Global Affairs Canada responds to PBI-Canada on the human rights impacts of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: The Canadian Embassy in Bogota.

In March of this year, Peace Brigades International-Canada responded to the public call from Global Affairs Canada for comments for the Annual Report on Human Rights related to the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

We highlighted the “need to include Canadian investment in the fossil fuel industry in Colombia in this annual review, as well as to provide greater transparency on the trade in services and technology that supports this sector.”

We noted that Canadian oil and gas investments in Colombia totalled $8 billion in 2018 (the second largest location for Canadian energy assets abroad).

We also specified concerns about the Calgary-based companies Parex Resources in Santander and Gran Tierra in Putumayo.

We further noted community opposition to fracking and the risks being experienced by environmental defenders in Colombia. The Platero fracking pilot project is on an exploration block co-owned by Toronto-based Sintana Energy.

And we conveyed that we could not see how our input last year on the situation in Buenaventura was reflected in their previous report.

We had amplified the concerns of PBI accompanied organizations who have said that an increased trade in goods has human rights implications for this port city. We asked Global Affairs Canada to acknowledge the impacts of the port on the majority Afro-descendant/Black population of Buenaventura.

Response

Our submission stated: “We encourage you to reconsider the exclusion of investment provisions, especially with respect to fossil fuel and mining investment.”

On May 25, we received a one-page response that highlighted “the scope of this report does not include investments by private enterprises.”

Criticisms of the reports

In May 2014, then NDP trade critic Don Davies commented: “It’s a sham. Investment is a very big part of our trade with Colombia and to arbitrarily exclude that is another indicator that the government has no intention of producing a real report.”

By 2017, Amnesty International Canada withdrew from the annual process.

The 2021 report, when tabled in the House of Commons, will be posted here. We hold some hope that it will respond to our request for “details and analysis on the trade in products and services related the oil and gas industry in Colombia, including in mature fields and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).”

Our submission to Global Affairs Canada can be read in full here.

Letter from Global Affairs Canada.

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