December 5th, 2011

Harper government plans to increase asbestos exports to India

CEPA Trade Negotiators reveal deliberate strategy to eliminate tariffs on dangerous exports

OTTAWA - The Official Opposition has learned that the Harper government is trying to eliminate trade tariffs on exports of lethal Canadian asbestos to India.

“It is a disgrace that the Harper government has opposed the global effort to ban this substance,” said Official Opposition International Trade critic Brian Masse (Windsor West). “Now we find out Conservatives are actually attempting to expand Canadian asbestos sales to the developing world. This represents another sad chapter for the Harper government.”

In response to questions from Masse, the Chief Negotiator for the Canada-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement admitted Canada is currently working to eliminate tariffs on asbestos exports to India. Currently there is a 10 per cent duty on asbestos exports to India, the world’s second largest consumer of asbestos.

“We already dump hundreds of thousands of tons of asbestos each year into developing nations – and now we want to make it easier for asbestos magnates to do so?” said MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre). “This is deplorable and Canadians need to let their government know they will not put up with this any longer.”

The Canadian government has long been criticized for its support of asbestos exports to countries with few safeguards in place to protect workers. Despite being asked repeatedly in recent weeks about asbestos in the House of Commons, the government never mentioned their plan to increase asbestos trade to the developing world through axing tariffs.

“To actively pursue exporting this deadly product to countries that have little to no protection for workers is reprehensible,” said Masse. “It’s time for our government to acknowledge reality and develop a plan to help transition asbestos workers into new, sustainable industries.”