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NEWS: Harper pushes mining at the Americas summit in Colombia

The CBC reports, “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has urged Latin American investors during a visit to Colombia to take a closer look at Canada’s mining industry in light of his government’s plans to streamline the regulatory process for major natural resource projects.”

“Harper told a forum of CEOs his government’s budget promise to speed up the regulatory process to develop major natural resource projects is a key reason they should invest.”

The Canadian Press adds, “The Prime Minister delivered remarks at a forum of CEOs taking place just before the official opening of the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of 33 leaders from across the region.”

“(Harper also) announced funding for a handful of initiatives in the Americas. A new ‘sustainable energy access’ project would devote $9.55 million over six years to improve energy planning, regulation and corporate social responsibility across the region.”

Canada’s extractive sector in Latin America In his blog posted this past Friday about the Summit of the Americas, Council of Canadians trade campaigner Stuart Trew writes, “The Americas Policy Group, a coalition of about 40 Canadian NGOs, labour unions, research institutions, church and solidarity groups, says, ‘(Canada) has also been widely criticized for the performance of its extractive sector, which has too often been linked to death, displacement and environmental damage in Latin America.'”

This issue will be the subject of our ‘Shout Out Against Mining Injustice, this June 1-2 in Vancouver, http://canadians.org/shoutout.

Additionally, Trew writes, “(Harper) will also meet with businesspeople when he travels to Chile on a bilateral visit.”

We have been engaged with Chile on the issues of Ontario Teachers Pension Plan ownership of private water utilities there, as well as possible Canadian pension plan involvement in the building of the transmission lines from the controversial Patagonia HidroAysen dams, which would in part power Canadian-owned copper mining operations there.

‘Trade’ deals in Latin America
And Trew highlights that Harper will have free trade on his agenda at the Summit of the Americas.

“The Harper government has ratified free trade deals with Colombia and Peru, signed deals with Honduras and Panama, and is moving the latter through the House of Commons, despite human rights, labour rights and environmental records in those countries. The federal government claimed at each step that providing ‘legitimate’ economic opportunities to Latin American countries through trade and investment pacts was the only way to help them to develop sustainably. It was all talk with little empirical evidence behind it.”

Trew’s blog can be read in full at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14588.

Please also note that Common Frontiers coordinator Raul Burbano is in Cartagena for the alternative People’s Summit and to monitor the Summit of the Americas, for his reports go to http://commonfrontiers.ca/Cartagena/.