The 2012 Michener Award finalists talk about their award winning stories and the people who helped make them happen – Michener Awards Ceremony, June 18, 2013.
Producer Terence McKenna describes the CBC/SRC investigation of links between asbestos industry funding and “independent” research at McGill University.
Your Excellencies, Madame la Juge en chef, Parlementaires, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Fatal Deception is a documentary about the decades of junk science funded by the asbestos industry, the Federal Government and the Quebec Government, science that was used to deceive the general public and asbestos workers about the dangers of that toxic substance. The science was often generated by one of our most cherished institutes of higher learning…McGill University in Montreal.
Your excellency, I confess I’m a little nervous talking about McGill in this way since you spent years as the Principal of that school. I’d like to point out that I have my own sentimental attachment to McGill, and that two of my four sons are McGill graduates, but sometimes sentimentality has to be sacrificed in the search for a hard truth. Perhaps that is one of the curses of investigative journalism.
The documents we highlighted in the documentary prove that as early as the 1920s, the Asbestos industry and its insurance companies sought to establish a « quid pro quo » arrangement with McGill, in which the industry would fund scientific studies to show somehow that asbestos could be safely produced and used. Those studies were cited in the House of Commons to bolster the Federal Government’s support for the asbestos industry as recently as last year. After the broadcast of our documentary, there was finally a change of course, first by the Marois government in Quebec, and then by the Harper Government in Ottawa. It looks like the end asbestos industry in Canada…finally. How this country maintained that industry for so long when an estimated 100,000 people per year die around the world from asbestos-related diseases can be the subject of a future documentary about mass psychosis.
I might say that McGill has continued its pattern of dissembling, deception and denial right up to the present day, through it’s justifications of that industry-sponsored science and claims that it has done nothing which merits an apology, or even an acknowledgement. Dozens of leading scientists in the field apparently disagree, and have asked McGill to allow an independent inquiry.
Ce documentaire etait un co-production avec remission ‘Enquete’ de Radio-Canada. Je veux remercie mes collegues Jose Dupuis et Pier Gagne, qui sont ici ce soir…avec Fequipe de CBC, Joseph Loiero, Alex Shprintsen et Harvey Cashore.
Sadly our Producer Gil Shochat, who originated this project, could not be here, because he is on deadline with his next documentary.
Nous aimerions remercier la fondation Michener pour son appui continu du journalisme d’enquete, ainsi que pour cette soiree, une occasion unique de partager avec des collegues de toutes parts, auteurs de journalisme important et inspirant.
We would all like to thank the Michener Foundation for encouraging this sort of journalism, and for providing the opportunity to share this night with so many of our colleagues from across the country who generate such inspiring work.
Michener Awards Ceremony
June 18, 2013.