from the CCFTA.

In an interview with Stefan Christoff in The Dominion, Laura Carlsen, director of the International Relations Centre's Americas Program, outlines the key reasons why agreements based on the 'free trade' model of NAFTA (of which the Canada-Colombia FTA is a carbon-copy) do not benefit average people in the partner countries but actually accentuate inequalities and socio-economic strife.

At a conference at Simon Fraser University in April, Colombian activist Manuel Rozental discussed the perils of the Canada-Colombia FTA and called on Canadians to take this issue on as one that has important impacts on their own well-being. A portion of this talk was recorded by Redeye in Vancouver and reposted here by