Monday, June 14, 2010

Rights and Democracy, and the Canada-Colombia FTA

The Canada-Colombia how-much-for-the-little-girl? Free Trade Investment Agreement, aka Bill C2, will pass third reading later today just as Martha Hall Findlay begins to get the feeling back in her lower jaw.

Last fall, the parliamentary Trade Committee recommendations on C-23 as it was then known - including one for an independent human rights assessment before the deal passed - was considered vital to obtaining opposition support. This year the Libs don't much care for it, having jettisoned it in favour of Lib Scott Brison's preference for hearing about human rights abuses after they occur.

From 2007 through 2009, C-23 Recommendation #4 read:
"... that an independent, impartial, and comprehensive human rights impact assessment should be carried out by a competent body, which is subject to levels of independent scrutiny and validation; the recommendations of this assessment should be addressed before Canada considers signing, ratifying and implementing an agreement with Colombia."
And who was to do this human rights assessment?

"The Committee recommends that the Government of Canada draw on the work of the organization Rights and Democracy to give an independent body the mandate to conduct studies regarding the impact on rights and the environment when it is negotiating economic agreements with countries at risk, as in the case of the agreement with Colombia."
And look what happened to them.
They got a new chairman, a new president, four new board members, and a new mandate at the bottom of Steve's sock drawer.

What sort of work might R&D have recommended on a potential trade agreement with Colombia if they weren't in Steve's sock drawer?

R&D Feb. 1, 2007 :

"Colombian paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso’s recent admission that he facilitated the disappearance and killing of celebrated indigenous leader Kimy Pernia Domico, winner of Rights & Democracy’s 2003 John Humphrey Freedom Award, raises new concerns that justice for victims of human rights abuses will not be served by Colombia’s current demobilization process."
R&D goes on to note that Kimy Pernia Domico had come to Canada years before to give testimony to Members of Parliament about :

"the devastating effects of an internationally-funded hydroelectric dam on the Embera-Katio’s traditional lands and livelihoods, a project which received $18.2-million in funding from Export Development Canada."
And then they ask a lot of awkward questions.
Say, how did that work out?

Land and Life, a 2007 doc film from Kathy Price, former CBC foreign affairs producer :

"examines the devastating impact of a hydroelectric project on the Embera Katío Indigenous people and raises disturbing questions about a Canadian crown corporation that provided financing."
Was the gutting of Rights and Democracy only about protecting Israel from criticism?
Perhaps not entirely.
Perhaps Steve thought the addition of a few new board members last year would be all that was needed to facilitate some really enthusiastic reports on Colombia's remarkable progress in reducing poverty by 1% per year while simultaneously increasing the gap between rich and poor for the benefit of whichever oil or mining project we are funding there this week.

Of course that's Scott Brison's job now.

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