Canadian Asbestos, Licence to Kill

15 October 2006

Canadian Asbestos, Licence to Kill

Last friday Canada took the lead in blocking a move to have asbestos added to the list of dangerous substances for which importers must be given explicit warning under the Rotterdam Convention. SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard said that it was “unbelievable that in the year 2006 a developed country like Canada continues to close its eyes to the 90,000 deaths provoked every year by asbestos. By doing so it burdens itself with a very heavy responsibility, purely and simply for financial gain.”

Kartika LiotardThe Rotterdam Conventon is an international agreement regulating trade in dangerous substances. On Friday the signatories to the Convention met to consider, amongst other matters, the addition of asbestos to the list of substances covered. Anyone trading in a substance included on the list must issue an explicit warning to importers and the responsible authorities in order that they may decide, in full possession of the facts, whether a particular substance may be imported. “It doesn't go so far as to ban trade in asbestos,” Ms Liotard said, “and the fact that Canada won't even accept this half-measure shows how far we have to go to achieve an asbestos-free world.”

Last week Liotard was the opening speaker at the Amsterdam coference of the European Asbestos Removers' Association (EARA), using the opportunity to argue for a general world-wide ban on the substance, a call also supported by the WHO and ILO. “No-one in the world any longer denies that asbestos is responsible for 90,000 deaths a year,” she said. “Yet Canada, with the support of India, Kyrgizistan and Ukraine, is absolutely not prepared even to make its trade in death more transparent. A scandalous position! I will certainly be looking into how we in Europe should react to this.”

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