Montreal

Charest may face asbestos protests in India

Quebec Premier Jean Charest will face protests over the province's continued exportation of asbestos when he arrives in India on Sunday, according to reports.

Groups plan to denounce Quebec exports, report says

Quebec Premier Jean Charest will face protests over the province’s continued exportation of asbestos when he arrives in India on Sunday, according to a Montreal newspaper report.

Groups including unions and public health organizations are planning protests during Charest’s week-long economic mission, says the report published in La Presse on Friday.

The groups will reportedly include employees working in asbestos-treatment plants as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Centre of Bombay and the Occupational Health and Safety Association of Ahmedabad.

The protesters are said to have requested a meeting with Charest, but it is unclear whether he has accepted. News of the protests comes after an international group of scientists wrote to Charest, urging him to put an end to Quebec's asbestos exports.

In a letter dated Thursday, more than 100 scientists from 28 countries called on the premier to take heed of scientific opinion that all forms of asbestos — also known as chrysotile —present a danger to public health.

Several countries, especially poorer ones, still import asbestos from Canada, despite numerous studies linking it to health hazards, including cancer.

Asbestos, recognized for its heat- and fire-resistant qualities, was widely used in Canada and around the world between the 1950s and the 70s, often as insulation.

Thetford Mines, Que., is home to the only asbestos mine still operating in Canada.

Charest’s trip to India will be his second economic mission to the country.

The premier is expected to inaugurate the province’s offices in Mumbai and will also take part in an environmental conference, the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit.

with files from The Canadian Press