Tag: asbestos

Canada to stop asbestos mining and stop defending it.

Canada’s long and sorry saga of exporting death (asbestos) and defending it loudly and proudly in international fora is over and I needed to mark this happy day on the blog. The newly elected provincial government in Quebec, the Parti Quebecois have followed through on their campaign promise to finally end this small “industry” employing a few workers. Canada will no longer produce asbestos, or fight the listing of asbestos as a toxic substance.

It is going to take $50 million in government funds, a fraction of the cost of one fighter jet, to transition the workers away (if they get the money, not the mine owners). That’s it, why were we exporting death to India and other countries for this, I don’t know.

Canada’s many conservative and liberal governments fought hard for years to preserve the industry, using techniques lifted from tobacco propaganda, or today’s climate change challenges. I leave you with the ruling Canadian government’s response: Finely tuned to appeal to everyone who likes mesothelioma, cancer and death.

“Mrs. Marois’s decision to prohibit chrysotile mining in Quebec will have a negative impact on the future prosperity of the area,” (Industry Minister) Mr. Paradis said in a statement.

That about sums it up. But, it is a good day for public health, nevertheless.

Citing PQ pressure, Canada to cease defending asbestos mining – The Globe and Mail.

Featured image courtesy wikipedia used under a Creative Commons license (a micrograph of asbestos fibres causing lesions in the lung).

Health Canada report ties asbestos to lung cancer

Health Canada sat for more than a year on a report by a panel of international experts that concludes there is a “strong relationship” between lung cancer and chrysotile asbestos mined in Canada.

Health Canada received the report in March 2008, resisting calls from the panel chairman to release the findings despite his plea last fall that the delay was “an annoying piece of needless government secrecy.”

Canwest News Service obtained the report under Access to Information legislation, but the request took more than 10 months to process.

Vancouver Sun

Yes, dog bites man anywhere else except Canada, which has a hard time accepting that it routinely exports products that kill people. The “annoying piece of needless government secrecy” is neither needless or annoying. It protects a dying industry with a few, powerful stakeholders in Quebec, an important swing political province, so there’s need for it! Annoying – your seat “buddy” on the bus yammering on their cellphone, cancer, well, I don’t know, you tell me!

Expect little to change from this report. It does mention that there is little danger from “Canadian exposure levels”, conveniently forgetting that 90% of the export is to developing countries where there are fewer safeguards. This feeds into the Canadian government line that “chrysotile” is safe if used correctly. If you think this line of reasoning is familiar, it is. The tobacco industry used it routinely till recently.


Asbestos stays off global dangerous-substance list

NDP MP Pat Martin said Tuesday the Canadian delegation did not even participate in the discussions this year but got others to work on their behalf instead.

He accused the Canadians of browbeating developing nations such as India, Pakistan and Vietnam — some of Canada's largest chrysotile customers — into opposing its inclusion on the list.

"It's not a proud day for our country," said Martin, who attended the convention and spoke by telephone from Rome.

via Chrysotile asbestos stays off global dangerous-substance list

Canadians can now breathe easy. The government did not even have to oppose a notification officially, other countries did it for them.