Asbestos industry will be shut down if Parti Québécois wins election – by Kevin Dougherty (Montreal Gazette – August 29, 2012)posted in Asbestos, Quebec Mining |
ROUYN-NORANDA, Q.C. – Pauline Marois announced Wednesday that if she becomes Quebec premier after the provincial election next Tuesday, Quebec will get out of the asbestos mining and exporting business.
Marois indicated her mind is made up but said she would first hold hearings before a Quebec national assembly committee to hear what those affected have to say. “I think it is important to hear the workers and their families,” she told reporters. She also wants to hear from entrepreneurs in the Asbestos region who can expect government aid for diversification projects to replace the last jobs.
She said she has “very great confidence” in local entrepreneurs, who could draw on a $58-million loan of government money the Charest government committed for the reopening of the underground Jeffrey Mine in the town of Asbestos.
She plans to cancel that loan. Late on a Friday afternoon, just before the July 1 weekend, in the town of Asbestos, Yvon Vallières, intergovernmental affairs minister and the outgoing Liberal MNA for Richmond riding, announced the government was lending $58 million to reopen the Jeffry Mine.
The promoters of the project, Baljit Chadha and Bernard Coulombe, had sought without success private financing to reopen Quebec’s last asbestos mine.
The Charest government, which was to go into an election a month later, had promised a loan guarantee but because no private bank would put up the money, even with the government guarantee, the government granted the $58-million loan by cabinet decree.
Marois said she would use other means to revoke the government’s commitment if the loan has been signed.
“I do not want to put public money into extracting asbestos,” she said, noting reports on the public health danger asbestos poses. But before a definitive decision is made, “it is necessary that we hold a parliamentary commission.”
Marois did say it is not likely the hearings will change her mind and that it is time for Quebec to get out of the asbestos business and diversify the economy in a town that has depended for jobs on asbestos extraction.
“There will be a decision,” she said. “Do we export or not? Do we mine or not? The decision will be very clear.”
For the original version of this article, go to the Montreal Gazette website: http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Asbestos+industry+will+shut+down+Parti+Qu%C3%A9b%C3%A9cois+wins+election/7162803/story.html