Stephen Harper has been in the heart of asbestos country recently, attempting to win votes on the export of a highly toxic and dangerous substance banned throughout much of the industrialized world.
That Canada has a deadly double standard with regards to limiting our own use of a hazardous substance while exporting it to developing nations is immoral; attempting to generate votes from this deadly export is disgusting.
According to CTV News, Harper has been criticized for his continued support of Canada’s exporting of asbestos – a known carcinogen – to the Global South. As of 2006, Canada was the worlds fourth largest producer/exporter of asbestos behind Russia, China, and Kazakhstan, generating 10.3% of 2.3M tonnes produced.
Christian Simard, head of Nature Quebec, headed a 20-organization coalition in advocating against continued support for asbestos mining in Canada. “Public policy should be based on science, not on politics,” Simard said. “The science is indisputable that all forms of asbestos are deadly. Not a single reputable authority supports Harper’s policy that asbestos can be safely used.”
I am sympathetic to the argument that Harper is advocating for the continued support of a beleaguered part of the country that has fallen on hard times – what with the realization that the product they were mining was known to kill untold scores of human beings around the world. No one likes to see Canadian workers lose their jobs, and the untold hardships that this creates for thier families and loved ones can be devastating.
But I’m sorry – I have to return once again to Bill Maher’s “Fuck Your Jobs!” maxim when your job is to mine a known carcinogen that is severely restricted in the country of origin, and turn a profit off of exporting it to poorer countries where the people dying from asbestos exposure are likely a different skin colour and ‘class’ than you are.
Get a new job. One that doesn’t destroy the planet and kill people.
No excuse. It is deplorable that Canada continues to allow these exports to occur, let alone our continued efforts to convince other developing nations through the United Nations to avoid asbestos bans that would be hard on our bottom line, as we are doing in Chile. I would rail against any political leader of any stripe that attempts to defend something as hazardous and toxic as the oil sands, or asbestos mining, in the name of jobs. And laugh in your face when you tell me it’s ‘safe,’ or ‘ethical.’
Please. Just because you can make a buck doing something harmful doesn’t you should.