An Open Letter to Hon. Keith Ashfield, MP for Fredericton
January 22, 2009
Dear Hon. Keith Ashfield,
We write to urge you to vote no to ratifying the Canadian-Colombian Free Trade Agreement.
Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists, with over 2,500 union leaders and human rights defenders murdered there in the past ten years.
The government of Colombia ignores and violates workers’ rights, and Colombian courts have found ties between high ranking government officials and the deadly paramilitary forces.
No trade agreements should be forged with Colombia until there is effective prosecution of killers of civilians and enforcement of minimum International Labour Organization standards on the rights of workers.
Prime Minister Harper made a very undemocratic move when he went ahead and signed an agreement with President Uribe of Colombia without waiting for the completion of a report prepared by a Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. The Committee’s recommendations included
requiring an independent assessment of human rights violations in Colombia before ratifying and implementing any trade agreement. Canada’s most important trading partner, the United States, has decided not to proceed because of widespread concern with U.S. Congress Democrats about the level
of violence, impunity and the role of the paramilitary in Colombia.
Canadians and Colombians need fair trade, not free trade agreements that undermine worker protections, the environment and human rights.
We urge you to take a stand for justice by voting no to the Canadian-Colombian Free Trade Agreement.
Tracy Glynn, Fredericton Peace Coalition
Cathy Holtmann, Development and Peace, Diocesan Council
Cindy Doucet, Development and Peace – Latin America International Development Committee
Tara Hurford, Development and Peace