Conservative Attempt to Silence Witnesses on Canada-Colombia Free Trade Must Be Rejected, Says the Council of Canadians

For Immediate Release

Council of Canadians

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685,

Conservative Attempt to Silence Witnesses on Canada-Colombia Free Trade Must Be Rejected, Says the Council of Canadians

OTTAWA - Three motions (below) by Conservative MP Gerald Keddy to stop hearing
from witnesses and rush through clause-by-clause consideration of the
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement must be rejected during an
in-camera meeting of the international trade committee on Thursday ,
says the Council of Canadians.

"The Conservatives and Liberals are clearly uncomfortable hearing
witness after witness state that Canada should not sign a free trade
agreement with Colombia without first ordering an independent assessment
of the deal on human rights," says Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with
the Council of Canadians. "It's an inconvenient truth about this deal
that it will likely make a bad situation worse in Colombia and do little
for the Canadian economy. Voting for Keddy's motions on Thursday would
be a transparent attempt to sweep that truth under the rug."

Mr. Keddy does a further injustice to democracy by proposing that MPs
only get five seconds to consider each clause in the Colombia agreement,
and the decision to move Thursday's meeting in-camera is also
surprising, and a sign perhaps that the Conservatives are feeling the
public pressure. The Council of Canadians has organized "Tweet-Ins" in
English and most recently in Spanish during the last three trade
committee meetings to give real-time updates on committee proceedings
and MP comments to people who cannot be there in person. The first
Tweet-In on May 11 reached tens of thousands of people and made the
Canada-Colombia free trade agreement the second most popular topic of
discussion on Twitter.

There is near unanimous support among Canadian labour, development,
ecumenical and social justice organizations that the Colombia free trade
deal should wait until a human rights impact assessment can be carried
out. A Liberal proposal from trade critic Scott Brison, which resulted
in an as yet unspecific amendment to the agreement requiring some form
of annual human rights reports post-ratification, is seen with
skepticism because of comments from Colombian trade officials that the
Colombian government would perform its own assessments.

"When the Liberals voted in the House of Commons last month to end
second reading debate on the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement,
sending it to committee, it was on the explicit condition that a
‘comprehensive' and ‘in depth' study be carried out of the agreement's
human rights implications," says Trew. "The only choice of all
opposition parties on Thursday is to reject Keddy's motions and to hear
from all remaining witnesses."



Notice of Motions - Gerald Keddy, MP
Date: May 25, 2010

Motion #1
That the Committee hear no more testimonies regarding its study of Bill
C-2 and that it conclude clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill on
Tuesday, June 1 2010; and that by no later than 5:30 p.m. of June 1st,
all remaining questions in relation to the clause-by-clause
consideration of the Bill be put to a vote without further debate.

Motion #2
That regarding the Committee's clause-by-clause consideration of Bill
C-2 each member will take no longer than 5 seconds to vote on each
clause and amendment; and if the 5 seconds limit is exceeded the member
will be deemed to have abstained.

Motion #3
That all proposed amendments to the bill must be tabled with the clerk
of the committee 24 hours in advance of the meeting in which the
proposed amendments will be moved; and that the chair of the committee,
at his discretion, be allowed to group similar amendments to be
considered at the same time.

Notice of Motion - Peter Julian, MP

That the Committee provide sufficient time during the committee's
scheduled meetings of May 27, June 1rst, June 3rd , June 8th and June
10th , to hear the testimony of the organizations and persons who have
written to the Committee to date, requesting to appear as witnesses at
the Bill C-2 hearings, which include, AFRODES (Charo Mina Rojas),
Justicia y Paz (Danilo Rueda), Dr. Penelope Simons (University of
Ottawa), National Union of Public and General Employees (James Clancy),
CLC (Sheila Katz), AFL-CIO (Jeff Vogt), National Indigenous Organization
of Colombia (ONIC - Luis Fernando Arias Secretary General), OPSEU
(Smokey Thomas & Yhony Munoz), Mingas-FTA (Natalia Fajardo), la
Chiva Collective (Manual Rozental), Gary Leech (Independent Journalist,
NS), NOMADESC (Berenice Celeyta), Union of the Ombudsman's office (Maria
Eva Villate, President, Human Rights Lawyer), Congressman Mike Michaud,
Escuela Nacional Sindical (ENS), National Indigenous Organization of
Colombia (ONIC),
Central Unitaria De Trahabadores de Colombia, CODHES (Jorge Rohas,
President) and that the committee close off hearings on Bill C-2 and
proceed to clause by clause review after having



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