Quebec invited to drop the asbestos industry
The global asbestos lobby is registered as a non-profit organization in Quebec. Dozens of organizations, scientists and doctors around the world believe that this credibility allows the industry to spread falsehoods about asbestos.
In a letter to Prime Minister Francois Legault, the experts ask the government to act to dissociate itself from this lobby.
The author of the letter to Canadian Press is activist Kathleen Ruff, founder of RightOn Canada, a partner at the Rideau Institute. She works to defend human rights, promote social justice and protect the environment. Ms. Ruff received the medal of the National Assembly of Quebec, in 2016, for her perseverance in the fight to end the exploitation of asbestos.
Its main co-signer is Montreal physician Jean Zigby, who represents the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. The duo is supported by 27 organizations as well as 41 doctors and scientists from around the world.
They denounce the fact that the International Association of chrysotile (AIC), the global asbestos lobby, is registered in Quebec as a non-profit legal entity (NPO). According to the signatories, “Quebec’s credibility is used immorally and destructively to spread false scientific information that endangers human life”.
The signatories claim that the government put an end to Quebec’s “complicity” with “the indefensible malfeasance of the asbestos industry” by removing its status.
“AIC promotes the false claim that chrysotile asbestos is an excellent product that can be safely used by developing countries – a product that Canada has banned because it is a dangerous product that can not be used safely, “says the five-page letter.
Despite these recognized health risks, the industry continues to develop its activities in disadvantaged countries. Asbestos is used in a form of cement used to build buildings, including schools and houses.
“Children in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and other developing countries, where AIC members sell their products’ asbestos, attend schools and live in houses with broken asbestos cement roofs.” just above their heads, “says Kathleen Ruff in her letter.
In a telephone interview, the human rights activist says she does not believe for a second that “the people of Quebec want to cause harm to people in developing countries.”
“Can we have double standards and ban these activities in Quebec because they cause deaths, but allow them abroad? She asks.
No Québec Administrator
The address of the International Chrysotile Association, as a non-profit Quebec organization, is that of a law firm in downtown Montreal.
According to its file in the Quebec business register, none of the directors of this Quebec NPO resides in the province or even in Canada.
The main representative, identified as the “physical person” behind the organization, is Emiliano Alonso Pelegrin. According to his profile on the social network Linkedin, this lawyer would reside in Brussels, Belgium.
Other registered directors have addresses in the United States, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mexico, Zimbabwe and India.
The BAPE in Asbestos from 4th to 6th December
The BAPE commission of inquiry on asbestos will conduct the first part of its public hearing from December 4 to 6 in Asbestos and from December 10 to 12 in Thetford Mines.
The Legault government, let us recall, is trying to scientifically determine whether the 800 million tonnes of residues left by the asbestos industry in Quebec can be safely marketed.
In addition to the presence of experts from seven departments and agencies who will answer questions from participants and commissioners, the first part of this public hearing, which aims to provide information, will allow the submission of sectoral reports aimed at providing on the issue of asbestos and tailings management, detailed the BAPE by press release Monday.
The Ministries of the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources, Health and Social Services, Education and Higher Education, Transportation, the Economy and Innovation, and Municipal Affairs will be heard, as will the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety (CNESST).
The public sessions will be led by Joseph Zayed, who also chaired the work in the region for the Lac-Mégantic rail bypass. He will be joined by Commissioners Marie-Hélène Gauthier and Pierre Magnan.
The public can already send questions to the commissioners at [email protected] The commission of inquiry will judge the relevance of the questions and will dispose of them after evaluation, one specifies.
The detailed schedule of the sessions and their live broadcast on the web will be available at www.bape.gouv.qc.ca
Subsequently, from January 13 to 20, the commission of inquiry will hold sectoral meetings in Quebec City to obtain opinions on the relevance or otherwise of upgrading asbestos tailings and, if so, under what conditions. Organizations, ministries, researchers, citizens and municipalities will be invited to comment on the subject.
Finally, the second part of the public hearing where citizens, organizations and municipalities will be invited to express themselves, in the form of a brief or verbal presentation, will begin on February 18, according to a schedule that remains to be confirmed.
The BAPE report must be submitted to the Ministry of the Environment no later than July 24, 2020.
In addition to the BAPE website, the documents related to the mandate, including departmental sectoral reports, are also available at Asbestos Library and the Thetford Cégep Library. Jacynthe Nadeau