George Monbiot is on Canada's case over the tar sands, writing Canada's Image in Tatters. But there are other stories about Canada that can't be justified at all.
Four hundred Québécois work at Thetford Mines, about the same number that die every year from their exposure to the stuff. Almost all of it is exported to developing industries, 43% of it to India,where it is made into cement board, roofing tiles and other products like brake linings for cars. One Indian website notes that "even if one asbestos fibre reaches the right place, it causes irreversible damage - leading to asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma."
But as Martin Mittelstaedt notes in the Globe and Mail, speaking out in Québéc against asbestos has been akin to Newfoundlanders criticizing the seal hunt or Albertans the oil sands- It just isn't done. But it is as big a stain on our reputation.
Hey, we don't even need masks.
A few months ago Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff came out against asbestos mining, saying in the Gazette that he knows how important asbestos is to Quebec's Thetford Mines region, "but the science is telling us that it is dangerous and we have to follow the science." The Prime Minister's spokesperson accused him of "being ready to shut down a one-industry region. "He's a touring recession."
It is not a good career move to criticize the industry. One Quebec doctor says that others who did so "suffered severe backlash on a personal basis."
Back in India, they see it differently. In MeriNews, Yogesh Kant writes:
It is unconscionable that Canadian government knowingly exports a killer product that will kill thousands of people in India with the consent of the Indian government. As long as Indian, Russian and Canadian government continues to support it, they would be and they must be deemed as one of the biggest violators of human rights on earth and unfit to be part of the rest of the civilized countries who have banned asbestos industry.
Another reason to rip that flag off the backpack.