On International Workers Memorial Day 2007 (April 28) demonstrators in Washington D.C., Sao Paulo and London will protest Canada's continued leadership of the global asbestos lobby at events timed to coincide with parades, meetings and rallies being held by trade unionists all over the world. As labor's theme for 2007 is Occupational Cancer,2 asbestos, the world's deadliest industrial toxin, will, once again, be a high priority issue at high-level meetings, regional gatherings and grass-roots events. Launching the global zero cancer campaign in Geneva, Anita Normark, General Secretary of the Building Workers' International, said:
Occupational cancer is the most common work-related cause of death, ahead of other work-related diseases and accidents, but it is not taken seriously by regulators or employers. Asbestos alone accounts for an estimated 100,000 deaths each year. While our global campaign to ban deadly asbestos is gaining momentum, much more needs to be done to prevent exposure to asbestos which is already present in millions of buildings and workplaces all over the world.
Supporting the unions' action on asbestos, groups representing millions of workers,3 asbestos victims, community members and campaigners are petitioning Mr. Stephan Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, to express their concerns at his country's complicity with the asbestos industry; the document entitled: J'Accuse condemns Canada for:
Abusing its global reputation as a progressive democracy, Canada bullied international agencies and national governments, lied to multilateral institutions, vetoed attempts to protect humanity and actively engaged with asbestos commercial interests to protect global markets for a substance acknowledged to be carcinogenic with the full knowledge of the human and environmental consequences of doing so.
On April 28, this document will be presented to officials at the Canadian Consulate, Sao Paulo and Canada House, London. Individuals who wish to support this protest by civil society may do so by signing the petition at:
April 27, 2007