Asbestos: The issue that just won’t go away for Duceppe

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Asbestos: The issue that just won’t go away for Duceppe


By Monique Muise, Postmedia News April 13, 2011    


RIMOUSKI, Que. — It was an issue the Bloc Quebecois was likely hoping to avoid during this federal election, but it has dogged Gilles Duceppe on the campaign trail for three full days now: What to do about Quebec’s asbestos industry?

On Sunday, Duceppe told reporters he was in agreement with a recent request made by the provincial Parti Quebecois to have a parliamentary commission look into the question of asbestos safety in the province.

When pressed to clarify if he believed asbestos — a fibrous mineral which has been linked to numerous cancers — can be produced and used safely within Quebec, Duceppe did not give a clear answer, instead reiterating that the government should rely on scientific research and experts to answer that question.

That drew major criticism from Conservative incumbent Christian Paradis, who said Duceppe had flip-flopped on the issue and that his comments could do major harm to asbestos producers.

Less than 24 hours later, Duceppe was asked again to clarify his position, and this time stated firmly that the Bloc is “not afraid” of asbestos, and is convinced it can be produced and exported safely.

“This is not the same thing as the asbestos of the 1940s. It’s very different,” he said during a campaign stop in St.-Jean-Port-Joli, Que., on Monday.

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