Contaminating the Board

Reducing the number of undergraduate students on the Board of Governors from four to one is a slap in the face to the student body.

What makes this decision worse is to keep Baljit Chadha on the board.

Not because he sells asbestos—which is responsible for more than 100,000 deaths worldwide each year—but because of the tactics he uses to sell this deadly product.

In a recent Globe and Mail article, Mr. Chadha claimed that chrysotile asbestos is not deadly. Mr. Chadha knows this is not true and he even acknowledged as much in a 2010 The Gazette article in which he conceded that chrysotile fibres can cause deadly diseases when inhaled.

In another The Gazette story Mr. Chadha claimed that the World Health Organization had a safe exposure level of one fibre per cubic centimetre, a level met at the Jeffrey asbestos mine he is trying to re-open.

The problem is that this statement is also false. Mr. Chadha is aware of this fact and has been asked to correct his misstatements in the past, yet has failed to do so.

The error was so egregious that Dr. Ivan Ivanov from WHO took the rare step of publicly rebuking Mr. Chadha and clarified the position of WHO: “There is no safe threshold of exposure to all forms of asbestos.” Ivanov also stated, “All forms of asbestos including chrysotile cause cancer in humans.”

If a Concordia student made similar claims in academia, they would be in violation of section 12 (k) of the Academic Code of Conduct and proceedings would be initiated to deal with the misconduct.

As a person in a position of leadership at the university—and who has repeatedly demonstrated a disregard for the truth—Mr. Chadha should be held to a higher standard of behaviour, not a lower one.

Instead of reducing the number of student seats on the board, Dr. Lowy should ask Mr. Chadha to resign and give his seat to a deserving undergraduate student.

—Gannon McCauley