The Jeffrey Mine has been closed for a while, due to minimal demand for its product, asbestos. The stuff is illegal in North America, but makes a nice lightweight fireproof cement panel that is used in India and other developing countries. Residents are overjoyed at the government's largesse, as one noted in the Montreal Gazette:
If we didn’t have a mine, there wouldn’t be a city – there would be nothing. This place is full of old retired folks who used to work in Jeffrey, and all the young people have had to go elsewhere to find a job. So it will be great to get a new generation into those mines.
Yes indeed, a new generation of workers who may well get asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. But hey, it pays C$16 per hour and Canada has universal health care.
And why would the government do such a stupid thing? Kelly McParland explains in the National Post.
The simple answer is politics. The federal Conservatives hold just five seats in Quebec and are loath to offend any more voters.....Yet even in a profession as cynical as politics, you rarely come across such a naked refusal to acknowledge health and safety considerations in pursuing short-term partisan benefits. If Quebec continued to produce and market thalidomide, a drug that produced catastrophic consequences when it was briefly available in the 1960s, would [Quebec Premier] Mr. Charest and [Canadian Prime Minister] Mr. Harper be offering such ardent support? Is death OK when it happens in another country?
More in the National Post.