Quebec residents had the opportunity to vote against asbestos and the asbestos mine on September 4, 2012 in a Quebec election. Most did with a Parti Quebecois Minority Government elected. The pro-asbestos mine, Quebec Liberal Government of Jean Charest has been defeated, as was Charest personally in his Sherbrooke Riding. The Town of Asbestos, being the home of the Jeffrey Mine is in the Richmond Riding. Liberal Karine Vallières won the Richmond riding by a few hundred votes over PQ candidate Étienne-Alexis Boucher. The PQ Government cancelled the loan to the mine and the miner has announced it will not reopen. There were obviously many bigger issues in the election than asbestos but support for the mine while saving one seat in the National Assembly no doubt hurt the Charest Government elsewhere. Asbestos is about as unpopular a product as exists anywhere and when given a choice most people would vote against asbestos. Even the Federal Government of Stephen Harper has backed off of its support for asbestos knowing it is a losing cause. They have put the asbestos feud behind them and are co-operating on other issues.
In February 2012, a Quebec delegation came to India to promote asbestos exports to India. They were met with protests there. Nevertheless, an official agreement was signed to promote “safe handling of asbestos” in India. Asbestos is used extensively in India for roofing and mixed with cement. They have been Canada’s best customer for asbestos exports. With that agreement in hand the Quebec Government of Jean Charest knew there would be a continuing market for its controversial export. On June 29, 2012 shortly before announcing the Quebec election, the Charest Government announced it would loan $58,000,000 to restart asbestos mine operations at the Jeffrey Mine in the Town of Asbestos, Quebec. Private investors in Quebec agreed to invest $25,000,000 more in the asbestos mine. While this was not a popular thing for the Charest Government to do just before a Quebec election it was clearly intended to help that Government retain its Richmond Riding seat in the area of the mine. Asbestos became an election issue which may have affect many Quebec votes elsewhere. There was not clear or strong opposition to the move by Quebec opposition leaders who discussed the issue in a Quebec election debate on August 11, 2012. Since then all three opposition parties have clearly opposed the refinancing of the mine. The Quebec Government is a popular PQ minority which stopped the loan to the asbestos mine to fulfill its promise. For now the Canadian asbestos industry remains dormant.
For more details about the mine read our Page about the Jeffrey Mine.