Asbestos trader criticized by medical experts and asbestos victims

Media Release
For Immediate Release
September 26, 2011

Asbestos trader criticized by medical experts and asbestos victims

Asbestos trader Baljit Singh Chadha today launched a campaign in Ottawa to win support for his plan to open an underground asbestos mine in Asbestos, Quebec.

Mr. Chadha’s project has been condemned by Quebec’s Directors of Public Health, the Canadian Medical Association, the Quebec Public Health Association, as well the Canadian Cancer Society and others. They have stated that it is impossible to use chrysotile asbestos safely and that the proposed asbestos mine will lead to increased asbestos-related deaths.

In Ottawa today Chadha met further criticism.

“No matter what he claims, Mr. Chadha is ignoring the opinion of medical experts in pursuit of his own private gain,” said Steven Staples, president of the Rideau Institute, after meeting with Mr. Chadha in Ottawa today.

“Just like the tobacco industry, the asbestos industry denies the clear scientific evidence and tries to create doubt,” said Kathleen Ruff, senior human rights adviser to the Rideau Institute, who participated by phone in the meeting with Chadha. “It is shocking that Mr. Chadha, a prominent figure in the Indo-Canadian community, is promoting gross misinformation. By investing and exporting this known deadly carcinogen to be placed in schools and homes in India, he dishonours his and Canada’s reputation.” Ruff was given the 2011 CPHA National Public Health Hero award for exposing the misleading propaganda of the asbestos industry.

According to the Quebec Registry of Lobbyists, Mr. Chadha lobbied the Charest government to obtain a $58 million loan guarantee for his asbestos project. Now, accompanied by his public relations agent, he is lobbying in Ottawa.

The Quebec government agreed to give Mr. Chadha the $58 million loan guarantee, setting a deadline of July 1, 2011, for him to produce his required $25 million financing. Mr. Chadha failed and asked that the deadline be extended to August 15, 2011. He then asked for a further extension to October 1. The government complied each time.

The Opposition Parti Québécois has expressed concern that Mr. Chadha has raised funds for the Charest government and is a personal friend of Premier Charest.

In addition to this financial support from the Charest government, the Chrysotile Institute, which is the registered lobby group for the Quebec asbestos industry, has received over a million dollars from the Harper government over the past six years. It also receives funds from the Quebec government.

October 1 is clearly an important date for the investors seeking to profit from the sale of asbestos. But it is also an important date for many asbestos victims who are seeking to prevent further asbestos deaths.

Stacy Cattran and her sister Leah Nielsen, whose father died from asbestos, have organized a Walk to take place in Sarnia, Ontario, on October 1 to remember those who have died from asbestos and to demand an end to Canada’s export of asbestos. Victims from the Sarnia area, where many have died from asbestos, and victims from other parts of Canada will be participating.

Says Cattran, “We will win this fight because we are motivated by the love and loss of our family members and by what is right and not by greed.”

–30–

 

For more information contact:

Kathleen Ruff (250) 847-1848; kruff@bulkley.net

Stacy Cattran (519) 341-3642; scattran@gmail.com

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