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e-2957 (Foreign affairs)

Initiated by Reykia Fik from Ottawa, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

  • Fires in the Amazon rainforest reached the highest level in a decade this year;
  • The adjacent Pantanal wetlands and Cerrado savanna have also had devastating fires and ecosystem destruction;
  • These fires are almost all deliberately set, mainly by land-grabbers and ranchers to clear land for cattle grazing and industrial agriculture;
  • Deforestation and fires have dramatically increased since Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro came to power;
  • His government has actively dismantled environmental regulations, enforcement, and Indigenous rights protections;
  • Indigenous Peoples in Brazil are experiencing especially high levels of violence, land appropriation and other human rights violations;
  • Deforestation in the Amazon is approaching a tipping point beyond which the rainforest may not recover;
  • The loss of this rainforest would adversely affect the security of all humankind; and
  • Canada is negotiating a trade deal that is projected to increase meat and soy imports from Brazil, and would legitimize the environmental and human rights violations of the Bolsonaro government.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of Foreign Affairs to :
1) Immediately terminate the Canada-Mercosur free trade deal negotiations; and
2) Make a public statement that the Bolsonaro government’s assault on the environment and human rights is unacceptable to Canada.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

The Government of Canada has observed with deep concern the wildfires taking place in South America, the Amazon and the Pantanal, recognizing that the health of forests in the region is of great importance to the well-being of the planet. The conversion of forests for the production of agricultural commodities remains the biggest driver of deforestation globally, including in the Amazon. The Brazilian forest fires in the context of agricultural development are deeply concerning to Canada.

Canadian officials maintain a sustained dialogue on climate change and the environment in their interactions with Brazilian authorities at all levels, as well as with civil society, the private sector and Indigenous peoples’ representatives in Brazil. The Government of Canada has expressed its concerns to the federal and state governments of Brazil on the wildfires and deforestation, including with Brazil`s Vice President, the Minister of the Environment, and the Foreign Ministry, and have communicated the Government of Canada and the international community’s expectations with regards to protecting and preserving the Amazon region.

Canada engages with Brazilian civil society to support initiatives aimed at raising awareness on the impact of climate change on Indigenous peoples and biodiversity in the Amazon Basin, and promoting the sustainable development of populations living in that area. In early November, a small group of ambassadors, including the Ambassador of Canada to Brazil, took part in a mission to the Amazon organized by the Brazilian government to see firsthand the effects of deforestation in the Amazon and Brazilian efforts to combat it. The visit included discussions on the enforcement of environmental protection measures and the impacts of illegal deforestation and mining. Canada’s Ambassador also met with civil society organizations active in the Amazon, as well as local Indigenous peoples, to hear their perspectives on the environmental and human rights situation, in order to give us a more objective understanding of current realities on the ground.  These views, independent of government, allow us to better advance and promote human rights in Brazil, particularly through local initiatives advancing the rights of women and girls, LGBTQ2, Indigenous peoples, refugees and migrants and impoverished communities. This includes emergency assistance to the Munduruku Indigenous peoples and Indigenous migrants from Venezuela in the Amazon region, and the provision of clean technology and the development of sanitary systems in Indigenous villages in the state of Mato Grosso.

The Government of Canada recognizes that Brazil is one of the main custodians of the Amazon rainforest and one of the world’s largest agricultural producers, making it a key player in cooperation on environmental protection and climate change. That is why Canada is also working closely with Brazil in regional and multilateral fora to promote sustainable development and implement international agreements that both countries have signed and ratified. These include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Government of Canada is committed to creating economic opportunities through initiatives such as free trade agreements (FTAs), so that more Canadians can engage in and benefit from trade, while at the same time advancing broader social, labour and environmental priorities both in Canada, and abroad. The Government of Canada is firmly committed to the principle that trade and environmental protection, and respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples, should be mutually supportive and therefore seeks to foster strong environmental governance in our trade relationships to contribute to the objective of worldwide sustainable development in all sectors.

In its negotiations toward a possible FTA with Mercosur, the Government of Canada is taking into account the views and concerns of Canadian stakeholders and partners, including Indigenous peoples, with respect to exports of agricultural products from Mercosur countries, in line with Canada’s inclusive approach to trade. While there have been no formal negotiations since July 2019, any future negotiations would continue to be guided by Canada’s commitment to seek an ambitious, comprehensive and enforceable environment chapter, including commitments relating to sustainable agriculture, to address Canada’s interests in this regard. This includes core commitments to maintain high levels of environmental protection and robust environmental governance as trade is liberalized, by ensuring that environmental laws are effectively enforced and that such laws are not weakened to attract trade and investment.

Enforceable and ambitious commitments on environmental issues could complement provisions that Canada would seek in the form of a dedicated chapter on Trade and Indigenous Peoples, the goal of which would be to enhance the ability of Indigenous peoples and businesses to benefit from the opportunities created by any future Canada-Mercosur FTA. Canada would also seek other provisions that are specific to Indigenous peoples in other chapters of the FTA, consistent with our inclusive approach to trade.

Open for signature
October 29, 2020, at 11:21 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
November 28, 2020, at 11:21 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Paul Manly (Nanaimo—Ladysmith)
December 7, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00369)
Government response tabled
January 25, 2021
Photo - Paul Manly
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia