Canada’s ongoing export of the world’s deadliest industrial material reached Comedy Central on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. The sheer absurdity of pretending that chrysotile asbestos can be used safely, while so many suffer from diseases like mesothelioma and asbestosis that are linked to asbestos exposure, caught the attention of the political satire show. The segment lasted five minutes, ridiculing the industry, the mining company, and the town of Asbestos; however, the humor didn’t end there. Following the episode’s airdate, Mr. Bernard Coulombe, Executive Director of Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, released a response that even the biggest asbestos fan would struggle to take seriously.
Coulombe incredulously suggested to interviewer Aasif Mandvi that there is obviously no health problem with asbestos because when you walk the streets of Asbestos you don’t see any sick people. If that wasn’t enough, moments later he explained that people in India wouldn’t be bothered by asbestos fibers because they are “used to pollution. …It’s like they have a natural antibiotic.” This, of course, was in reference to India being Canada’s largest importer of the toxic mineral.
After the segment aired, Coulombe indicated, “It was already too late by the time I realized that this program was not a serious news show and that all the host wanted was to make fun of me and the town’s representatives, to insult us and to deliver anti-asbestos propaganda.”
The days when CEOs spoke to the media without being prepped by their public relations staff for possible flak are long gone – except in Asbestos. Coulombe apparently failed to research the program featuring him, as it airs on the Comedy Central network. This does little to guise the show’s roots in satire. Despite its humorous presentation, the content of the show should not be tossed aside as farce.
The reality is that all forms of asbestos, including chrysotile, which is mined and exported by Canada, kills over 100,000 people each year. Even with this statistic and a global movement to ban asbestos there are those spreading pro-asbestos, profit-motivated claims that it is “safe.” Those who have suffered through the decades and their advocates deeply disagree. Victims have sought mesothelioma attorneys to take action against these industry giants on their behalf, aiding them to win their deserved mesothelioma settlements. The Coulombes in this world can babble about “safe chrysotile” all they want, but the Jon Stewarts will boldly reveal the devastating facts that effortlessly make a mockery of their claims.