Stop Canada-Colombia Free Trade

Stop Canada-Colombia Free Trade

The movement in opposition to the Canada-Colombia FTA has been growing across Canada, Colombia and the United States. The pressure from unions and civil society to halt the passage of Bill C-23 (the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement) in Canadian parliament has served to divide opinions within the Liberal Party and, for the time being, remove this debate from the parliamentary agenda.

If the Canadian government choose to ratify the proposed free trade deal with Colombia, Canada will remove any leverage or influence it might have to help improve the country's terrible human rights record.

Unionized workers in Colombia have born the brunt of a violent government regime, making Colombia the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist. Thousands of unionists have been targeted and murdered in Colombia over the past decades. Despite efforts from the international community to bring attention to these horrific crimes, the trend continues today. Worse yet, few are charged or held accountable for these actions.

The Harper government has a moral responsibility to ensure international human rights laws are enforced in all countries, especially those with whom Canada has a trading relationship. Canada must stand up for human rights, not sit idly by while they are trampled.

Send Stephen Harper a message! Add your name to the growing list of Canadians demanding full human rights assessments before any trade deals are signed.

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The Message:

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists and it is the worst human rights violator of the Americas. The Uribe government has one of the worst human rights records in the world. Under the government of President Alvaro Uribe, the Colombian people are living in a constant state of poverty and fear.

In the last 25 years 2,685 trade unionists have been assassinated. In 2008, under the current leadership of President Uribe 47 people have been assassinated , 157 threatened, 17 arbitrarily detained, 13 taken hostage and 4 disappeared. To date in 2009 the number of trade unionists assassinated is 34!

Under Uribe’s watch, an estimated 5 million Colombians have been forcibly displaced through land seizures, trade unionists and civil society activists risk death simply for advocating basic labour rights.

Do you believe that this is acceptable business as usual? I don’t. I agree with and am encouraged by the opposition parties who prefer to hold the Canada-Colombia free trade deal back until an independent human rights impact assessment is carried out and the resulting concerns addressed.

I am writing to implore you to withdraw Bill C23 and instead work with other governments internationally and the International Labour Organization to find ways to support verifiable improvements in the dismal record of human and labour rights violations by the Colombian government.

My hope is that you decide to do the right thing.


This message will be emailed to:
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper
  • Michael Ignatieff - Leader of the Opposition
  • Jack Layton - Leader of the NDP
  • Gilles Duceppe - Leader of the Bloc Quebecois