Tag Archives: crime

The deadly asbestos trade


Asbestos is a mineral with long, thin fibrous crystals. The word asbestos (῾ἀσβεστος) is derived from a Greek adjective meaning inextinguishable. The Greeks termed asbestos the miracle mineral because of its soft and pliant properties, as well as its ability to withstand heat.

Asbestos is known to have toxicity. The inhalation of toxic asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis (also called pneumoconiosis). Since the mid 1980s, many uses of asbestos have been banned in many countries.

—–

Canada’s deadly trade in asbestos

by Mark Bourrie

Canada is starting work this summer on a billion dollar project to renovate its parliamentary buildings and cleanse them of asbestos, which has been found to cause cancer.

The project will take six years to complete but, in the meantime, Canadian government agents are still pushing exports of the fibre. Canada even has gone so far as to argue a challenge at the World Trade Organization that a proposed French ban on asbestos imports would be an illegal trade practice.

Despite recent warnings that asbestos was the cause of 500,000 cancer victims in western Europe alone, Canadian asbestos producers continue to promote and sell their fibre worldwide – especially to developing nations.

Asbestos is used as a binder in cement, as insulation, and in anti-fire walls. It is also a potent carcinogen with a long, well-documented legacy of death.

The danger comes when small asbestos fibres are released and inhaled by labourers. The fibres cause cancerous growths in the lungs, lung lining and abdomen but can take 20 years or more to manifest.

In 1997, Canada exported 430,000 tonnes of asbestos – more than 96% of production – most of it to the developing world. Canada is the world’s second-largest exporter of asbestos after Russia.

Union activists, who have visited India and other developing countries say, however, that the public relations efforts of the government and the asbestos industry are simply window-dressing to hide the fact that most people who work with the natural mineral fibre risk cancer.

Critics of Canada’s asbestos exports say the country is exporting death to protect the profits of a handful of companies and the jobs of 1,600 miners.

“What’s the difference between land mines and asbestos?” asks Dr. Barry Castleman, author of a respected book on the danger of asbestos. “A key difference, of course, is that Canada doesn’t export land mines.”

At the heart of the issue is Canada’s own precarious political situation. All of the asbestos mines in Canada are in Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking province with a separatist government.

Federal and provincial politicians are pushing asbestos exports to prove that they are successful at developing overseas markets, and are protective of Quebec workers. Critics of asbestos exports say the industry would probably be allowed to die if it was centred in any other part of the country.

“Personally, I believe this is all about Quebec politics,” says Canadian Auto Workers Health and Safety director Cathy Walker. “The Canadian and Quebec governments are competing with one another to show just how prepared they all are to protect Quebec jobs.”

The real costs will be borne by the developing world, she says.

Walker just returned from India, where she saw unprotected workers slashing open bags of asbestos fibres. In places where the asbestos was being mixed into cement, clouds of the carcinogenic fibres swirled around workers.

In Britain, the Cancer Research Campaign said in January that its study into the European asbestos-linked cancer epidemic should sound alarm bells everywhere, “particularly in the developing world where uncontrolled asbestos is still very common,” said CRC director Gordon McVie.

Seven of Canada’s top 10 markets are Third World countries. Still, the Canadian government, the asbestos industry and lobby groups are trying to put a good face on the asbestos industry.

Recently, diplomats stationed here were flown to asbestos- producing regions on an all-expense-paid first-class junket.

Read more

The dangerous politics of intimidation and threats in Canada – Car and home vandals aim at Toronto Liberal supporters


Brake lines cut, cars damaged at homes. Toronto police patrolled a midtown area overnight, after vandals cut brake lines on at least 10 cars parked at homes with Liberal election signs on their lawns.

“We’re investigating. Officers are paying special attention to the designated area and we take this very seriously,” Staff-Sgt. Shawn Meloche, from 53 Division, said last night. “This is a danger to life as well as to property. Regardless of the motivation – and there appears to be a connection (to the signs) – this is a public safety issue.”

Affected residents live in the riding of St. Paul’s, in a swath of the city around Eglinton Ave. between Bathurst St. and Mount Pleasant Rd., and had Carolyn Bennett signs on their property. Although Meloche confirmed 10 cases of vandalism last night, Liberal riding headquarters said the number was going up, reporting 14 by 9 p.m.

