Part of the struggle (and personal anger) in recognizing the serious threat of mesothelioma is a counter argument from lobbyists that asbestos, even in light of scientific studies that contradicts otherwise, is not a hazardous material if conditions are safe and optimal. This argument came to a rest in Montreal, Quebec, for one pro-lobbying group who announced they would be shutting down operations permanently.
As reported by the Ottawa Citizen, the government funded pro-asbestos lobby group Chrysotile Institute issued a notice over the weekend that they would be closing its doors and disbanding. Established in 1984, the Chrysotile Institute promoted an agenda of “as long as asbestos is handled in a safe and controlled manner, it causes little risk to workers.” Now, with this announcement, anti-asbestos interests are hoping for a trend to begin, turning arguments to their favor.
Parliament Member Pat Martin (NDP), a longtime critic of Canada’s asbestos industry and former miner himself, refers to the institute’s closing as a “death knell” for asbestos mining in his country.
“I see it as a real tipping point in the movement to get Canada out of the asbestos industry. Another demonstration of the death rattle of the asbestos industry.”
The significance of the Institute’s announcement of their dissolving released on Saturday, April 28 —International Workers’ Memorial Day, a day of commemoration for workers injured and killed around the world — was not lost on MP Martin.
“I’ve lost an awful lot of friends and colleagues to asbestos in my time as an asbestos miner and a carpenter in the building trades,” he told the Ottawa Citizen. “It was very poignant for me to learn that [the institute was closing] on the very day of mourning for injured and fallen workers with the flags at half mast – it was very, very fitting.”
In light of statistics such as the World Health Organization estimating that globally, more than 100,000 people die from asbestos-related illnesses and protests across Asia against asbestos exports, news such as this provides a touch of optimism that perhaps people are sitting up to take notice and the voices raised in awareness and opposition are finally being heard. We at the Meso Foundation also recognize the significance of the Institutes to close on such an important day. Perhaps this was, on the Chrysotile Institute’s part, a message they wanted to send.
Pure speculation, I know, but one can hope.