Minister Misleads Committee!
Conservatives, Liberals and Bloc MPs have teamed up to avoid voting on funding asbestos.
Have you ever heard something and just couldn't believe what you heard? It
happened to me today at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources Committee.
Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources and MP for the asbestos mining region of Québec told the committee that Chrysotile Institute is not a lobby group. I was stunned. Did he really say that? So I checked and yes, he did say it!
Here's why I was so stunned. According to the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada's website, the Chrysotile Institute has an Active Registration Number (# 781292-13573-5). They have even reported to the Commissioner that they receive $250,000 annually from Natural Resources Canada - one of the federal departments it says it lobby's.
Paradis also suggested that the thousands of people in developing countries
who are suffering from asbestos-induced illness are at fault for not
following the proper safety protocols. Keep in mind that before becoming
Natural Resources Minister, he was the minister responsible for the
multi-million program to remove asbestos from the Parliament buildings.
I guess the lesson here is that it's okay for third world workers to breathe in asbestos, but not Members of Parliament.
Even though widespread use of asbestos in Canada ended decades ago, 60%
industrial deaths and a larger percentage in Québec are still being
by exposure to asbestos. Faced with pressure from many countries and
health organizations, the industry changed its name to the Chrysotile
Apparently the industry doesn't know its Shakespeare:
"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet"
What matters is what something is, not what it is called.
It was standing room only in Room 317 of West Block - an old rundown section with a sign warning people of the presence of asbestos in the walls. It is cramped unattractive and does not have the cameras for web casting meetings like some of the rooms in Centre Block. In my experience, the meetings the government really doesn't want the public to know about are stuck in this corner.
It worked. The crowd in the room was mostly staff. Only myself and three reporters were there to observe.
Why are politicians so idiotically supportive of a mine that ships death around the world. The investors and workers could have been pensioned off or new opportunities found decades ago. Yet, here we are in 2010 using taxpayer money to support a product we all know is so dangerous we won't touch it. What moral values do these politicians have if they could get up and walk out rather than be seen as voting against asbestos.
Round two will be Tuesday March 23rd when the committee resumes. Mr. Martin will have the floor and it will be interesting to see how the other parties try to insulate themselves from the moral obligation to take responsibility.