Voices: Under fire

Canadian asbestos production ceases, but debate rages on over the industry’s future.

(Photo: Ashley Cooper/GHG/Getstock)

“After 130 years, asbestos mining in Canada was halted [last] month when both of Quebec’s mines suspended operations….The Lac d’Amiante du Canada operation in Thetford Mines suspended its operations because it was having operational obstacles accessing the mineral. In the town of Asbestos, the Jeffrey Mine needs a bank-loan guarantee from the Quebec government before it can start digging a new mine.”
Sarah Schmidt
Postmedia News

“Jeffrey Mine president ­Bernard Coulombe insists neither his mine nor the one in Thetford Mines is closed. Both are selling small amounts of asbestos from their inventories.”
Community Team

“Canadian asbestos represented 85% of world production in the early 1900s….The resource was so valuable that the U.S. military drew up plans in the 1930s to enter Quebec and defend the mines if Canada ever fell under German control….Canada produced about 5% of the world supply in 2010.”
Andy Blatchford
The Canadian Press

“The current policy of the World Health Organization does not support a chrysotile ban. [It] adopted a resolution in May 2007 setting a ‘Global Plan of Action on Worker’s Health 2008–2017’ which can be construed as an admission that the elimination of asbestos-related diseases is achievable through the controlled use of chrysotile.”
unsigned editorial
November 2011 newsletter from the Chrysotile Institute

“All forms of asbestos are carcinogenic to humans, and may cause mesothelioma and cancer of the lung, larynx and ovary. Asbestos exposure is also responsible for other diseases, such as asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs), pleural plaques, thickening
and effusions.”
Fact Sheet No. 343
World Health Organization

“Four days before [my mother] died, I recorded a plea where she asked that the ­exportation of asbestos to Third World countries stop because nobody—nobody—should die the way she was dying.”
Heidi Von Palleske
“asbestos orphan,” at a November Parliament Hill protest

“It can only be used in Canada under the most carefully supervised and rigorous standards. Countries such as India who among others buy 95% of [asbestos produced in Canada] do not observe such safety standards.”
W. Hunter
letter, Comox Valley Record

“Chrysotile asbestos can be handled in a safe manner. The question is: is it?”
Mark Warawa
Conservative MP

“No more corporate welfare for corporate serial killers. Ban asbestos now.”
Pat Martin, NDP MP