'I could get myself in a lot of trouble for this' - Macleans.ca

‘I could get myself in a lot of trouble for this’


Two Conservative MPs call for an end to asbestos mining.

Conservative MP Dona Cadman of British Columbia told Canwest News Service Thursday she would love to see asbestos mining operations in Quebec shut down, adding “I could get myself in a lot of trouble for this.”

Ontario Conservative MP Pat Davidson told the Sarnia Observer last week — after the Canadian Medical Association called for a ban on asbestos use and exports — that “I’m definitely not supporting the mining or exporting of asbestos.”


‘I could get myself in a lot of trouble for this’

  1. I think Dona Cadman may be the one untouchable backbencher in the Conservative caucus. (Well I guess so is Rob Anders but for very different reasons)

  2. So, how important is it to them? Willing to cross Harper; willing to cross the floor? Or just willing to speak a paragraph aloud and have fingers slapped?

  3. It's a shame, because asbestos really is a useful material for a number of applications. It's just that you can't ensure that it will always be handled, applied of disposed of safely, particularly if it leaves our borders.

  4. It's a shame, because asbestos really is a useful material for a number of applications. It's just that you can't ensure that it will always be handled, applied and disposed of safely, particularly if it leaves our borders.

    • Please name a safe use for this useful material for which it is cost effective (after the costs of safe extraction, processing and eventual disposal procedures have been added)

      • Hey NIYourBY,

        For Canada:

        While alternative products are being developed to replace asbestos, products sold today containing asbestos are regulated under the Hazardous Products Act. Asbestos can be used safely, and public concern has led to improved product design and manufacture. Asbestos is now better encapsulated and sealed to reduce the escape of fibres.

        Asbestos is valuable in many applications because it has been difficult to find comparable substitute materials. For example, it is still an important component of brake lining and clutch facings.


        • Thanks for your example Dot, virtually every major automotive manufacturer has stopped using asbestos in brake linings. The cost is not worth it, even though it is allowed.

          • "virtually"

            And in developing countries, the economics may be quite different – especially if the asbestos is being used for concrete for water/sewage pipes where the difference between having clean water and water borne diseases is quite high.

            That's why i bristle when people advocate the BANNING of substances for developing countries (say uranium to China where respiratory disease/death form coal fired generation are extremely high) when they are comfortably enjoying the products of its use in Canada, or through direct employment in its generating facilities, previously, or currently.

          • Agreed. We all know how the DDT ban worked for some poor countries. Forced them to use more expensive (and more toxic) chemicals or none at all. Great if you're a mosquito or a tsetse fly. Not so great if your just an average 3rd World resident trying to avoid malaria.

          • What epidemic is asbestos preventing?

          • What's preventing people in developing countries from drilling wells for fresh water?

          • There's no need for asbestos in water/sewer pipes. In fact, that's one of last the asbestiferous (?) concrete uses you'd want, since the running water would slowly work some of the asbestos out over time…. there are cheaper synthetic fibres on the market to reinforce concrete if the utility wants to avoid steel reinforcing.

          • I doubt many developing countries have "utilities" in the Western way. Have you ever seen how some developing countries build clay construction bricks, for example? You can't apply N American construction costs, manufacturing methods to low tech developing countries. Building concrete sewer pipes, for example, in N America and shipping them overseas would be hugely expensive. And building plants locally with the newer technologies would probably not be feasible.

            I don't know the specifics, and I'm not sure it's used in concrete (think i read that somewhere before)but it's a cost/benefit thing. You have to stretch minimum resources to the maximum benefit. That's why I believe there still is a market for some forms of asbestos.

          • I am more than willing to believe you, Dot, that there remain beneficial uses for asbestos, especially in regions where alternatives become prohibitive. But those regions are also LEAST likely to be able to protect the workers and others from the harmful effects. Add it all up, and maybe these newer apparently "prohibitive" alternates start to win in the risk-benefit comparisons.

          • But, as the libertarian that you are might say, that is their sovereign right to decide for themselves, particularly if the countries supplying the commodity have no banned its use completely. Rather patronizing, don't you think?

          • Well, sigh, I was trying to have a civil conversation with Dot, in some twisted triumph of hope over experience. And, in yet another such triumph, here I go again…

            When people suffer "costs" without their consent so that others may reap the "benefit," that is not "sovereign rights" blah-blahs, that is simply unjust. This applies to excessive taxation in an overly-generous welfare state, and it applies when someone suffers ill effects (and no benefits) of someone else's decisions. Like, say, manipulating asbestos with no regard to safe handling and no regard to protecting others from exposure.

          • Well, what you are wrongly assuming, with all due respect, is that the costs of having an unregulated system of industrial production to the same standards of north America, exceeds the benefit (not to the industrialists) but rather to the general population that benefits from that product.

