“Canada is on the sidelines when it comes to banning asbestos trade” by Kathleen Ruff

Toronto Star: “Canada is on the sidelines when it comes to banning asbestos trade” by Kathleen Ruff  February 27, 2015

Canada is sending a terrible message to the rest of the world. Oppose responsible trade; reject scientific evidence; obstruct international co-operation.

Removing asbestos with hazmat suits.

Removing asbestos with hazmat suits. UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP / GETTY IMAGES

By: Kathleen Ruff Published on Fri Feb 27 2015

The Harper government makes a lot of noise about how sitting on the sidelines is contrary to Canadian values.

But when it comes to taking action to promote responsible trade that is exactly what the Harper government does: sit on the sidelines brandishing an absentee card. Or, worse, it vetoes international action in an ugly and arrogant style.

Harper won’t say, but it looks like Canada will be sitting on the sidelines at the United Nations Rotterdam Convention conference in May, refusing to support listing chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous substance under global trade rules. In so doing, Harper will help Russia continue exporting asbestos to developing countries with no safety controls required.

Canada’s conduct is reprehensible and goes beyond the asbestos issue and into the very guts of who we are as a country.

  • Canada is promoting a global double standard:

The purpose of the Rotterdam Convention is to address the double standard whereby hazardous industries export products – that are banned or severely restricted in Western countries – to developing countries, claiming they are safe. We are protected; they are not.

Chrysotile asbestos is a hazardous substance under Canadian law. But the Canadian government won’t support its listing as a hazardous substance under international law. Chrysotile asbestos, apparently, is hazardous to Canadians but not to folk overseas.

Thus we promote inferior protection for people in developing countries than for ourselves.

To read Ms. Ruff’s complete editorial, visit the Toronto Star: “Canada is on the sidelines when it comes to banning asbestos trade” by Kathleen Ruff 

Kathleen Ruff is co-coordinator of the Rotterdam Convention Alliance, director of RightOnCanada.ca and senior human rights adviser to the Rideau Institute.  Ms. Ruff is also a GBAN Charter Member

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