Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting one of many petitions from my riding of Hamilton Mountain today that calls on the House of Commons to ban asbestos in all its forms and issue a just transition program for asbestos workers and the communities in which they work.
This petition is particularly apropos today when the leading asbestos exporter is in town asking for $58 million from the Quebec and Canadian governments to develop a new asbestos mine. This is despite the fact that we know that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer that the world has ever known. It is banned for use in our country, yet Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos. It is more than ironic that we are taking asbestos out of Parliament buildings because of its deadly nature, yet we continue to export asbestos to other countries in the world.
To boot, as the petitioners rightly point out, Canada spends millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry, which the signators refer to as “corporate welfare for corporate serial killers”.
It is time Canada started acting with integrity on this issue. The petitioners call upon the government to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam convention.
I know that the rules of the House do not allow me to endorse this petition, but let me conclude by saying that for the first time I find myself agreeing with former Conservative cabinet minister, Chuck Strahl, who is now joining the chorus of Canadians urging the Prime Minister to move on chrysotile asbestos.