Politics

Duceppe wades into asbestos mining debate

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe says it's time to take a closer look at the safety of asbestos mining.
Gilles Duceppe is calling for a thorough review of the asbestos mining industry. ((Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press))

Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe says it's time to take a closer look at the safety of asbestos mining.

At a campaign stop Sunday, Duceppe told reporters there is growing opposition to the industry and there needs to be a thorough review. He said he supports calls for a Quebec legislature committee on the subject.

The comments come at a crossroads for the embattled industry.

Quebec's Liberal government must decide whether to provide a loan guarantee that would extend the life of the Jeffrey Mine, one of Canada's last remaining asbestos mines.

Duceppe waded into the debate during a campaign stop in Quebec's Eastern Townships, not far from the mine.

The comments represent a change in position for Duceppe. Two weeks ago, he said asbestos is safely used in Quebec and doesn't pose a health problem.

Quebec politicians have traditionally supported the industry, though it has been dealt several blows in recent months.

The powerful Confederation of National Trade Unions voted to withdraw its support of the industry, and the federal government cut funding to one of the country's main asbestos lobby groups.

Asbestos has been linked to cancer, although supporters say the product can be safely used under certain conditions.