Minister Paradis misrepresenting Expert Panel’s asbestos report, says Panel Chair

Thu, May 7, 2009


MAY 4, 2009

Ottawa, ON – Public Works Minister, Christian Paradis, is misrepresenting the report of an International Panel of Experts on asbestos, says the Panel Chair, Dr. Trevor Ogden.

Speaking on a recent national CBC program, The Current, Ogden said that the Minister “is wrong” in telling media that he Panel did not agree. In fact, all Panel members agreed that “exposure to commercial chrysotile causes cancer,” said Ogden.

Dr Ogden described as “particularly objectionable” the minister’s statements suggesting some panel members endorsed the possibility of “safe use” while others said “not to touch it”. Ogden said “The panel did not discuss whether controlled use was a satisfactory policy – this was totally outside the panel’s brief.”

In an interview with the Globe & Mail, Ogden stated that he thought the reason the government suppressed the report for so long was that “there were interests in continuing Canadian production of chrysotile and they saw the report as a threat.”

Ogden, who is editor-in-chief of the U.K. scientific publication, The Annals of Occupational Hygiene, criticized Health Canada, who commissioned the report, for not publishing it more than one year after they received it. “It is inexcusable that the Minister is going around talking about the policy implications of the report, when the report has not been published,” he said.

The report was obtained through Access to Information by Montreal journalist, André Noël. Contrary to its normal practice, Health Canada has not posted the report on its website. The Rideau Institute on International Affairs has posted the report on its website,

“We have known about the hazards of asbestos exposure for nearly 70 years, and the evidence today that exposure to asbestos of all forms causes cancer and asbestosis is incontrovertible,” said Panel member Dr. Leslie Stayner, Director of the University of Illinois School of Public Health. “Governments that attempt to suppress science and scientists do so at the peril of damaging their credibility in the international community. I call on the Canadian government to ban asbestos, as the World Health Organization has urged.”

“The tragedy of disease from the use and production of asbestos in the West is now being repeated in parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America,” said Kathleen Ruff, Senior advisor on human rights to the Rideau Institute and author of Exporting Harm: How Canada Markets Asbestos to the Developing World.

Ruff, who has been monitoring the Health Canada asbestos report for the past year and a half also noted that, “Canada’s reputation has been tarnished around the world because it has repeatedly stood in the way of ensuring asbestos is labelled as a hazardous material.”

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For further information:
Dr Trevor Ogden, Panel Chair, 44 1235 534380 (United Kingdom, +5 Hrs), or
Dr Leslie Stayner, Panel Member, cell (312) 927-5554
Kathleen Ruff, senior advisor on human rights, Rideau Institute, (250) 847-1848 or
Anthony Salloum, program director, Rideau Institute, (613) 565-9449 or

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