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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Politics, Torts, Policy and Risk – Canadian Medical Association Takes a Stand on the Asbestos

The Canadian Medical Association has come out with an editorial, described here, that calls on Canada to join with other countries to further regulate “asbestsos” exports. The topic is of interest in Canada because its been a major exporter of asbestos for decades, and so the fibers produce jobs, corporate profits and tax revenue. The issue is in part caused by disputes about how safe or unsafe are the various types of asbestos fibers and their various end uses. The topic is relevant here because a recurrent issue in tort litigation no doubt will be whether and how health standards and practices in one country should effect what happens in another country or be applied in different countries.

The same issues also arise for politicans, as illustrated by the article. In the US, the issue has arisen during the US presidential election through Senator Obama has called for further and/or additional enforcement of terms intended to protect workers and “the environment” against processess that are not deemed as safe as practices in the US. Some have called it that a good idea, and others call it “protectionism.” Some would say that it is short-sighted if the US and other “developed” economies do not push or “nudge” others to move towards less risky practices. Otherwise, it seems that industry is receiving a subsidy in the form of allowing it to undertake operations known not to be “safe.” That said, others argue that the US should “let the free market” work and not “interfere.”

Lots of room for debate in this area, and it will be interesting to see what happens.

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