Harper must put lives before politics on asbestos: NDP

OTTAWA – On the eve of the UN’s Rotterdam Convention on hazardous material New Democrats are calling for the Conservatives to stop ignoring Health Canada’s advice on the risks of chrysotile asbestos and to finally list it as a controlled substance.

“Conservatives must stop trying to hide the health effects of this toxic material,” said New Democrat Natural Resources Critic Romeo Saganash. “It’s time they acknowledge that chrysotile asbestos is dangerous and stop sabotaging international efforts to list it on the U.N.’s list of hazardous substances.”

Internal documents reveal that as far back as 2006 Health Canada officials refuted the Conservatives’ claim that chrysotile asbestos is safe, with the Director General of the Safe Environments Programme stating: “We can not [sic] say that chrysotile is safe. [Health Canada’s] preferred position would be to list – as this is consistent with controlled use.”

“Claims that chrysotile asbestos is harmless are entirely bogus. Industry-funded junk science doesn’t stand up to the facts,” said Pat Martin (Winnipeg-Centre). “Canada has dumped 750,000 tonnes of asbestos on world markets since ignoring Health Canada’s advice and it’s still the world’s leading industrial killer, claiming over 100,000 lives every year.”

New Democrats are being supported by health professionals, trade unions, the Cancer Society and other groups who have signed a joint letter urging Stephen Harper to stop blocking international efforts to control chrysotile asbestos use.

“We must stop the deadly exports - this is a black eye to our international reputation,” said Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley). “Harper can begin to fix this next week by publicly directing our delegation to support the adding of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance.”