Final Hour of Debate on Bill C-331

Context : Debate

Mr. Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues who spoke in favour of the bill. Obviously the bill has withstood the parliamentary scrutiny of the discussions and debates we have had over the two hours that have been accorded to it.

First, there have been a number of small technical issues, but they can be easily resolved through amendments. I want to make clear to all members, as I have in letters to every member of Parliament, that I am open to amendments and technical changes.

Second, we have heard from the government that this is not needed at all and that a bunch of people would apply. There is an obvious contraction there. If the bill is not needed, then victims will not come forward in the federal court. If victims come forward, it is because the bill is needed.

Just as we saw in the debate on the bill from the member for Scarborough—Guildwood about corporate responsibility, I suspect, after hearing the government members speak, that what is being heard here are the voices of corporate lobbyists. Corporate lobbyists are saying that no action should be taken on corporate responsibility. Corporate lobbyists are saying that victims should not be heard.

I would like to note in these final minutes of debate on this issue, before the important vote held next Wednesday, that other voices should be heard on the floor of the House of Commons when we cast our votes next Wednesday.

The voices that should be heard are those of the victims, like the victims of forced slave labour at Nevsun Resources in Eritrea. These people were forcibly conscripted, held as slaves and beaten. Their voices need to be heard on the floor of the House of Commons. They can only be heard by a “yes� vote on Bill C-331.

We should hear the voices of Adolfo Ich Chaman's family members. He was the activist who was shot and killed on the Hudbay Minerals property in Guatemala. There is also German Chub Choc, a local youth activist who was speaking out against mining operations. The voices of those in surviving families need to be heard on the floor of the House of commons.

We need to hear from the victims of the appalling sexual violence taking place in Papua New Guinea. This happened on the grounds of the Barrick Gold operations. Those voices, those victims need to be heard on the floor of the House of Commons.

There are the surviving members of the family of the Salvadoran environmental activist, who was found murdered at the bottom of a well, his finger nails pulled out. That family needs to be heard on the floor of the House of Commons.

These voices need to be heard, not those of corporate lobbyists. We should heard from the victims of these appalling human rights abuses taking place worldwide. In each of these cases, there can be no justice in those countries, because their judicial systems are corrupt and will not hear victims' pleas for justice.

Other voices need to be heard. There are the more than three million Canadians whose organizations have endorsed the bill and called on members of Parliament to vote yes on the bill next Wednesday. Those voices need to be heard, as well as the voices of Canadians across the length and breadth of the country.

Poll after poll has shown that the vast majority of Canadians believe in corporate responsibility, believe in justice and believe that Canada needs to be a voice in the world for human rights and justice. We can accomplish that by a yes vote next Wednesday.

Canadians have said very clearly that they want parliamentarians to vote yes on the bill. I would urge Canadians to contact their members of Parliament in the coming days. The vote is next Wednesday. Parliamentarians need to be called by their constituents, and their constituents need to tell them to vote yes on Bill C-331.

The victims' voices, the victims of appalling human rights abuses, of violence, of murder and of sexual abuse, all of them, are calling out today for members of Parliament to vote yes on Bill C-331. I hope that all members of Parliament will heed the call and vote yes next Wednesday.

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