'The miracle is in the original asbestos fibre'

Randy Boswell digs into the history of asbestos mining in Quebec and finds Jack Layton’s father.

The late Robert Layton, a Quebec MP in the 1980s who served as federal mines minister in Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government, played a high-profile role in championing Canada’s asbestos industry at a time when the world had just come to recognize the serious health risks posed by handling the fibrous, fire-resistant mineral. Robert Layton, in fact, was probably best known during his two-year term as Mulroney’s mines minister for promoting asbestos as a “good product” in the face of growing international opposition to the mining and export of the cancer-causing material.

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