Canada has at times played a pivotal leadership role on the world stage.
Examples that come to mind are the creation of the U.N. Peacekeeper role, for which Prime Minister Lester Pearson won the Nobel Prize. Under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Canada was the leader in bringing into being the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thanks to determination shown by Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, Canada led the world in bringing about the Convention to Ban Land Mines.
These examples of our country's international leadership are well known and are a source of pride.
Yet one of the most powerful roles Canada has played globally is unknown to most Canadians. And if they knew, they would, without question, feel no pride.
Canada has been the world leader in the marketing and sale of a deadly substance whose impact on human health has been well-documented for more than 50 years: asbestos.
Until the year 2000, Canada was the world's biggest exporter of asbestos. Today, it is fourth - after Russia, Kazakhstan and Brazil.
As industrialized countries have increasingly moved to ban or severely restrict asbestos, Canada has shifted its focus to become the lead promoter of asbestos exports to developing countries.
In their recently published book Defending the Indefensible, The Global Asbestos Industry and its Fight for Survival, academic researchers, Dr. Geoffrey Tweedale and Prof. Jock McCulloch, note that over the past three decades, "There have been two constants: the struggle by labour in developing countries for safer work conditions and the malevolent role played by Canada in promoting asbestos use in the developing world."1
The Canadian government's service to the asbestos industry has been aggressive and ruthless, a very far cry from our international image of the "nice Canadian".
This report is an exposé of the shocking ways that service has been rendered.
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