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Scott Brison lends a helping hand in Colombia free trade deal

Scott Brison isn't wasting a lot of time waiting for that congratulatory call from the Harper PMO although the Nova Scotia Liberal MP did give him a helping hand.

Mr. Brison played a role in the free trade deal between Colombia and Canada that Stephen Harper announced this week would come into force Monday.

The Prime Minister made the announcement Wednesday on his visit to Colombia as part of his Latin America trade tour.

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And Mr. Bison says it just goes to show that whether you're in government or opposition, an MP can still have an effect. He says you just need to work " creatively."

It was Mr. Brison's personal relationship with Colombia's former trade minister Luis Plata that led to the Liberal caucus last year supporting the Harper government's proposed trade deal with Colombia -- a deal that the Conservative minority government did not have support for, given Colombia's poor human rights record and history of violence.

Mr. Brison and Mr. Plata, however, were able to structure an amendment -- calling on the two countries to produce annual human rights reports -- that was acceptable to the Liberals, allowing them to support the government's initiative.

The deal passed through Parliament. It was the first free trade agreement to include a human rights assessment.

Mr. Brison said the Prime Minister was "bang on" in his defence of the FTA. "Through economic engagement Canada can help the Colombian people achieve peace and prosperity," said Mr. Brison.

The Grit MP, meanwhile, has kept up his ties with Colombia. He was there just two weeks ago speaking at the Canada-Colombia Chamber of Commerce breakfast and meeting with business people and politicians.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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