Quebec opposition leaders take aim at Liberals over asbestos mine decision
Weeks after the Liberals re-launched Quebec's asbestos industry with a $58-million loan to the Jeffrey Mine, the Coalition Avenir Quebec vowed to put an end to the "morally and scientifically indefensible" product.
Parti Quebecois Leader Pauline Marois also criticized the Liberal Party on Saturday for its decision to loan investors tens of millions to re-open the mine in Asbestos, Que., about 160 km east of Montreal.
"We were very shocked by Mr. Charest's decision to announce an investment without holding a debate," she told reporters on the campaign trail Saturday.
She said the PQ would hold a "societal debate" in Quebec's legislature on the fate of the province's asbestos industry.
CAQ Leader Francois Legault said that no debate was necessary.
Legault told reporters on Saturday that if elected, the CAQ wouldn't cancel the $58-million loan, but would phase out the exportation of asbestos altogether.
"(Asbestos) does not conform to the values of Quebecers," Legault said. "We have to turn the page."
The Liberal Party announced at the end of June that it was going to help finance the re-opening of the Jeffrey Mine. The loan is expected to help keep the mine in operation for at least 20 years and create 425 full-time jobs.
In July, an international group of scientists issued a statement calling for a global ban on asbestos mining. Asbestos, which is often used as insulation for electrical appliances and for buildings, is known to cause cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and other diseases.
The use of asbestos is restricted in Canada but it is still mined in Quebec and exported mainly to developing countries. Quebec's asbestos industry has been criticized for exporting asbestos to developing countries such as India. More than 50 countries have banned asbestos.
Asbestos advocates say that the material is safe if handled properly. However, critics claim that workers in developing countries do not work under sufficiently rigorous conditions to be kept safe from the material's harmful effects.