Ask leading medical doctor and Conservative MP, Dr. Kellie Leitch: Please stop supporting the export of deadly asbestos

Fri, Aug 5, 2011


Please write to Dr Leitch. You can also phone and ask to speak with her. Ask her to respect her medical code of ethics and stop supporting deadly asbestos. Please insist that she give you a response. She has a democratic and ethical obligation to answer.

Email: Phone: (705) 435-1809. Fax: (613) 992-2164.

Dr Kellie Leitch, MD, MBA, FRCS (C), is the newly elected Conservative MP for Simcoe-Grey in Ontario. She is a leading physician, surgeon and academic who has been given prestigious awards for her leadership to promote public health, particularly the health of children. So why is she supporting the export of deadly asbestos to harm people overseas?

We are appealing to Dr Leitch to support the position of Canada’s leading medical and public health authorities to end the mining, use and export of asbestos.

Two Conservative MPs have already shown integrity and said that they cannot, in good conscience support asbestos, but Dr Leitch, so far, has not responded to our urgent appeal for her support. We believe that her medical code of ethics requires that she, without hesitation, put the protection of health ahead of political interests.

Below is a letter of appeal sent to Dr Leitch. Dr Leitch’s office say that Dr Leitch has referred the appeal to the Minister. The Minister, of course, supports asbestos.

What we want to know is: Does Dr Leitch support health or asbestos?


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August 2, 2011


Dr Kellie Leitch, MD, MBA, FRCS (C), Order of Ontario

Member of Parliament for Simcoe-Grey, Ontario

Dear Dr Leitch:

Congratulations on your election. I was very pleased to read about your commitment to promoting public health.

I have been working with leading medical experts, public health professionals, prestigious scientists, respected academics and victims of asbestos in Quebec, across Canada and around the world for the past three or more years to end Canada’s export of asbestos and to deal with the epidemic of asbestos-related disease and death that continue to increase in Ontario and across Canada.

I am writing to you to appeal for your support for the recommendation of the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Public Health Association and all of Canada’s leading medical associations that the use and export of all forms of asbestos must stop (see list below).

As you probably are well aware, chrysotile asbestos (which Canada exports to developing countries) represents 100% of the global asbestos trade and it represents 95% of all the asbestos sold in the world over the past century. The scientific consensus is clear that chrysotile asbestos is a deadly carcinogen, which causes mesothelioma, lung cancer, other cancers and asbestosis, and safe use is not possible.

There is not a single reputable scientific or medical organisation that supports the position of the asbestos industry that chrysotile asbestos can be safely used and that exposure to high levels of chrysotile asbestos (1 f/cc) causes no harm to health.

The Chrysotile Institute, which is the registered lobby organisation for the sellers of asbestos, has zero scientific credibility and puts forward deadly misinformation that asbestos can be safely used.

I was recently given the National Public Health Hero Award by the Canadian Public Health Association, specifically for exposing the deadly misinformation disseminated by the asbestos industry (see below).

We are calling on all Members of Parliament, of every political party, to support the call by the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Public Health Association and the World Health Organization to end all use of asbestos. Asbestos should be treated as a health issue, not as a political issue and we are calling for your support on this crucial public health issue.

We were extremely happy to receive the support of Ontario Conservative MP Ed Holder, as well as the support of Ontario Conservative MP Pat Davidson, who represents the constituency of Sarnia-Lambton, where so many Canadians have died from asbestos-related diseases.

We were particularly grateful to Mr Holder for his statement that “Mr Holder cannot in good conscience support asbestos.”

As a medical doctor, you have a far higher duty than others to put the protection of health ahead of all other concerns. You have a duty to respect the clear scientific evidence regarding asbestos and to reject the self-serving, deadly misinformation of those who profit from selling asbestos.

You would not expose Canadian children to asbestos harm. It is ethically indefensible to expose children in developing countries to asbestos harm, by placing Canadian asbestos in their homes and schools, all the while falsely assuring them that the asbestos will not harm them.

It is my hope, therefore, that you, like Ed Holder, will follow your conscience.

Presently, you are supporting a policy that disseminates dangerous, false medical information about asbestos harm and that promotes, with the help of the official emblem of the Canadian government and the Canadian flag, the use of asbestos in developing countries as an allegedly safe product.

Dr Leitch, you are, I believe, the leading medical professional in the Conservative caucus. You have been given prestigious awards for your leadership in promoting public health, particularly the health of children. It is incompatible with your medical status and your medical career to collude with the promotion of asbestos disease.

I ask you, please Dr Leitch, do the honourable thing.

Please put your ethical duty ahead of personal gain and political ambition.

Please give me your response.

With immense hope,

Kathleen Ruff, author, Exporting Harm: How Canada markets asbestos to the developing world


The Canadian Medical Association

The Canadian Cancer Society

The Lung Association of Canada

The Quebec Medical Association

The Canadian Public Health Association

The Canadian Nurses Association

The Quebec Association for Public Health

The Association of physicians specializing in community Health of Québec

The Lung Association of Quebec

The National Specialty Society for Community Medicine

The Quebec Association for Occupational Hygiene, Health & Safety

The College of Family Physicians of Canada

The Quebec College of Family Physicians

The International Commission on Occupational Health

The International Social Security Association

The World Health Organization

The International Labour Organization

The Canadian Labour Congress

The International Trade Union Confederation, representing 175 million workers in 151 countries



3) CANADIAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION: 2011 National Public Health Hero Award

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