Members of S.H.A.M.E. (Sarnia’s Hometown Activist Movement Emerging) held a demonstration Saturday at the former Holmes Foundry site in Sarnia.
“Asbestos has had a huge impact on workers and families here,” said organizer Zak Nicholls, joined by several participants who held signs slamming both the Liberal and Conservative governments.
“Both parties support the asbestos industry,” he said, pointing to a lavish Liberal fundraiser hosted recently by a businessman leading the charge to reopen one of Canada’s last-remaining asbestos mines.
Meanwhile, the Conservative government continues to support exports to India, Indonesia and other Third World countries.
Locally, all five federal election candidates have denounced asbestos exports, but Nicholls said he finds it frustrating to see campaign signs for both Liberal Tim Fugard and Conservative Pat Davidson posted near the site, at the corner of Exmouth and Christina Streets.
“We know locally where the candidates stand, and I believe them,” he said. “But this is about what their parties are doing.”
Although exact numbers aren’t available, more than 1,000 Sarnia-area workers and family members were diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer and respiratory disease at a local workers clinic in just one decade — many cases linked to the former Holmes Foundry plant.
Sarnia-Lambton has the highest asbestos-related death rate in Ontario.