February 07, 2008

[Response] Words from the Opposition

After hearing quite a lot of arguments against a free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia (which is being secretly negotiated behind closed doors), I wrote a letter to the Liberal Party's Official Opposition Critic for International Trade, Navdeep Singh Bains, who was conducting a survey to see what Canadians had to say about the issue.

Unlike the Conservative parliamentary representative
for my riding, Rahim Jaffer, Navdeep actually responded to me. Further, Mr. Singh Bains had some criticism of the government's secret trade deals which demonstrate Canada's neglect human rights.

I am hoping that Mr. Singh Bain's comments are genuine, and not just the rhetoric of a sore opposition party who is willing to say anything to get elected. For this reason, I am posting the content of his response here... which clearly explains that the Liberal party is against a free trade negotiation with Colombia until the latter government can assure the human rights of all its citizens. Should the upcoming election bring a Liberal government to power, I hope I can take Mr. Singh Bains for his word:

This is what he had to say:

Thank you for your email regarding the proposed free trade deal with Colombia. The Liberal Party shares your concerns.

Mr. Harper has abandoned the long-standing Canadian approach of promoting mutually beneficial trade and economic relations with other countries while advancing the protection of human rights. The proposed Free Trade Agreement with Colombia is being negotiated without regard for concerns about alleged connections between the allies and relatives of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and paramilitary militias in a conflict with leftist insurgents.

On July 16, 2007, Mr. Harper said it would be “ridiculous” to address human rights and social issues prior to establishing trade relations. This position is incompatible with Canada’s humanitarian commitments.

A Liberal government will restore Canada’s long-standing approach to trade negotiations by communicating expectations on human rights in the promotion of trade and economic relations. In addition, the Liberal Party of Canada will continue to advocate for truly free trade while ensuring that the effects of any trade agreement will not work to the detriment of the citizens most in need of its benefits.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns.

Yours truly,

Hon. Navdeep Singh Bains, P.C, M.P.
Critic for International Trade

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