Thursday, February 25, 2010

Charest and Godbout, the asbestos capitalists’ lapdogs

This February, Premier Charest was in India defending the interests of the asbestos lobby.

Asbestos is not environmentally friendly, don’t forget. Linked to a variety of diseases, it endangers workers exposed to it in any form. Harmful effects persist even as it breaks down – airborne fibers are dispersed and ingested through the lungs. Toxic effects can take years to become apparent – up to 20 - 40 years after one’s exposure, though longer and shorter intervals are possible. These effects can range from benign to severe, notably to respiratory passages (lung cancer, mesothelioma). Profit-hungry manufacturers are responsible for thousands of deaths globally from asbestos use.

Charest’s attitude is hardly surprising, given his role as representative of the bourgeois state, defending capitalist production – in this case the Quebecois asbestos manufacturers. His greenwashing in Quebec serves only to pacify the naïve environmental lobby.

In his approach to India, Charest found a considerable ally in that trade union corpse, Clément Godbout. Parti Québécois candidate in ’73, FTQ president from 1993 to 1998, member of the administrative council of the Chrysotile Institute since its creation in 1984, becoming its president in 2002… – (the asbestos lobby’s compensation for his work as a saboteur trade-unionist). This spokesman of the Chrysotile Institute – a defense organism of Canadian capitalist asbestos producers – had called upon Indian workers to pressure their government for safety regulations regarding its use. This institute has so little credibility that specialists have demanded their funding be suspended, maintaining that it’s a "waste of public funds", a stain on the scientific and moral reputation of the government and the Canadian people, themselves – "exposing innocents" to the health-hazards of asbestos. [1] India, in spite of being an emerging capitalist power, bases its economy purely on very low wages and lack of health and safety regulations in the workplace – a sickening exploitation of the proletariat. Clement Godbout offers poisoned bait to Indian workers by inciting them to struggle alone against the asbestos manufacturers. To demand safety regulations for its use is, according to journalist Rima Elkouri, an utterly hypocritical and irresponsible attitude, as Canada is all too aware of the impossibility of working safely with asbestos. [2] Clement Godbout just keeps yapping as he learned so well as a trade unionist: expecting workers to fight sector by sector, isolated from other sectors in other countries.

Only an international struggle of the working class can end the use of harmful products such as asbestos.