Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley appears to be turning up the heat on the man behind plans to reopen an asbestos mine in the town of the same name, just a month after a letter he sent to the Montreal entrepreneur went unanswered.
In a second letter sent to Baljit Singh Chadha, CEO of Balcorp Ltd., Bradley reiterates his request for Chadha to visit Sarnia "and meet face-to-face with those who have been victimized by this deadly exposure and to visit our waterfront memorial to those who have lost their lives in the workplace due to exposure to asbestos."
Bradley's letter was read today (Friday, Nov. 4) at a media conference held at the Toronto Delta Chelsea Hotel.
The mayor tells Chadha that the letter "was also prompted by your visit to Parliament Hill, trying to counteract the extremely negative publicity about the export of asbestos on Canada's image and reputation and the growing movement by people from around the world to stop this hideous export of death by Canada."
In the meantime, Linda Reinstein, president of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, who spoke at the Oct. 1 event in Sarnia, has responded to an article penned by Chadha that appeared in the Montreal Gazette, defending the proposal.
In that article, which appeared in the paper the day after Bradley first wrote Chadha, the entrepreneur defended the export of asbestos, citing numerous safeguards "We agree that we cannot ensure safe use everywhere in the world, but we certainly can ensure safe use by our 24 or so clients, and we intend to," he wrote.
Reinstein lashed out at Chadha in her blog. “As a mesothelioma widow, I am shocked and disgusted by your irresponsible, immoral, and reprehensible disregard for public health.”
Leah Nielsen, one of the organizers of the event in Sarnia (and whose father died of mesothelioma some three years ago), has criticized local MP Pat Davidson for not opposing the federal government's support for the export of asbestos.
"This week (she) had the opportunity to really do something that could help people—all people—not just Canadians but citizens in 60 different countries where asbestos is exported," Nielsen wrote in an e-mail, referencing an NDP motion that would have banned the export of asbestos.
Davidson has repeatedly said she is working behind the scenes to ban the substance, but others say that's not good enough. One such individual is Jim Brophy, a health researcher and former executive director of the Occupational Health Clinic for Workers, who was quoted in a newspaper article some five months ago.
"I'm pleased she has responded to the overwhelming consensus in the community," Brophy was quoted as saying. "However, I don't think that writing private letters is enough. We need to be publicly and actively trying to do something in this area."
The House voted on the motion on Nov. 1, which was defeated 152-123. Davidson abstained.