President of International Chrysotile Association asks Canadian government not to ban asbestos

Tue, Jan 31, 2017

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Kathleen Ruff,

In a letter sent in French  on January 9, 2017 and in English  on January 23, 2017 to officials at Environment Canada, the President of the International Chrysotile Association, Jean-Marc Leblond, calls on the Canadian government to reverse its decision to ban asbestos by 2018. Officials at Environment Canada have been assigned responsibility for drafting new regulations to implement the Canadian government’s decision to ban the manufacture, use, sale, offer for sale, import and export of asbestos by 2018.

Leblond emphasized that since the beginning of the 1980s “successive Canadian governments have defended and wholeheartedly supported the mining and use of chrysotile (asbestos)”. He pointed out that the Canadian and Quebec governments gave more than $55 million to the Chrysotile Institute to promote the “safe, controlled and responsible use” of chrysotile asbestos.

Leblond attacked those who oppose asbestos use, calling them an “anti-asbestos crusade which includes huge vested interests that are often very different from those concerned with health”. Leblond also attacked the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the media.

In his letter Leblond put forward the same false information that the asbestos industry has been putting forward for decades: that scientific studies show that chrysotile asbestos can be used safely and does not cause mesothelioma. Leblond did not mention the fact that the studies he cites were written by scientists paid by the asbestos industry. Nor does he mention that the work of these scientists has been utterly rejected by the world scientific community.

Leblond expressed concern that the Canadian government has exempted from the asbestos ban asbestos residues left behind at now-closed mine sites in Quebec but that this exemption may not be permanent. Currently, there is a project under way by the Alliance Magnesium company to extract magnesium from the asbestos tailings left behind from the Jeffrey mine in Asbestos, Quebec.

Leblond signed the letter as a private citizen but in it refers to his past role as a Director of the Chrysotile Institute and his current role as President of the International Chrysotile Association.

The International Chrysotile Association  is one hundred percent funded by and controlled by foreign asbestos interests. According to Leblond, it receives about one million dollars a year from these asbestos interests. It uses these funds to promote the use of chrysotile asbestos in developing countries and to lobby to defeat proposed asbestos bans in these countries, as well as to defeat international action at the United Nations to recognize all forms of asbestos as being hazardous to human health.

The Directors of the ICA represent asbestos interests in Russia, Kazakhstan, Brazil, India, Mexico and Zimbabwe. According to Leblond, they wanted the ICA to directly lobby the Canadian government not to ban asbestos. Leblond apparently thought that it would look bad for foreign asbestos interests, seeking to advance their own financial interests, to overtly lobby to try to stop the Canadian government from taking action to protect the lives of Canadian citizens. Leblond therefore signed the letter as a private person, while referring in the letter to his position as President of the ICA and putting the letter and the lobbying action up on the ICA website as an action carried out by the ICA President.

In his letter, Leblond omitted to disclose his role as owner and Director of Polyser Inc., a for-profit company that provides consulting and representation services apparently for the asbestos interests that are represented on the ICA Board of Directors.

The fact that Leblond is reduced to :

  • referring to a past, which no longer exists, when Canadian and Quebec governments supported asbestos
  • putting forward discredited work by discredited scientists with financial ties to the asbestos industry
  • using slurs against the reputable scientists, health activists and asbestos victims who have called for a ban on all forms of asbestos

shows that, despite spending millions of dollars on industry lobbyists and using corrupt tactics, such as hiring spies, the asbestos industry is losing its battle to continue its deadly trade.

Leblond and the International Chrysotile Association have been defeated in Canada and they will be defeated everywhere.


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