I would like to take a moment to comment on the public health crisis in Rouyn-Nordanda, where residents are being subjected to massive amounts of arsenic and heavy metal air pollution from the smelter.
Unfortunately, this situation is not unique in Quebec. In the Limolou district of Quebec City, residents are also subject to nickel pollution at levels that can be harmful to their health. In both cases, public health authorities have failed to protect the population. In Rouyn-Noranda, they collaborated with industry to hide critical data on alarming cancer rates. In Quebec City, they recommended an increase in the allowable amount of nickel emissions, despite expert advice that this would be a bad decision for public health. In both cases, corporate interests were favoured over public health. Authorities are now working to limit the damage, but many people have lost confidence in their ability to protect public health.
We cannot allow corporate interests to trump public health. The Green Party of Quebec supports stricter standards for hazardous pollution, the creation of environmental policing and a strict separation between public health officials and industry. As for Rouyn-Noranda, the smelter should be closed immediately. The company that has already damaged the health of local residents should not be allowed to continue polluting while it seeks solutions. It should be shut down now before anyone else suffers. In the case of nickel emissions in the Port of Quebec, the acceptable level of pollution should be significantly reduced and if the port is not able to meet the most stringent, world-class standards, it should also be closed.
Leader of the Green Party of Quebec