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Victoria, BRITISH COLUMBIA, August 23, 2010 – In the past few weeks, four groups have joined the growing chorus of nations, organizations and unions calling on Canada to ban the export of asbestos.

First, in July, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a new fact sheet on asbestos. As part of its longstanding commitment to ending asbestos-related disease, the WHO recognizes the most efficient way to eliminate these preventable diseases is quite simple: to stop the use of all types of asbestos. The WHO also reaffirmed that all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic, including the chrysotile mined and exported in Canada.

Then, on August 4, the Asia Regional Conference on Asbestos singled out Canada, calling on a country justifiably proud of its record in defending human rights to stop the "asbestos disease epidemic" sweeping Asia. The majority of asbestos mined in Canada is exported to Asia, where it has been the direct cause of thousands of deaths. The co-signers included labour representatives from Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Timor Leste, Thailand, and Vietnam – who emphasized "the Canadian government must be held to account for the deaths they have caused."

Next, on August 23, the calls came from home. A group of prominent physicians in Quebec added their voice to the chorus, reaffirming what most of the world long ago accepted as scientific fact: there is no such thing as ‘safe asbestos.’ The Quebec doctorsadded that The Chrysotile Institute, an organization dedicated to promoting “white asbestos” and which operates with federal funding, has no "scientific credibility.

On that same day, Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Quebecois and former Leader of the Opposition, rescinded his party's previous support for chrysotile. With the majority of Canada’s asbestos mined in Quebec, this is a significant reversal. Hopefully this signals a general retreat of political support for the Quebec asbestos industry – and the federal government will take notice.

The Canadian Association of Asbestos Victims (CanSAV) has consistently called on the federal government to ban the mining and export of all forms of asbestos. Canada cannot afford to alienate the global community by continuing to deny the facts and export a deadly substance. As these concurrent calls to action demonstrate, the rest of the world’s patience is running out.

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