During the recent Conservative Party convention, Prime Minister Stephen Harper loudly proclaimed that “Conservative values are Canadian values”. Two asbestos-related developments this week prove Harper wrong.
Yesterday, Harper visited Thetford Mines, the centre of Canada’s asbestos mining empire. Earlier in the week, the Conservative government had blocked the listing of chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical under the Rotterdam Convention.
Chrysotile asbestos causes lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. Canada tightly controls the use of asbestos in Canada. Billions of dollars will be spent over the next two decades to rid Parliament Buildings in Ottawa of asbestos. But Canada exports the deadly product to developing country such as India, where it causes considerable pain and misery to populations with limited access to healthcare. Such hypocrisy.
Especially disturbing is the fact that the export violates some of Canada’s core values, including: compassion, responsibility and accountability.
Human rights activists and experts have repeatedly condemned Canada for the deadly export. Some have even called us “the ugly Canadians”. Still, the Conservatives have repeatedly shrugged off the criticism. They don’t care, as long as Canada makes money.
In an earlier post, I speculated that, with a majority backing him at home, Harper may finally become a compassionate and more engaged world leader. I was wrong. For now, he has proved only that Conservative values aren’t Canadian values aren’t global values. If they were, we’d stop mining and exporting the deadly product, whatever the political cost.