Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cancer-causing asbestos too dangerous for Parliament, but Canada gladly exports for profit

It is being removed from Canada’s public buildings, was banned by the European Union and caused Transport Minister Chuck Strahl’s lung cancer, but Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is defending asbestos exports. (The Star, Apr. 26, 2011)

So we know it is medically linked to a rare cancer of the lungs called mesothelioma, but Prime Minister Harper has no problem letting those with less knowledge of it, use it - India, for example.

Harper's attitude: Canada "will not put Canadian industry in a position where it is discriminated against in a market where sale is permitted." ("Canada's Shame...", Vancouver Sun, June 15)

What kind of message does this send to anyone, individuals, businesses, groups, society in general?! To this watcher, it is not an optimistic, helpful, healthy or caring message. It's one thing to present a product where people can make an educated decision on whether or not to use a product. In Canada, we are fortunate to a large extent to have access to reams of information about virtually anything, in addition to the warnings and news already circulating about dangerous materials like asbestos. In developing countries, crucial knowledge and life saving awareness is not as developed as here. So how ethical is it to export stuff that even Parliament Hill, and the Prime Minister's residence, has removed from their premises?

Should profit trump ethics? Is making a profit by any means equal to some sort of success or victory here? Is this how developed or "evolved" or civilized we are? In 2006 the Canadian government did not even want asbestos to be on a hazardous materials list under the United Nations treaty called the Rotterdam Convention.

The message could be, what they don't know won't hurt us .. only them. We should be proud, how progressive! This is one clue as to how Canada survived the recession. When it comes to profits of mining companies at least, let's not care about who buys asbestos, just as long as they buy.

1 comment:

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