Another Québec political leader calls for end of asbestos industry

Fri, Aug 10, 2012


Two years ago, every political party in the Québec National Assembly supported the asbestos industry. Today, yet another Québec political party took a stand against the mining of asbestos.

François Legault, leader of the new right-wing party, Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), stated that he believes that asbestos mining in Québec should stop. Legault said he believes that the numerous studies that have been published on the effects on human health from the use of asbestos are sufficiently convincing to believe in the real danger of this mineral. He therefore considers it preferable to discontinue the mining of asbestos. He noted that no bank would provide a loan to Jeffrey mine.

The left-wing political party, Québec Solidaire, was the first political party in Québec to call for an end to asbestos mining and for a plan of economic diversification assistance to be provided to the asbestos mining area. The Parti Québécois (PQ), the official opposition party, opposes the plan to finance the re-launch of the Québec asbestos industry, saying that the asbestos industry does not have a future and that government funding should go instead to create economic diversification in the area.

Québec is currently in the middle of an election campaign. The election will take place on September 4. At the moment the outcome is very unpredictable. The latest poll by Le Devoir shows the PQ with 32% support, the present governing Liberal Party of Jean Charest with 31% and the CAQ with 27%. Polls among French Québec voters give the PQ a majority government with the CAQ coming second. Charest’s support is particularly among English Québec voters. However, increasing evidence of an entrenched problem of extreme corruption in Québec may hurt his chances.

At the federal level also, the asbestos industry has seen its political support disappear. A few short years ago, all the political parties in the House of Commons supported the asbestos industry. Today, all the national political parties, except for Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative Party, have taken a position calling for an end of the asbestos industry.

Harper and Charest are now isolated in their support for asbestos. Charest may not win the Québec election. At the federal level, a small number of Conservative MPs have broken ranks with Harper and taken a stand against asbestos. If just a few more Conservative MPs could be persuaded to stop supporting asbestos, there would be a majority of MPs in the House of Commons to call for a ban on asbestos and economic diversification assistance to the town of Asbestos. See Campaign 15 MPs – Can You Help?

Kathleen Ruff, founder,

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