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| 3/31/2009 12:00:00 AM

Minister defends Colombia free-trade deal

Mar 31 -- Parliamentary hearings will allow criticism of Canada's proposed free trade agreement with Colombia, says the Harper government's minister responsible for Latin America.

But Peter Kent, the minister of state for foreign affairs, also made clear that he expects the deal to be ratified by Parliament by June, as he accused left-leaning critics of the deal of living in the past, and not giving Colombia credit for progress it has made after years of drug-fuelled carnage.

"We want this to be discussed openly," Kent said Monday from Medellin, Colombia. "Through the hearing process as well as submissions from beyond, we want to hear from folks, positive and negative, and to address concerns."
 
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