Quebec's Asbestos Pimps and Profiteers
It seems that in Quebec there is one rule for ordinary taxpayers and another for asbestos profiteers. The Quebec Agency which collects income taxes has a deadline for filing income tax returns of April 30; failure to comply incurs heavy financial penalties. And yet, the deadline set for foreign investors to qualify for a $58 million gift from the Quebec Government has come and gone twice. The international consortium that is backing the Jeffrey underground mining project failed to come up with the requisite $25 million dollars on July 1.1 The Government responded by moving the goalposts and allowing a further 45 days for the scheme's backers to comply. August 15 dawned and there was, yet again, no sign of the crucial private financing.
The relaunch of the Jeffrey asbestos mine is being spearheaded by Indian-born Canadian businessman Baljit Singh Chadha who, it seems, enjoys a privilege denied to ordinary Quebec citizens. Could the fund-raising efforts that Chadha has made on behalf of Premier Charest have earned him special treatment? Or is it the fact that Charest has been pimping Quebec's asbestos industry for so long that deadlines and requirements set by his government for asbestos projects are meaningless?2
During the course of August 15, a member of the National Assembly for Quebec announced that the Government will extend the Jeffrey Mine deadline until the beginning of October. No doubt, if the private finance needed to secure the loan guarantee yet again fails to materialize another extension will be granted. It seems that when it comes to asbestos, Quebec Government policy is very flexible.
August 15, 2011
1 Kazan-Allen L. Canada's Asbestos Industry The Final Countdown. August 1, 2011.
2 Shingler B. Firm trying to raise funds for Quebec asbestos mine seeks deadline extension. August 13, 2011.