Harper government to reopen the asbestos debate?

Shortly before the federal election, the Harper government championed Canada’s exportation of asbestos, or, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper calls it “crysotile.” Little did our leaders know that the topic would explode into an international debate over the next month.

As discussed on this environmental blog, The Daily Show recently spoofed Canada’s exportation of carcinogenic asbestos to countries like India. Perhaps in light of the negative international publicity generated by the segment, the Harper government may be reopening the discussion.

Langley, British Columbia MP Mark Warawa said Friday that he personally wants to get the debate started again.

“I think we need to take a serious look at the export of asbestos,” he said. “It’s directly linked to cancer.”

The silly part, as Warawa pointed out, is that the Parliament buildings in Ottawa are currently undergoing asbestos removal. Citizens all over the country, from Nunavut to the Greater Toronto Area GTA), are well aware that asbestos fibres cause lung cancer. The material is considered too dangerous for our own politicians’ places of work. Yet we allow its export to other countries? It just doesn’t add up.

Warawa hasn’t specified if he favours an outright ban on asbestos exportation or some other, less drastic measure, simply saying that “I think we need to look at all options.”

The fact that so many “sick” buildings, schools and so on across Canada are seeking out asbestos inspection and removal companies should send a major message to the Harper government. Asbestos is too toxic to have in our homes, our workplaces or near our children. So why are we pawning it off on other nations?

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