Welcome To The Club

In 2004, and then again in 2006, the NDP told the Sierra Club of Canada that they would not support a ban on exporting asbestos, expressing a concern for “workers and families that derive their livelihoods from this long-standing industry.” (In the latter year, their answer was a key contributer to the Green Party’s platform receiving a higher ranking than the NDP’s.) Thank goodness Pat Martin and Libby Davies have finally succeeded in convincing their party to reverse what was, in their words, a position that supported the exportation of human misery. To hear them explain why, it’s hard to understand what took them so long.

The NDP is calling on the federal government to shut down Canada’s asbestos industry and scrap “horrifying” regulations that allow the use of the cancer-causing mineral in children’s toys and other products.

New Democratic MPs Pat Martin and Libby Davies released test results yesterday showing that asbestos is present in CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit, a popular new children’s toy made in China.

“Asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known and you would have to be insane to put asbestos in children’s toys,” Mr. Martin said. “It would be like putting razor blades in Halloween apples. So what does that say about a government that would allow it?”

Mr. Martin said new regulations under Canada’s Hazardous Materials Act allow asbestos-laden products “used by a child in education or play.”

“There is no safe level of asbestos,” [Ms. Davies] said. “There’s no question that it’s a carcinogen…We are exporting human misery at a staggering rate. Canada should be joining the international community to stop the production of asbestos and its export.”

Amen. Now that there are two parties who recognize this reality, hopefully the Liberals and Conservatives will soon have equally virtuous about-faces.

3 thoughts on “Welcome To The Club

  1. Chris,

    While absolutely correct in assessing that the NDP should have been for this in the first place, I understand the bind the NDP has been in over certain environmental issues. Ish Theilheimer wrote an interesting editorial on the subject that I think encapsulates the bind the NDP has been in. Just disregard the comment he makes about the Greens ;)


  2. Thanks for the link Ryan! I think Theilheimer gets it right at the end when he argues that social democrats (though I think this applies to all political parties) must not only take positions but also work to educate the public on the merits and necessity of their proposals. That was the Reform Party’s approach, and they went from non-existent to government in practically no time.

    His comment about the Greens (sorry, tried to ignore it, couldn’t) is, IMHO, already out of date. Regardless of what you think of the actual policies, it’s hard to argue that Vision Green isn’t a collection of “broad-based [policies] that speak to ordinary Canadians.” Maybe I should send him a copy. ;-)

    BTW, it was neat to see the reference to Bill Phipps on your blog. He’s a friend and I donated to his campaign when he ran against Stephen Harper. The man who did the fundraising appeal at the campaign event I attended was an up-and-coming city councillor named Jack Layton. ;-)

  3. I agree on the point about the Reform party. Seems to me as if the NDP, and I think Greens to an extent (though I do see a little more grassroots work on their end) need to get back to their roots. The NDP really needs a little of that CCF democratic-activist mentality to really appeal to people, as in the case of asbestos as you’ve mentioned. It’s the stuff party faithful already agree on, but for some reason the party itself is afraid of its effect on the polls. Isn’t the environment #1 on the priority list for Canadians, anyway? What is there to be afraid of?

    Bill Phipps is an inspirational figure here in Calgary, a place that is bereft of high profile activists. I’m pretty sure he could have beaten Harper in any city but Calgary. Go figure.

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