As Quebec’s party leaders outlined their various stances on health and the environment this past weekend, it was clear that each took a bit of a different stand on the issue of the continuation of the province’s asbestos mining industry, though the opinions tended towards the cessation of exports to other countries.
According to an article on CBC News, at least one party leader – François Legault, the Coalition Avenir Québec leader – announced that he would favor a ban on the exporting of the material. “Exporting a toxic product is morally and scientifically indefensible,” Legault said. “Quebec has to come to terms with an industry that’s stuck in the past.”
Legault added, however, that he would honor the recent $58 million loan recently granted to the Jeffrey Mine for its reopening, but he noted that he would “work with the company to switch to other lines of business.”
Candidates from the Québec Solidaire have jumped on the ban asbestos bandwagon as well, eager to promote their “green” agenda.
“It’s encouraging, after being the only ones to take this position, to hear another party propose banning exports of this carcinogenic product,” Québec Solidaire co-spokesperson Amir Khadir noted. “It’s indefensible to export asbestos while knowing full well that it be used in poorer countries in ways that are banned in Quebec and in Canada.”
Parti Québécois Leader Pauline Marois said she “deplored” the way the loan was made but she wasn’t quite ready to put a halt to asbestos mining or stop the export of the material to Third World countries who use it in the manufacture of inexpensive building materials like cement. Marois’ running mate, Réjean Hébert, the former dean of medicine at the University of Sherbrooke, says there’s no scientific doubt that asbestos causes mesothelioma cancer, but there are still social issues to contend with, including the fact that the re-opening of the mine means the employment of 400 workers.