The relative of one of the founders of a major asbestos mine in Quebec is going against her family’s history and speaking out against the push to continue the production of asbestos in the Canadian province.
Susan Henry is the great-great niece of Andrew Stuart Johnson, who founded the Johnson Mine Company in Thetford Mines in 1878. It is still regarded to be the first asbestos mine to open in Canada.
However, despite her heritage, Henry has become a staunch advocate against the production of asbestos in Canada, particularly in regard to the government’s recent decision to promise a $58 million loan guarantee to Westmount-based Balcorp Ltd. to expand the Jeffrey Mine into an underground operation. With the expansion, the mine would be capable of producing 200,000 tons of asbestos annually.
To combat the loan guarantee, Henry partnered with the David Suzuki Foundation last November to launch a letter-writing campaign designed to increase sentiment against the mine expansion.
Although my great-great uncle, Andrew S. Johnson, founded his mine … in good faith, the intervening years have revealed the very dangerous nature of asbestos, reads a message from Henry that was recently released to foundation members, according to the Gazette. It is deeply disturbing to me that we are now poised to ramp up exports to developing countries, when we are fully aware of how lethal this mineral can be.
The goal of the letter-writing campaign is to send 10,000 messages to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest that oppose the reopening of the Jeffrey Mine. Currently, nearly 9,000 letters have been sent.