Will the Canadian and Quebec governments continue to betray the people of Quebec on asbestos?

Wed, Mar 14, 2018


Kathleen Ruff, RightOnCanada.ca

A dramatic battle is unfolding between the the Canadian and the Quebec governments and the asbestos lobby.

For decades the Canadian and the Quebec governments betrayed the people of Quebec by hiding the clear scientific evidence that all asbestos is harmful. For decades both levels of government were in bed with and financed the asbestos lobby and allowed it to write Canada’s and Quebec’s laws on asbestos.

The question now facing both the Canadian and the Quebec governments is whether they will continue that betrayal

While the Quebec asbestos mines have closed down, hundred of millions of tons of asbestos mining wastes remain, containing up to 40% asbestos. Projects are underway by companies such as Mazarin Inc./Asbestos Corp. Ltée, who previously mined and sold asbestos, to extract magnesium from the asbestos mining wastes they left behind. In promoting these projects, the companies and the Quebec government have provided zero information on health standards that they would impose to address the issue of the asbestos fibres that would be stirred up into the air by moving and re-using the huge mountains of asbestos wastes.

There is a complete absence of transparency and accountability. The issue of the health impact on the workers and the nearby population has been silenced. No-one has been designated as responsible for protecting health.

Of particular concern is the fact that:

  • The asbestos mining wastes are surrounded by the towns of Asbestos and Thetford Mines, with schools, hospitals and homes close by the mountains of asbestos wastes.
  • Quebec’s current regulation on the levels of asbestos fibres that workers are allowed to be exposed to was written decades ago by the asbestos lobby and is criminally negligent. It permits Quebec workers to be exposed to 10 times more asbestos fibres than workers in the rest of Canada, the US, the European Union and other countries. It permits Quebec workers to be exposed to 100 times more asbestos fibres than workers in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
  • The projects to re-use the asbestos mining wastes are, it appears, only viable if the current defective occupational exposure regulation remains unchanged.
  • The reason the Quebec government is delaying taking action to change its delinquent occupational exposure regulation is, it appears, in order to allow the asbestos mining wastes projects to go ahead.
  • The Quebec government’s own National Public Health Institute has published a report documenting the Quebec government’s failure to protect the Quebec population from asbestos harm and specifically expressed concern over the asbestos wastes projects.
  • The Quebec government’s own Directors of Public Health, as well as Quebec’s leading health organisations and experts, have appealed to the premier of Quebec and the leaders of the other Quebec political parties to take immediate action to make Quebec’s occupational exposure regulation stricter. They expressed specific concern over the asbestos wastes projects.
  • The Canadian government is turning a blind eye to the situation by exempting the Quebec asbestos mining wastes projects from its proposed regulations to protect Canadians from asbestos harm.

Asbestos lobby attempting to weaken Canada’s planned asbestos ban

Meanwhile the asbestos lobby wants Quebec’s defective occupational exposure standards to continue and is promoting the asbestos mining wastes projects.

The International Chrysotile Association (ICA), based in Quebec, is funded by foreign vested interests, notably Russian and Kazakhstan asbestos mines. The ICA opposes and is seeking to weaken the Canadian government’s proposed regulations to ban asbestos. Recognizing that seeing a lobby group, totally funded by foreign interests, seek to influence the Canadian government’s asbestos policy does not smell good, the ICA is promoting a local lobby group in the asbestos mines region, the PROChrysotile Movement.

The PROChrysotile Movement was formed in Thetford Mines and Asbestos in 2000. It states that “the PROChrysotile movement aims to counter the “Ban Asbestos” negative propaganda and rehabilitate chrysotile. The valorization of serpentine mine tailings (Note: They are referring to the chrysotile asbestos mining wastes) is one of the Movement’s most important endeavor(s).” The PROChrysotile Movement claims that the asbestos industry is being subjected to “a very rabid crusade” by powerful, corrupt interests. They are referring apparently to Quebec’s health experts.

In a submission to the Canadian government, the PROChrysotile Movement asks the government to support the projects to extract magnesium from the Quebec asbestos mining wastes and asks the government to exempt from its regulations the sale or use of asbestos mining residues in landscaping or construction.

The PROChrysotile Movement has obtained the support of local politicians, town and municipal governments, local chambers of commerce and Mazarin Inc./Asbestos Corp. Ltée, which is involved in a mine tailings project. The President of the Quebec Steelworkers union (the largest private sector union in Quebec), Alain Croteau, has sent a letter to Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, with a copy to the PROChrysotile Movement, urging the Premier to intervene with the Canadian government to ensure that the federal government’s planned asbestos regulations do not impede the projects to exploit the Quebec asbestos mining residues. Croteau’s letter does not mention Quebec’s defective asbestos occupational exposure standard or the concerns expressed by Quebec’s health leaders.

The question now facing both the Quebec and the Canadian government is:

Will you continue to betray the people of Quebec?

Will you continue to allow the people of Quebec to be exposed to asbestos harm?

Are the lives of the people of Quebec less deserving of protection than the lives of other Canadians?


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