As McCulloch and Tweedale comment in their history of toxic corporate crime, "The most striking feature of the asbestos tragedy - and the most poignant - is that there has never been any shortage of information. What has been lacking are the social and political safeguards to enable that knowledge to be used for public benefit."59
We are at a tipping point in Canada. By putting political ambition ahead of human decency, our political leaders are not representing the values of Canadians or the people of Quebec.
Few, if any, Canadians would want our public funds used to help sue a victims group such as ANDEVA, or to have warning labels removed from asbestos so that workers are put at greater risk of harm. Nor is it likely that Canadians would oppose a plan to help clean up deadly asbestos debris surrounding survivors of tsunamis or earthquakes.
Canadian taxpayers do not want their tax money used to support politicized science that denies global warming and the harm caused by asbestos. Nor do they want to deny countries their right under the Rotterdam Convention to be informed that chrysotile asbestos is hazardous, and that it can kill them.
But our government is doing these things in our name.
Asbestos "tells you everything you need know about the reality of our economic system, what it values and what it fails to protect," says Jim Brophy, who as an occupational health expert in the asbestos-contaminated Sarnia region of Ontario has too many times seen up close the human tragedy of asbestos-caused illness and death.60
We must, as Canadians show what kind of people we are. We must, once and for all, tell our political leaders that enough is enough - that there have been too many lies and too much corruption and heartlessness.
The Canadian government must without delay:
- stop funding the Chrysotile Institute
- introduce legislation to ban the use and export of asbestos
- create a national registry for asbestos disease
- provide just and adequate transition assistance to workers and communities involved in the asbestos industry
- ensure that fair compensation is provided to all people across Canada with asbestos-related disease
- take responsibility for harm caused by asbestos placed in houses on First Nations reserves and on army bases
- support the listing of chrysotile asbestos under the Rotterdam Convention
Says Bob Sass, one Canada's great health and safety leaders: "To fail to act makes us bystanders to a criminal policy."
Most moral, religious and human rights teachings share a fundamental value: that of doing no harm.
It's time to stop exporting harm. It's time to stop Canada's asbestos trade.
Brief History of Asbestos: Hiding the Dangers in the Name of Profits
How the Canadian Government has Marketed Asbestos to Developing Countries
World Call of Conscience to Prime Minister Harper