Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for this opportunity to stand in support of private member's bill, Bill C-331. I would like to thank the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby for his work on the bill. It is very important legislation.
Speaking from personal experience, as a Canadian, I have had experience travelling in Central America. In the nineties, I was in Guatemala. My younger brother was part of the Managua team with the United Nations. My parents and I were involved in a human rights accompaniment with trade union activists who were trying to organize maquilas, the factory workers in Guatemala, and also working with people who were taking forward human rights complaints.
I spent some time travelling around Central America. I had a Canadian flag on my back. I could see, in different places where I went in Nicaragua and El Salvador, there were Canadian flags on bridges that had been built with Canadian money. People thanked me for being Canadian, for being there, for our country and for the role we played after the civil wars in Central America.
In 2014, I went back to El Salvador to take part in a delegation on mining. I was doing research for a film on investor state dispute settlements and looking into the case of Pac Rim Cayman LLC v. Republic of El Salvador. In that case, five of the environmentalists who stood up against this mine that nobody in the country wanted, because it would destroy the watershed that provided water to 60% of the population, were murdered. People had to leave the country as refugees because of the thugs who were involved with the mining company.
I took part in a conference, with delegates from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. They all explained situations that were happening in their countries. They had photos and videos. I documented this conference and I put it up on my YouTube channel. However, the whole time I was hearing about how Canadian mining companies were involved in these projects in communities where they were unwanted. They ended up hiring thugs to intimidate local indigenous people and force them into accepting projects they did not want. They were destroying their communities, their local environment and their way of life. People were having to leave their homes under the threat of violence. People were being murdered, abused and sexually assaulted. To me, it was a very shameful experience. To know that we had companies abroad involved and engaged in these activities was very disheartening.
Therefore, I thank the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby for this work. This is a very important bill. People in these situations should be able to seek redress in this country, get justice and ensure that Canadian corporations abroad are responsible for the behaviour of the people they hire and work with in those countries.