The cars were also damaged in other ways; some were scratched and keyed with L signs. Phone and cable lines of some homes were cut.

“There are two child seats in the back of my car,” said Andrew Lane, chief financial officer for Bennett’s campaign. “To cut the brake line on a car like that is just evil. Awful.”

Added Lane, whose children are 6 months and 22 months: “You have to crawl under someone’s car and cut the brake line, knowing that it could kill someone, or their whole family.”

Lane discovered his brakes didn’t work on his silver Saturn View as he tried to pull up at a stop sign near his home yesterday. He kept slamming the brakes and, in a “moment of terror,” narrowly avoided slamming into a bus.

Later, the garage called to tell him it had been no accident. When Lane expressed disbelief, the mechanic told him: “Look, this is a big, heavy rubber hose and it’s been cut through with a very sharp knife. You should phone the police.”

Police later said Lane was not alone and asked if he had an election sign, telling him, “The Carolyn Bennett sign seems to be the one thing linking events.”

“I’m just sick to my stomach about this,” a shaken Bennett told the Toronto Star last night. She spent the day visiting the vandals’ victims. “It is so upsetting. I’ve spent my life encouraging people to get involved in the democratic process and now it would appear they are targeted for doing so.”

Brent Johnston, former chief fundraiser for the provincial Liberals, was backing his Volkswagen Golf slowly out of his driveway when alarms went off. He then discovered brake fluid in his driveway. When he called Volkswagen, they told him he wasn’t the first to call, and to check his car for damage.

He, too, has two young children and shudders to think what might have happened if he had driven the car with a cut brake line.

“This isn’t about party politics. Putting people’s lives at risk is a whole different thing,” said Johnston. “We’re not taking the sign down. We won’t be intimidated. But I am really disappointed this is happening in Canada. It’s beyond comprehension.”

read more | digg story

Conservative suggests immigrants are to blame for much of the crime in Canada


Calgary Tory offers no apology for immigrant-crime comment

by Jason Fekete; Thursday, September 25, 2008 – Canwest News Service
http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=0add4a8…

CALGARY – Local Conservative incumbent Lee Richardson expressed regret Thursday – but offered no apology or resignation – for controversial comments he made suggesting immigrants are to blame for much of the crime in Canada.

But opposition parties and leaders representing minority groups are demanding the Calgary Centre Tory candidate – whose riding population is almost one-quarter recent immigrants – immediately apologize and either resign or be turfed for his “disgraceful” remarks.

“(Stephen) Harper must fire this man right away,” Liberal Leader Stephane Dion told reporters on the campaign trail, suggesting the comments reek of “intolerance” he attributed to the former Reform party.

“He cannot be a candidate anymore.”

The remarks were denounced by police officials, criminologists and immigrant aid groups, who noted there’s no data suggesting immigrants are to blame for a disproportionate amount of crime either in Calgary or across Canada.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper – who already has been knocked off-message a few times this campaign by candidates making inappropriate comments – could face the fallout at a campaign event Friday in Calgary.

“Mr. Richardson has clarified his remarks, and from our perspective the matter is over,” said Kory Teneycke, Harper’s chief spokesman.

The political firestorm stems from an interview with a Calgary weekly newspaper published Thursday, in which Richardson is quoted as saying many crimes aren’t committed by people who “grew up next door” and that immigrants aren’t as law-abiding as the rest of the population.

Read More

Watching the Canadian election debate….


9:42PM: Interesting debate, but I have to say Harper is taking a lot of heat. The environment issue is “killing” him right now. I am not sure if he cares or he is assuming that since the economy is tanking, no one cares. Do Canadians care?

“Canadians care strongly about saving the planet but wrongly believe that many of their fellow citizens don’t”

Do Canadians really care? Or do we simply care about ourselves. What about our future and our children? Maybe we should just watch Wall-E a few more times? Dion just nodded his head really weird, I had to turn the channel to PBS, however “Palin has the weird smile, stop it!”…..Driving me nuts! Jack Layton looks so good in a debate.

“Palin has the weird smile, stop it!”…..

Tips to the leaders: Elizabeth May and Dion are not doing to bad. Jack Layton needs to get into the mix a bit more. Harper seems to be in sleep mode. I am not sure why he is taking this? BTW – Jack Layton is starting to perk up. Must be the coffee!

