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Quebec Liberals rebuff effort to probe asbestos exports Add to ...

The Quebec government has shot down an opposition effort to examine the dangers of exporting asbestos to the developing world.

The majority Liberals rejected a motion tabled by third-party Quebec solidaire's lone legislative member, Amir Khadir, aimed at creating a parliamentary committee.

Mr. Khadir told reporters Wednesday that the issue still deserved to be debated, given the conflicting opinions about the risks of using asbestos.

The Parti Québécois supported Mr. Khadir's motion, saying the Quebec government shouldn't dump its social responsibilities onto emerging markets.

On a recent trip to India, Premier Jean Charest refused calls to halt the province's exports of asbestos.

The debate comes as Mr. Charest seeks to brand himself as an environmental champion in his spat with the federal government over curbing greenhouse-gas emissions.

The mining of asbestos is an intensely sensitive issue in Quebec, where it provides about 400 jobs in Canada's one remaining mine.

The industry fiercely defends Quebec asbestos - also called chrysotile - and deems it perfectly safe as long as precautions are followed.

Several countries, especially poorer ones, still import asbestos from Canada despite numerous studies linking it to health hazards, including cancer deaths.

In 2008, Canada's $100-million asbestos industry exported 175,000 tonnes of chrysotile - almost all of it to developing countries.

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