Businessman Fails to Sway Critics of Canada’s Asbestos Industry

CTV News Montreal reports that a recent meeting between critics of Canada’s asbestos industry and Baljit Chadha, “a prominent businessman who argues that his industry has been unfairly maligned,” did not end with any altered views on this hot-button political and human rights issue. According to the news source, “Critics of Canadian asbestos say they weren't won over by face-to-face meetings Monday” with Chadha. The Montreal news source explains that “Some of the industry's most vocal opponents agreed to meetings with Montreal businessman Baljit Chadha, who was in Ottawa as part of his effort to revive the reputation of the asbestos trade.” The news source explains that Chadha’s “public-relations initiative” is in support of his request of a government loan guarantee of $58 million to help him “reopen one of this country's last two asbestos mines.” The deadline to finalize this deal to “extend the life of the Jeffrey Mine for another 20 years” is Saturday. Despite Chadha’s efforts, CTV reports that “the industry critics he met with all declared themselves unswayed,” with one of these groups going so far as to issue a condemnation of the asbestos industry in a news release immediately after the meeting. Another critic of the asbestos industry, Democrat MP Pat Martin, met with Chadha, taking part in a “spirited exchange about the impact on poorer countries -- where most Canadian exports of the hazardous mineral are shipped,” the news source explains. According to CTV, “Martin, a former asbestos miner who has long opposed Canadian exports, questioned the businessman's assertions that the hazardous substance can be adequately monitored by safety inspectors overseas.” During his meeting with Chadha, Martin claimed the businessman pointed to the jobs boost in Canada and inexpensive Indian housing as two reasons to support the extension on the life of this mine, CTV reports. However, Martin said he called Chadha’s actions “morally and ethically reprehensible” in their meeting. Nevertheless, keeping with his efforts to improve the image of the asbestos industry, the Montreal news source said Chadha called his meetings “a modest success.” Like other asbestos proponents, yesterday the businessman attempted to convince critics that chrysotile asbestos can be used safely. CTV reports Chadha plans to “launch an ad campaign” to further improve the image of asbestos, which he claims has been tarnished by misconceptions and a “well-organized lobby.” The news source also reports that following another Monday meeting, this time with asbestos opponents from the Rideau Institute, Chadha was criticized further. According to CTV, “less than an hour after their discussion, the organization had already issued a news release condemning Chadha for ignoring health experts in pursuit of personal gain.” According to representatives from the Rideau Institute, the two groups clashed on virtually every issue during the meeting, CTV reports. Chadha appeared completely determined to move forward with his project, representatives of this institute explained, choosing to deny all scientific evidence of the dangers of asbestos. CTV reports that Chadha hopes “to meet with the editorial boards of major newspapers as well as other groups that have criticized the asbestos industry, including the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Medical Association.” However, the news source explains that the Canadian Medical Association has said it “has no intention” to meet with Chadha.
Blatchford, Andy. (September 27, 2011) “Asbestos critics refuse to be converted after meeting with industry powerhouse.” Retrieved on September 27, 2011 from CTV News Montreal.
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