In Remembrance of Peter Broadhurst
After a two year battle with the deadly asbestos cancer, mesothelioma, Peter Broadhurst died in Dundee, Scotland on May 30, 2007. Peter had worked as a mechanical engineering fitter at an asbestos factory in the North of England before he took up the study of theology and psychology which eventually led him to a religious community where he practiced Christian meditation. He died aged 62 years old and is much missed by his family, friends and members of the Servite religious community.
On August 18, 2006, Peter wrote a letter to Christian Paradis, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, Canada in which he criticized Canada's continuing support for the global asbestos lobby. Highlighting both the World Health Organization's and International Labor Organization's views regarding the hazardous nature of chrysotile, he asked:
Why do non-partisan organisations aspire or possibly conspire, to ban a substance that is harmless if handled properly. To a logical person such a strategy is, to say the least foolish. Canada is a great supporter of the United Nations so why should one of its agencies, the WHO, wish to offend the Canadian Government? Why should a labour organisation seek a course of action that will lead to the unemployment of its membership? The only logical conclusion is that the substance they aspire to ban is harmful to heath. If this is not the case then we have a very serious situation in the world where Canada is right in its assumption that chrysotile (white asbestos) is safe and the rest of the world wrong!
With a gentle and fairly wry sense of humor, which was typical of Peter, he concluded the letter with the following comments:
At this point you might be inclined to dismiss me and the things I have written on the suspicion that they come from some left leaning 'fruit-cake.' It is therefore important that I tell you a little bit about myself. I am a sixty one year old Roman Catholic friar who would best describe himself as being apolitical. I do not belong to any political party or faction but I would consider myself as being passionate in my desire to right wrongs either of the right or the left. I would once again ask you to consider the points that I make and reappraise the stance you take on the subject of chrysotile.
Peter Broadhurst was a good man, a man whose life ended too soon because of his exposure to asbestos. He will be remembered by all of us who are working to bring the Canadian Government and other asbestos stakeholders to account for the harm they have caused. Honouring Peter's memory and the memory of so many others who have fallen, we will continue the fight to ban asbestos.
June 6, 2007