Most Canadians are not aware of the global role Canada has played to promote the sale of chrysotile asbestos (the only form of asbestos still sold today) to developing countries.
Every independent scientific body in the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization and the Canadian Cancer Society, have called for chrysotile asbestos to be banned since it is a recognized carcinogen and there is no safe way it can be used.
Chrysotile asbestos has been banned by most industrialized countries. But, undeterred by the scientific evidence of the harm it does to human health, the asbestos industry, helped by the Canadian government, is pursuing the same strategy as the tobacco industry and is aggressively marketing asbestos to developing countries.
The unsavory tactics used by the Canadian government to promote the sale of Canada’s asbestos include:
• Giving millions of dollars of public funds to the Chrysotile Institute to promote asbestos sales in developing countries;
• Disseminating misinformation about the hazards of asbestos in order to “manufacture uncertainty”;
• Preventing people handling Canadian asbestos from being warned that it is hazardous;
• Using intimidation, trade threats and political interference in the affairs of other countries to prevent the banning or regulating of asbestos;
• Destroying a Strategic Assistance Plan for disaster-prone areas of the world, aimed at cleaning up asbestos-contaminated debris after the deadly 2004 tsunami in Asia;
• Denying help to Canadian victims of asbestos exposure;
• Making a secret deal to exploit Canada’s good international image in order to increase asbestos sales;
• Attempting repeatedly to sabotage a U.N. Convention so as to prevent developing countries being informed of the hazards of chrysotile asbestos.
We as Canadians want our government to be a force for good in the world. But when it comes to asbestos, we as a country are doing the opposite. We are doing harm in the world.
It’s time to stop exporting harm. It’s time to stop Canada’s asbestos trade.