Stop promoting asbestos, Mr. Quebec Premier

Posted 12.14.10

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | No asbestos, Mr. Premier! The energy our Quebec provincial government has recently put into promoting asbestos around the world is shameful. On only one account it is not, and that is the government's evident desire to help the communities where asbestos was once mined -- near the town of Asbestos.

Resource regions have been decimated by the bankers' recession, not only Asbestos. A day's drive from Aylmer will show abandoned sawmills, a closed paper mill, old mine shafts dotted everywhere, and farm land going fallow. Why isn't the government doing more here?

To promote the use of a product universally deemed toxic and a carcinogen is nothing but misguided good intentions at their worst. The argument that jobs are at stake should convince only fools.

Jobs are at stake everywhere and in all fields; that's normal for a market-driven economy. But the jobs argument is particularly foolish because the governments would never use this same argument in other job-creating industries. Take marijuana-growing as an example.

We don't even know how many jobs this multi-billion dollar industry sustains -- and which are undefended against America's War on Drugs>. If the government wants only to save jobs, go down to Washington and press to save grow-op jobs, Mr. Charest.

Why isn't this foolish ‘jobs’ argument applied to the escort industry, to forgery industries, or counterfeiting? All sorts criminal activities create jobs. We don't promote them even if jobs are all that counts.

It makes no sense to hide behind uncertain science, either -- that until every type of asbestos is conclusively proven to directly cause cancer it's OK to promote it.

Its use, especially, in poor countries where safety equipment and ventilation are not used is near-criminal. Given the Precautionary Principle, we already know that something this likely toxic must be treated very, very seriously. If its threat is so overwhelmingly negative, why take any chance with it -- especially when there are alternatives?

Better that Quebec keep its big deposits stockpiled, until the day comes when we know how to use it properly for exceptional uses. We're nowhere near there today.

Everyone recognizes that we are polluting our planet in hundreds of ways and suffering new and widespread diseases and health liabilities as a result. Use this promotional budget to research safe asbestos.

Even if we find asbestos is unsafe at any speed, we will have used that money wisely, rather than talking people into compromising their health by using our product. We have to take responsibility for what we produce -- whether an individual business or an entire industry or province.

Use some of that budget to research how to restart failing resource communities. too. Research is a better fate for Asbestos -- and it would eventually help Fort Cooulonge, Portage du Fort, Thurso, and the Gatineau Valley.

Our MNA, Mme L'Ecuyer is a former (and very capable) health service director. Let's hear her speak out professionally, not politically, on this disturbing subject.

Copyright © 2010 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/11.10