Standing Alone, Canada blocks push to label asbestos a hazardous chemicalGerald Caplan:
Canada has single-handedly blocked listing chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical, the United Nations confirmed Wednesday, even as the Conservative government maintained its silence back home.
At a summit in Switzerland, Canada's delegation ended days of silence and speculation by opposing the inclusion of asbestos on a UN treaty called the Rotterdam Convention.
“Yes, I can confirm they intervened in the chemicals contact group meeting this afternoon and opposed listing,” Michael Stanley-Jones of the UN Environment Program said in an email.
Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan also initially opposed the listing. However, Mr. Stanley-Jones said one-by-one they switched positions after India announced it would support the listing.
That left Canada as the lone voice against the listing. “All had consented when Canada announced its position opposing listing,” Mr. Stanley-Jones said.
Listing asbestos on Annex III of the convention would force exporters such as Canada to warn recipient countries of any health hazards. Those countries could also then refuse asbestos imports if they didn't think they could handle the product safely.
Asbestos use is so tightly controlled in Canada that it is effectively banned. The federal government is spending tens of millions of dollars to remove asbestos from public buildings, including on Parliament Hill and from the prime minister's residence.
Exporting death: Another popular Harper foreign policyCanadians talk about Canada "becoming the US", and they often miss the mark, not truly understanding the giant they fear. But here we have it: exceptionalism, profit-driven obstruction of health and environmental improvements, exporting death to third-world countries, junk science, industry above all.
What do you call a country that deliberately sells products abroad that will kill many people? You call it Canada. What do you call it when a state action kills a large numbers of defenseless people? You call it a crime against humanity. So how can exporting death by Canadian asbestos not be a crime against humanity and how can a state that does so not be guilty of committing such a crime?
Why does the International Criminal Court not issue warrants for those Canadian and Quebec government officials who are promoting the sale of deadly asbestos to poor countries where the death of many people is guaranteed? The reputation of the young court has been sorely undermined by its focus solely on Africans accused of terrible crimes. Canada's promotion of asbestos offers an opportunity to redress the balance.
It’s also nothing less than criminal that we need yet another column on this issue. Every lethal aspect of the asbestos trade has been comprehensively exposed. It’s received prominent coverage by the mainstream media throughout the country, including Quebec, where the only asbestos mine is now located. . . . .
The case needs no further documentation. Except for some corporate interests and the paid hacks who shamelessly support them, no one doubts that asbestos, of whatever variety, is a cancer-causing killer. Here’s the bottom line: Asbestos can never again be used in Canada and 52 countries have banned it outright.
Every health organization you’ve ever heard of has condemned both the Canadian and the Quebec governments for actively promoting asbestos exports. According to the World Health Organization, more than 100,000 people worldwide die of occupational exposure to asbestos each year. As one of the top five asbestos exporters in the world, Canada is a major contributor to the carnage. Yet it continues, with the active support of Stephen Harper and Jean Charest.
Shame, shame, shame.