            Using your same logic, we should ban coal sales to China from BC because BC will not burn coal for energy production. Yet, we know that burning coal in steel plants or electricity generating plants economically benefits the Chinese owners of those plants, while at the same time polluting the air and adversely affecting those who live downwind of the plants, while also providing an economic engine of growth. That is because China does not have the same levels of air quality standards as N. America

          • The only two known asbestos health risk is inhalation of fibers causing lung cancer and slivers in the skin causing warts. Nothing even a third world country can't protect its workers from.

            And this whole debate reminds me of the Kyoto debate. Canada only produces 10% of the world's asbestos, 4th behind Russia who produces 40%, China and glorious nation Kazakhstan. Of the four, which one do you think has the best and safest extraction and transportation practices.

            So why again do you want to stop the production of the best and safest asbestos in the world?

          • Ok, so you are not actually supporting Crit who was claiming lots of uses even accounting for safe processing and disposal… you are advocating that even in the absence of a capacity for safe disposal, in the absence of proper training, equipment for workers, indeed even the absence of informed consent among the workers that you support supplying 3rd world factory owners with a product that you and they know will kill many of their workers and customers.

          • Nice try Stu.

      • I see you've had quite the discussion here. When you look at ACM products where the asbestos is completely encapsulated within another material, like well designed vinyl asbestos industrial floor tiles, the products are completely safe unless they are sanded or crushed by workers who don't know what they are doing.

        Safe and cheap extraction and processing is easy enough, because the manufacturer controls the safety of these processes. The problem is that 20 years later, when the tiles on the factory floor are replaced, uninformed workers might dispose of the tiles in an unsafe manner (by causing the release of harmful dust when the tiles are destroyed).

        The "shame" I mentioned in my original post is that "you can't ensure that it will always be handled, applied and disposed of safely". It's not so much the cost of disposal that is expensive (they can be safely buried in a landfill) it's just that the workers have to know what they are doing. Because there is no real way to control this risk, ACMs have been banned in Europe.

  5. I probably left a "not" out somewhere in the first paragraph, but it's late, and you probably figured out what I was tring to say. Adios.

  6. So why again do you want to stop the production of the best and safest asbestos in the world?

    Well, I'm still unsure whether this is totally true or not, but I think the counter argument is pretty obvious: Because the "best and safest asbestos in the world" is still worse and less safe than "not asbestos".

    • Some people make the same argument for not immunizing their children from measles.

      You have to look at both the macro and the micro. The latter is easy to see. The former, more difficult.

      • Sure, my point is simply that "we make the safest X in the world" is a silly argument. We'd almost certainly make a safer and better regulated version of DOZENS of substances than Russia or China do, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't ban some of those substances. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

        Now, whether asbestos falls into that category is another argument all together, but "we shouldn't ban dangerous substance X because our version is less dangerous than other countries' versions" is just inane.

        • Is is not completely banned in Canada. see above.

          Secondly, we smelt lead in Canada, and sell it internationally. But at the same time we have banned lead in paint and gasolene. Some countries no doubt have lesser standards, and maybe use leaded gasolene or paint. Or they take the lead and use it in plants that release a lot of it into the environement through flue stacks. By your logic, we should therefore ban all lead sales.

          Using asbestos in hard goods such as concrete, flooring products etc is quite different than using asbestos as insulation in walls.

          • I can now understand the CPC perspective on global citizenship:

            "Well they want it even if it kills them, so who's to tell them if it is right or wrong, even though we don't touch the stuff with a ten-foot pole. And why can't we use their ignorance to make some cash. It's a free world."

            There is something, ironically, very unchristian about this…

            The question I pose to Dot and any other supporter of "safe" asbestos use: since it is apparently cost-effective, why don't you live in an asbestos-laden house and get back to us in 20 years, and tell give us the cost-benefit analysis.

          • There is something, ironically, very unchristian about this…

            I agree. Making inferences and statements from a position of ignorance, and piety.

          • Uses for asbestos:
            drywall and joint compound
            mud and texture coats
            vinyl floor tiles, sheeting, adhesives
            roofing tars, felts, siding, and shingles
            "transite" panels, siding, countertops, and pipes
            brake pads and shoes
            clutch plates
            stage curtains
            fire blankets
            interior fire doors
            fireproof clothing for firefighters
            thermal pipe insulation

            Now some products have reasonable alternatives that are either more expensive or have a fraction of asbestos' lifespan. However in some cases, like fireproofing, there's no viable alternative.

        • Where I was getting at is that instead of handing over our 10% market share to the communists and make little to no difference at all on asbestos related illnesses, we should focus on pushing the adoption of stricter extraction and handling practices.

  7. Sounds like Dot's senate seat hinges on those asbestos stocks staying high …

    • You still living in your van?

  8. It is deplorable that Canada continues to export asbestos to third world countries. Dona Cadman should continue to voice her opinion on the subject , without the fear of reprimand from Harper. Keep up the great work Dona. There are many Canadians cheering for you!