Monday, December 13, 2010

In Quebec, Hypocrisy is Spelt "A-S-B-E-S-T-O-S"

To listen to the various interviews of old time residents of Asbestos, Quebec, the asbestos capital of the world,  one might be pardoned for thinking that the much maligned mineral is as harmless as Play-doh.

Interviewee after interviewee explain on television news programs how they've been working around asbestos their whole lives with no ill effects and that the campaign against the product is ill-founded. Yessir!

I'm not going to insult readers by presenting the opposite view, the scientifically accepted fact that asbestos is a dangerous product that well deserves it's placement as a banned substance in the industrialized world.
If you'd really need convincing about the life-threatening consequences of living with asbestos, READ THIS

The current debate about the opening of the defunct JEFFREY MINE, to re-start production is one of the saddest and clearest cases of the politics of hypocrisy that I can recall. LINK

At stake are 450 direct jobs and 1200 indirect jobs in a decidedly depressed area of the province. The town of Asbestos grew up around the mine and the mineral's downfall led to  a similar downward spiral in the fortunes of the residents.

It is just amazing to see the tap dancing occurring by politicians trying to justify the project, based on the idea that the product can be handled and used safely under the right conditions.
But those conditions don't exist where the product will be exported to, third world countries like
India, Indonesia and the Philippines, where "little or no protection exist for workers or exposed populations. LINK

The minister in charge is hemming and hawing, claiming a decision on the required 58 million loan guarantee hasn't been made, but the pressure is on.  
Before giving a green light to the project, he demanded that local politicians take responsibility for the decision, in a sad effort to spread around the inevitable blame and somehow shirk responsibility.
"This is not a prerequisite, but it is a desirable condition that there is community support for the operation of chrysotile. I think it's a major consultation that will come in weighing the government's decision."- Clement Gignac, Minister of Economic Development.
What is hard to stomach is the media lobbying campaign that is being waged by forces in favour of the return of the mine.
The Quebec government has for years provided the major funding for a propaganda website that promotes asbestos.
The Chrysotile Institute 'strives for;'

While medical journals like The Lancet condemn asbestos production as immoral, the Quebec government, the asbestos industry and all it's beneficiaries, stick their collective fingers in their ears, shouting the familiar child's chant of; 
"Although Canada will not expose its own citizens to asbestos, its plans to continue exporting the deadly substance to developing countries has drawn widespread condemnation. Read the Lancet Article
Of course internationally, it is Canada that is suffering the black eye, not Quebec.

A demonstration was held on Thursday outside the Canadian embassy in London, England protesting the project. LINK 

 The story is reverberating around the world, as far away as Australia;
"A high-income country like Canada dumping their asbestos on countries where there are no health and safety regulations, the population is completely exposed to any sorts of hazardous exposure - it's pretty reprehensible," she said.
Ms Kazan-Allen says Canada has also blocked attempts by the World Health Organization to include white asbestos on a list that alerts nations if they are about to import hazardous substances.
Protests against the new Canadian mine have been held in Seoul and Tokyo and more are planned for Quebec, Paris and London". ABC News
Anti-asbestos activists from Asia came to Quebec to get  their message across;
"Millions of workers in the developing countries are going to be exposed to the asbestos which is being exported from Canada," said union activist Anup Srivastava from India.

It is utter hypocrisy for Quebec to complain about the Alberta Tar Sands at international conferences , while pedaling asbestos innocently on the world market, like a drug dealer, who maintains that the product can be used safely.
And so Quebec is somehow seen as Canada's green Garden of Eden, something that would be laughable if not so patently untrue.
"If Quebecers  felt pride seeing an Australian forest named  after Premier Jean Charest for his actions on climate change, would they be just as happy if one day we baptized a cemetery in the name of their first Minister to commemorate the victims of the Quebec asbestos in the world? " Link fr
What is more galling, is that this asbestos mess is being blamed on Canada internationally. The reputation of all Canadians is being sullied by a policy that wouldn't fly in any other province but Quebec.

I'd expect the Premier of Alberta to point out the irony and step up and condemn Quebec at some international conference himself, but perhaps he's too much of a gentleman.

We all know what would be if the shoe were on the other foot....


  1. The Asbestos mine should without doubt be closed down, its pathetically barbaric to pursue riches in that domain.
    however, Alberta is no better. comparing the two exposes the hypocrisy, but i can assure you tar sands would not fly here

  2. Mississauga Guy said...

    When all the workers in the mine get sick, I guess they'll file their claims in French, or else... (a leftover from this past Friday).

