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Asbestos: Mr. Harper’s really scary promise

The Liberal party now clearly supports the overwhelming call from inside and outside our borders to ban the export of carcinogenic chrysotile asbestos from Canada. That leaves just two federal party leaders – Conservative PM Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Québecois – as the dinosaurs on this critical issue.

As the October 5th edition of the Toronto Star makes clear, Mr. Harper is going way out on a limb defending the Quebec asbestos industry. (Surely the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Canadian Medical Association don’t qualify as extremist groups, but judge for yourself.)

“The Conservative party is the only political party that can be trusted to defend the asbestos industry, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in Quebec’s asbestos mining region at the end of July.

By supporting a ban on asbestos, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is being “duped and manipulated by extremist groups,” Harper said. The other national parties are urban-focused, he continued, and don’t understand regional issues like asbestos.

His party will absolutely support the “safe controlled” export of chrysotile asbestos (the only kind of asbestos sold in the world today), Harper promised.

For more on the seemingly never-ending issue of asbestos – including the heartening Ottawa Citizen story about Mr. Harper’s two rebel backbencher, Two Tories defy party, call for asbestos ban, go to PCN’s Newsroom page (look under August). Another excellent analysis of the current state of asbestos affairs is offered by writer Murray Dobbin, who describes the major strides Canadian medical professionals, labour leaders and federal political parties (with two exceptions!) have taken over the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently reconfirmed that all commercial asbestos fibres, including chrysotile, cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, laryngeal and ovarian cancer.

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