The Montreal-based Chrysotile Asbestos Group, a pro-asbestos lobbying group formed in 1984 and backed by the Canadian government, announced this past weekend that they would be dissolving. It’s a decision, say business experts, that indicates the country’s long-time asbestos mining industry is in big trouble.
According to a report in the Ottawa Citizen, the institute submitted its notice to disband to the federal government and an announcement as to their plans was published in the Canada Gazette, an official government publication that profiles new laws and provides other public information to the citizens of Canada.
While pro-asbestos citizens and industry leaders may be mourning the dissolution of the Chrysotile Institute, which has long supported the asbestos mining industry in Quebec, those who’ve been rallying for a ban on the mining of the mineral and its export to Third World countries couldn’t be happier with the news.
“I see it as a real tipping point in the movement to get Canada out of the asbestos industry,” said MP Pat Martin. “It’s just another demonstration of the death rattle of the asbestos industry in this country.”
Martin, formerly involved in the asbestos industry, has been one of the most outspoken members of the Canadian Parliament in regards to an overall asbestos ban, not just in Canada but worldwide. He believes it was no coincidence that he found out about the organization’s dissolution on International Workers’ Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor the memory of those workers who were injured or killed on the job, including thousands of Canadians who have died of mesothelioma cancer due to asbestos exposure.
“I’ve lost an awful lot of friends and colleagues to asbestos in my time as an asbestos miner and a carpenter in the building trades,” Martin said. “It was very poignant for me to learn that (the institute was closing) on the very day of mourning for injured and fallen workers with the flags at half mast – it was very, very fitting.”
The Chrysotile Institute has long claimed that the type of asbestos mined in Canada – known as “white” or Chrysotile asbestos - is safe as long as it is handled and managed properly.However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, affiliated with the World Health Organization, has conducted extensive asbestos-related research and has determined that asbestos “is carcinogenic in all its forms.”
Currently, both of Quebec’s chrysotile mines are closed though one is awaiting news about a loan from the government that will allow it to reopen. Thousands hope that day will never come.