Monday, May 02, 2011

Canadian Prime Minister Harper reelected after defending the asbestos industry

Canadians voters have handed Prime Minister Stephen Harper his first-ever majority government. During the campaign, Harper indicated that if he won the elections and the conservatives won majority government, he would work towards supporting the asbestos industry and the notion that asbestos should be reintroduced in Canadians' homes. While one can understand the concern for the local economy, supporting an industry that is a threat to public health is not politically sound. Also Canada is knowingly shipping this product to places where the safety controls for asbestos simply are not in place and people are and will be harmed by asbestos products.

A few days ago, a criminal court in Torino, Italy, convicted Mr. Harald Espenhahn, the CEO of steel company ThyssenKrupp Harald Espenhahn, for a plant accident that caused the death of seven Italian steelworkers. Espenhahn was sentenced to sixteen and a half years in jail and to a life-long ban from holding public offices. In the aftermath of the verdict, commentators pointed out that the verdict would put an end to ThyssenKrupp's investments in Italy. Perhaps it will be. But, as in the case of the asbestos industry in Canada, economic consideration should hardly trump the respect for human life. Unfortunately, that's not what Canadians when voting a few hours ago.

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