    In reality, will an environmental assessment be done before this proposal becomes reality? Betcha the parties that want to get on with this will lose. Then again, when has this stopped the Quebec government from doing the stupidest thing possible?

  3. Mississauga Guy to Anon @ 1:32AM:

    The tar sands would fly in Quebec if there was oil in Quebec and this was the only means possible for Quebec to extract oil.

  4. Quebec politicians and citizens are the biggest hypocrite, how is that news? we know. The are shoveling billions of debt to their grand kids, and do not want the government to cut THEIR service, they want their grandkids to cut and pay their granparents services renderred.

  5. I note Charest and CO didn't make any reference to the asbestos in Cophenhagen or at other enviromental meetings. Only how bad the benefactor from the West is with regards to enviromental issues. If so concerned, Quebec should return all the equalizattion money over the past several years which is predominately provided by Alberta. In Quebec they talk the talk but don't ever walk the talk. Hypocrites.

  6. Anonymous 1:32 "but i can assure you tar sands would not fly here"
    You can't be serious. The only reason that the tar sands wouldn't fly there is because they don't exist there. Quebec's treatment of the asbestos issue show's us exactly how they would treat the tar sands.

  7. Good jobs for Anglophones, let them trespass in French in hospitals, in French. They want to speak English on the job, it's a good place for them.

    Not any worse than sending the French to fight the Queen's wars! Not any worse than firing the French because they didn't speak English AFTER THE WAR ! WE ARE THOSE CHILDREN. THE MISERY THE FRENCH HAD ON ACCOUNT OF THE ENGLISH COULD MAKE THE MISERABLES OF VICTOR HUGO BETTER THAN EVER ! (OUR WINTERS WERE TERRIBLE). Let them have a bit of their medicine.


  8. To anon. at 12:05 PM,

    What does your incoherent rant have do with Quebec asbestos, Madame Frog?

  9. This blog is doing a good job in attracting the pur laine chauvanists to respond with their hypocritical nonsense (as usual). The pur laine chauvanists are so use to politically correct mainstream media. They are having a tough time justifying their hypocrisy when people are openly exposing their contradictions.

    This blog is doing a good job.

  10. Anon 1:32AM: "but i can assure you tar sands would not fly here "

    I can assure you that tar sands would fly here. If the opportunity was there, the gouvernemaman would be all over it.

    Quebec tends to be very hypocritical on the issue of environment in general. It’s very easy to act green if the opportunities or the natural resources aren't there. But the minute a discovery is made, priorities change very quickly. Greed always trumps environmental issues, as is the case all over the world.

    Case in point - the shale gas reserves discovered recently in northern Quebec. Both Charest and Marois couldn’t hide their excitement (and Marois isn’t even in power, but only projecting to be in the future). Despite warnings from environmental groups about the potential environmental risks associated with the drilling, both the PQ and the PLQ spoke in one voice - we'll allow research to go on for a year, but afterwards we're going through with extraction.

  11. A la différence du gouvernement libéral je crois qu'une administration Péquiste serait plus prudente en matière d'extraction et plus respectueuse de l'environnement.

    Contrairement aux libéraux,les Péquistes sont plus a l'écoute des citoyens Québécois qui demandent un moratoire sur la question.Il ne s'agit pas ici de stopper l'exploitation mais bien de prendre le temps nécessaire a la bonne conduite des opérations.

  12. To ano 4:03

    lol lol lol, marois already wants it nationalized, which by miracle seem to resolve all the environmental issues pushed by the enviro-lefties. Funny how those disappear quickly as an issue when it is quebec that owns it. Once they nationalize it, any criticism will be quebec bashing. Same old, same old.

  13. Not any worse than sending the French to fight the Queen's wars!

    Is it just me or should the world not have wasted all those lives liberating France?.

  14. The Quebecois always brag about their clean, green hydro-electric power, but that really isn't the case. Their dams have destroyed formerly pristine river systems forever and have flooded vast areas of forested land. The reservoirs that have been created are full of mercury produced from rotting vegetation underwater. Some scientists even believe that the massive amount of water stored in these reservoirs is affecting the tilt of the earth on its axis.

    Now Hydro Quebec is planning to build four dams along the Romaine River on the North Shore, which could potentially destroy its native population of Atlantic salmon.

  15. "Anonymous said...

    The Asbestos mine should without doubt be closed down, its pathetically barbaric to pursue riches in that domain.
    however, Alberta is no better. comparing the two exposes the hypocrisy, but i can assure you tar sands would not fly here"

    It does fly in Quebec. To the tune of $8.4 billion dollars. Quebec publically denounces the oil sands while privately endorses and encourages them.