'No good purpose is served'

In Colombia yesterday, the Prime Minister attacked critics of free trade with the country.

“No good purpose is served in this country or in the United States by anybody who is standing in the way of the development of the prosperity of Colombia,” said Harper. “Colombia is a wonderful country with great possibility and great ambition. And we need to be encouraging that every step of the way. That’s why we have made this a priority to get this deal done. We can’t block the progress of a country like this for protectionist reasons.”

… Opposition to the trade deal has come from critics such as the federal NDP in Canada. Similarly, U.S. lawmakers have dragged their feet on approving a similar free-trade deal with Colombia, citing concerns over human rights. But Harper scoffed at those concerns, calling them a phony excuse. “I think there are protectionist forces in our country and in the United States that don’t care about development and prosperity in this part of the world. And that’s unfortunate.”

The free trade deal with Colombia was the subject of extensive debate in the House: see here, here, here, here, herehere and here.

When I was reporting this piece on the House of Commons, MPs were debating a deal with Panama. The discussion I sat in on then—including debate between Scott Brison and Peter Julian and later Joe Comartin and Brad Trost—dealt with many of the same points of contention.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.