Asbestos ban cheered by Manitoba crusader's daughter
Asbestos contaminates tens of thousands of homes, buildings and kills thousands every year
Raven-Dominique Gobeil, whose mother was an anti-asbestos advocate until her death last Christmas Eve, is relieved the federal government is finally banning the deadly substance in Canada.
A known carcinogen, asbestos contaminates tens of thousands homes and buildings across the country and kills thousands every year.
On Thursday, the federal government announced a plan to ban asbestos in new building construction and products like brake pads — but not until 2018.
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Raven Thundersky, who was sick with lung cancer for over 10 years before her death on Christmas Eve 2015, had previously lost five family members to cancer.
They believed it was caused by asbestos-contaminated insulation used for many years in government-built homes on First Nations reserves.
Thundersky had led the charge for a federal inquiry into the use and safety of the insulation, which went by the brand name Zonolite.
- Raven Thundersky, indigenous health advocate, dies at 50
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Gobeil said her mother would be happy to know her death was not in vain.
"I think she would be over the top, honestly. She was very passionate about this issue," Gobeil said. "The product is no longer going to be used. I think she would just be happy to know that her work actually meant something for the greater good of Canada.
"We had to watch so much of our family members die [and] I would never wish that on anyone."
Canada's slow response to bringing in new asbestos rules and regulations angers others who have been exposed, including former NDP MP Pat Martin, who worked in an asbestos mine and has long lobbied for a ban.
"Canada conveniently waited until the last remaining asbestos mine was closed before they found the political courage to ban the stuff. So I am not sure I am ready to award any gold stars for doing the right thing," he said.
"I think that is one of the reasons why it has taken so long for the government to implement a comprehensive ban, because they can't figure out a way to protect themselves, defend themselves from what could be the mother of all class-action lawsuits."
Asbestos has been condemned by the World Health Organization and is already banned in some 50 countries around the world.
Canada closed its last asbestos mine 10 years ago but asbestos is still not formally listed as a "hazardous substance." That designation will be made next year.