Winner for The Environment: Dion

9:51PM: They are talking about Healthcare now. Harper just took a cheap shot. “I still use the public Healthcare system to see a Doctor, however some leaders use private clinics”. Nice! Jack definitely did not like that one. I am not sure why? However, Elizabeth May looked some astonished and confused for a second. I think she was surprised! Elizabeth May just moved the discussion to talk about private clinics moving into Canada. Healthcare is not Dion’s strongest point. Too bad! He did really good on the environment. Harper’s monotone voice is killing me! Jack is going after Dion now.

BTW – Why is Gilles Duceppe in this debate?

Winner for Healthcare: Elizabeth May

9:59: Now they are talking about the Arts! Watch for fireworks! But Gilles Duceppe gets first dibs? “How do you recognize Quebec as a nation and make those cuts Harper”? Huh?

“Palin has the weird smile, stop it!”…..

Sorry, I switched channels. Pakin just asked “Are conservatives barbarians?“.

“Palin has the weird smile, stop it!”…. Oh my, Palin is doing an awful job. “McCain knows how to win a war!”. She did not even answer the question! Back to the Canadian debate…

Dion is not doing that bad at all. But they are still all ganging up on Harper. I wonder why Harper cut the arts funding now? Should have waited? Harper said “we are getting a bad rap”. But stop the monotone voice!

BTW – Why isn’t Gilles Duceppe running for Prime Minister? Stop trying to rip apart Canada. Run in all of Canada and force us to speak French.

Jack Layton got the last jab!

Winner for the Arts: Gilles Duceppe

10:11pm: Now they are talking about “Crime”! Should be strong for the conservatives. However, Elizabeth May sounds the best so far. However, Harper? Is that really you? You are concerned about young people and gangs. Do I see emotion? I think he is sitting too close to the Liberals. Gilles Duceppe sounds pretty good so far. Pakin is pretty rough on these guys! Elizabeth May hits it again. She is not doing bad at all. “Investing in Kids when they are young”. However, she had a weak shot at Harper. Oh Oh! Harper is talking about the Young Offenders Act. Jack just nailed him! Said that Harper is playing “Political Games!”. I am going to have a hard time picking a winner. Not too sure what the heck Dion just said or why he went down that road, but now everyone is yelling at one another.

BTW – Gilles Duceppe really looks good. He should have run for Prime Minister.

“Palin STILL STILL STILL has that weird smile, STOP IT!”…What the heck is Palin saying? McCain McCain. What is she talking about? Got to win the WAR? Oh! She said “I do not see a lot of progress with the Republicans” Who’s side is she on?…

10:24pm: Now they are talking about Afghanistan. Harper gets a chance to talk and says that we will be out in 2011. Gilles Duceppe just took a shot at Jack Layton and said “if Jack and the NDP had voted against the extension, the Canadian troops would have been moving out in 2009”. Elizabeth May seems to be the smartest one on this one. She is talking FACTS and HISTORY! We need to know what the HISTORY of Afghanistan is before making rash choices. Gilles Duceppe JUST NAILED HARPER!!! “Are you saying that you made an error!” WOW!!! He just brought SENATOR OBAMA into the mix! What the heck! Harper what does this have to do with OBAMA? Its like a school kid who says “he is did it first….”. I think he got backed up into a corner and did not like it. Dion is a non-show in this one. This has been all Elizabeth May and Gilles Duceppe! I think some will have a reason to vote GREEN this time!

“I think that Palin is making a closing speech. She is still talking War and Fear. War and Fear work well on the American public it seems? She seems to think that this is Mad Max, Terminator Salvation or the Watchmen movie.”…..

Winner for the Afghanistan: Gilles Duceppe and Elizabeth May

BTW – Gilles Duceppe could you stop trying to break up the Country?

Harper: “I WILL NOT RAISE TAXES!“. Hmmm! I think I heard that line before from Dalton McGuinty. Let’s see (1) Regan deficit, (2) Mulroney deficit, (3) Mike Harris deficit, (3) Bush BIG deficit,and finally (4) Harper, remains to be seen. I guess, under conservative policies, once you have cut everything, what is left?

http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/467383

http://www.nupge.ca/news_2004/n08de04a.htm

http://www.ctj.org/html/debt0603.htm

http://www.geocities.com/thereaganyears/economicpolicy.htm