By neatly avoiding the controversy that has temporarily stalled the Colombia-Canada FTA, Canadian mining companies in Peru now have the legal standing to challenge the few Peruvian laws standing between them and the 45 million hectares of the Amazon opened up to them by Peruvian President Alan Garcia.
Council of Canadians Stewart Trew : "About 50% of resource extraction in Peru is carried out by Canadian companies."
Earlier this month 30,000 indigenous protesters blocked roads, rivers and railways to force the repeal of Garcia's new laws opening up its oil, gas and forestry resources to foreign investors by privatizing community land plots and ignoring aboriginal rights to their land. A 10,000-acre African palm plantation to produce biofuels displaced the local inhabitants Garcia contemptuously referred to as "garden watchdogs". Garcia has also "framed privatization of the Amazon as a means of fighting drug traffickers".
Protests. Massacres. Police in helicopters gunning down Indians. 24 police killed on the ground. Accusations of the government burning the bodies of unknown numbers of protesters. Prime minister resigns, president apologizes. Score one for the Indians.
Ben Powless from Six Nations Ontario was there.
Minister of State for the Americas Peter Kent : "
"There were no Canadian companies involved or affected, so the linkage that folks might make shouldn't be made, because our free trade agreement and this tragedy don't have any obvious or visible connections."Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae :
"The killings and dispute were internal matters for Peru. This isn't about the free trade agreement, let's not confuse things here."UBC political science professor Maxwell Cameron :
"We're in exactly the same position as the U.S. [The US-Peru FTA was implemented this February] - that is that this agreement is designed to foster particularly Canadian investments, and Canadian investors are going to operate, and do operate in exactly this area and many other areas where there are conflicts. To have an agreement like this come out at the same time that there's a major massacre certainly no one would say that's good."Well, no one but Stockwell Day :
"These agreements will help increase prosperity, help provide better working conditions, and improve environmental management."
According to Export Development Canada, over 30 Canadian companies operate in Peru. Canadian companies expected to "increase prosperity, provide better working conditions, and improve environmental management" in Peru include Petrolifera, Teck Cominco, Barrick Gold, ScotiaBank, SNC Lavalin, Dessau Soprin and Sandwell.
This might be a good time to mention that Canada has not signed the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights.
Related : The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy