Nathan Cullen has slammed the Conservative government for not supporting a new classification on asbestos which would have included it with other dangerous substances.
At a meeting of countries in Switzerland over a United Nations document called the Rotterdam Convention, nations debated the inclusion of Chrysotile asbestos into the list of dangerous materials.
Doing so would require Canada, an asbestos exporter, to warn purchasing nations of the dangers of the material, akin to the warning images on packages of cigarettes.
“Canada is now virtually alone in the world, refusing to list asbestos as a dangerous substance,” he said.
Canada did have support from other nations who didn’t consent to the labeling of the asbestos either, including Vietnam and Kazakhstan.
“I find it appalling that this government won’t allow it into the Parliament buildings … but feels it’s okay for Indian workers to be exposed.”
The issue of chrysotile asbestos has come up before at prior meetings of nations for the Rotterdam Convention, and will come back again when the parties meet in 2013.
Quebec has the only active asbestos mine in Canada
Cullen said that employment in that sector has dropped from several thousand to approximately 600.
He said the NDP is the only party that are talking about transitioning the existing workers to other fields and that they will continue to meet with the community members and leaders.
“One thing we know is that this industry is dying,” he said. “The world has turned and there is a reason we don’t put asbestos in our homes now.”
Detailed in the Rotterdam Convention are the efforts of Australia, Chile and the European community in banning asbestos. More information on the Rotterdam Convention is available online at http://www.pic.int/.