A few years ago, the last asbestos mine in the country closed for good after a new Quebec provincial government nixed a deal for its owners. Canada went from becoming the biggest exporter of asbestos – and a despised champion of its protection from international regulation – to…a sort of wishy washy neutral stance. It’s…

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In the midst of all the hoopla over Ottawa’s recent announcement that it was reversing its former position on asbestos – blaming the newly elected separatist Parti Québécois and their prompt cancellation of the former Liberal government’s $58 million loan to the parties looking to reopen the massive Jeffrey Mine – the Toronto Star recently reported that asbestos products are still being imported into Ontario from Quebec.

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The recent Québec election that saw the Parti Québécois recapturing the province may spell the end of the Canadian exportation industry. During the campaign, Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois herself has previously stated that if elected her government would cancel the $58-million loan which was extended by the Jean Charest government to the company looking to re-open the giant Jeffrey asbestos mine.

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Voices continue to rise in opposition to the Quebec government’s Canada Day announcement that they will grant a direct loan of $58 million to reopen the Jeffrey Mine, the world’s largest asbestos mine.

A Statement endorsed by over 150 public health and other organizations along with individual scientists calls for an outright worldwide ban on the mining, use and export of all forms of asbestos – including the chrysotile variety that Canadian interests plan to soon begin producing and exporting.

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Business and personal relationships with links to the asbestos industry may lead the Canadian Red Cross Society to ask for the resignation of one of its Executive Board Members. Board Member Roshi Chandha hit the headlines earlier this month when anti-asbestos activists questioned the propriety of her serving with an organization known for its humanitarian work around the world.

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As the Quebec government considers a proposal to re-open the bankrupt Jeffrey asbestos mine by a group of investors – a deal that would involve $58 million in provincial loan guarantees – Ontario families of asbestos victims held a news conference in Toronto in early November. The group, mainly from the Sarnia area, related heartrending stories of the ravages of mesothelioma and the other lung problems engendered by exposure to asbestos.

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Worried that the rest of the world is figuring out what we Canadians already know, the asbestos lobbyists are turning to PR firm APCO Worldwide. Does the company’s name ring a bell? APCO Worldwide is the PR agency known for defending the Phillip Morris tobacco company in the early 1990s. It set up a group called The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition and tried to dismiss the world’s worries about second-hand smoke as “junk science.”

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