Quebec government asked to stop assisting asbestos lobby to harm populations overseas

Mon, Sep 28, 2020

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Kathleen Ruff,

In a letter sent to Quebec Premier François Legault on September 21, 2020, Kathleen Ruff, recipient of the medal of the Quebec National Assembly, and Dr. Jean Zigby, Past President, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, call on the Quebec government to take action to de-register the international asbestos lobby organisation (the International Chrysotile Association, ICA) as a non-profit organisation incorporated under the Quebec Companies Act.

Non-profit organisations incorporated in Quebec are required by law to serve the public interest. The Quebec government states that non-profit organisations incorporated in Quebec are organisations that carry out moral or altruistic activities. The ICA violates these requirements. Its activities harm the public interest. It disseminates false information denying the harmfulness of chrysotile asbestos, that is rejected by every reputable scientific body in the world. The ICA endangers human life and causes widespread suffering and death.

Quebec law requires that non-profit organisations incorporated in Quebec not harm the public interest

In their letter the writers note that the Quebec Companies Act allows the Registrar of Companies, who comes under Quebec’s Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, to ask a judge of the Superior Court to annul the registration of a non-profit organisation for reasons of the public interest (Article 231). They point out that there is a legal precedent in which the Registrar successfully asked a judge to de-register a non-profit organisation whose activities went against the public interest (Les amis de toutes les minorités sexuelles which promoted pedophilia).

In November 2019 scientists and organisations around the world wrote to Premier Legault calling on Quebec to respect the lives of people overseas and stop aiding the asbestos lobby to promote use of asbestos in developing countries – an activity that is illegal in Quebec. The Premier said he was troubled by these facts and that his government had mandated an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate and report on the issue of the health risks of chrysotile asbestos. The Commission has now published its report. The Commission totally rejected the misinformation disseminated by the ICA and called on the Quebec government to take action to protect the people of Quebec from asbestos.

Do the lives of people in developing countries matter?

The International Asbestos Association moved from France to Quebec in 1997, when France banned asbestos. In 2005 it changed its name to the International Chrysotile Association in order to avoid using the word asbestos. Chrysotile asbestos represents 95% of all asbestos sold over the past century. For more than two decades, chrysotile asbestos represents the only kind of asbestos sold.

For the past twenty-three years the ICA, operating out of Quebec, has played a leading role in obstructing bans on asbestos in developing countries and in sabotaging protections against asbestos harm under the UN Rotterdam Convention.

At the moment Quebec is employing a double standard and is treating the lives of people overseas as having less value than the people of Quebec. This is bringing dishonour on Quebec and is against the public interest.

People around the world are calling on Quebec to show solidarity with populations overseas and stop aiding the immoral, deadly activities of the asbestos lobby.

Will Quebec take action?

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