Protests in Seoul, South Korea; Washington DC; New York and Brussels, June 24, 2010
On Quebec’s national day, June 24, protests took place around the world against a proposed Quebec government $58 million subsidy to revive Quebec’s dying asbestos industry. This subsidy would allow the inidustry to open a new Jeffrey underground mine and export 5 million tonnes of asbestos to the developing world over the next twenty-five years.
Quebec’s Jeffrey asbestos mine was the world’s biggest open-pit asbestos mine. For the past century, it exported asbestos all over the world. Today, it is barely surviving. It is under bankruptcy protection and ceased operations last October, having no more asbestos. Industrialized countries, who received Quebec’s vast asbestos exports in the past, today are experiencing asbestos disease epidemics. All these countries have now banned asbestos or, if they haven’t banned it, simply refuse to use it.
Private investors refuse to invest in the mine.The mine owes $50 million to the Quebec Pension Fund and owes $30 million for clean-up costs of the environmental mess its mine has created. Former workers at the Jeffrey mine lost a chunk of their pension funds in the bankruptcy agreement.
Prime Minister Harper and Premier Charest are strong supporters of the asbestos industry and fund the industry’s lobby group, the Chrysotile Institute. Canada is a leading world propagandist for use of asbestos in developing countries.
On June 24, protests against Quebec and Canada took place in Hong Kong, Seoul, Mumbai, New York, Washington DC and Brussels.