Despite the fact that Canada is one of the few developed countries to still attempt to be active in the asbestos trade, its citizenry has largely been a vocal opponent of the industry.
A variety of Conservative politicians – including Prime Minister Stephen Harper – and industry executives have been working hard to reinvigorate the flagging industry through loan guarantees and the like. Despite their efforts, there are currently no asbestos mining operations taking place in Canada, and part of this can likely be attributed to the prominent protests of many of the country’s residents.
And the citizens’ outcries are only getting louder, as more and more people join the ranks of people decrying the mining of the substance that has been proven to cause asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma for five decades.
Descendant of prominent asbestos miner joins protests
Vancouver’s Susan Henry is related to Andrew Stuart Johnson, who founded the Johnson Mine Company in Thetford Mines, which was the first operational asbestos mine in Canada, according to the Montreal Gazette.
Henry has now joined people who are trying to end asbestos operations in Canada.
“Although my great-great uncle, Andrew S. Johnson, founded his mine… in good faith, the intervening years have revealed the very dangerous nature of asbestos,” Henry wrote to members of the David Suzuki Foundation recently. “It is deeply disturbing to me that we are now poised to ramp up exports to developing countries, when we are fully aware of how lethal this mineral can be.”
Opposition to asbestos policy growing louder
The David Suzuki Foundation has a goal of sending 10,000 messages to Prime Minister Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest to get them to stop trying to reopen the Jeffrey asbestos mine.
Quebec had promised developers that it would guarantee a $58 million loan to Westmount-based Balcorp Ltd. so that the company could expand the mine. The government and asbestos industry backers have argued that such an operation would put people back to work and help revitalize the area’s economy.
However, anti-asbestos advocates, along with the global medical community, have correctly pointed out that the toll that asbestos takes on a population isn’t worth any amount of jobs or money.
Asbestos-related illnesses are responsible for killing 107,000 people each year around the world, according to the World Health Organization.