Expert Witness|Expert Testimony

A few cases of damage inflicted by industrial activity to the health of the environment, and to the health of Canadians and Americans:
  • The Sydney Tar Ponds problem of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, exemplifies the way that industry can leave in its trail a legacy of environmental degradation. Dr. Soskolne is involved as an expert witness in a class-action law suit initiated by members of the Sydney community to hold the Nova Scotia and federal governments to account.

  • In Dr. Soskolne's home province of Alberta, the oil sands industry has greatly benefited the province, but the social and environmental costs may prove catastrophic in the long run. Unfortunately, as long as crude oil remains a highly-priced commodity, governments at all levels seem happy to look the other way by promoting development in the absence of proven environmental safeguards.

  • Chrysotile asbestos has exceptional physical and chemical properties, but it is also an established human carcinogen, currently under a complete or partial ban in more than 60 countries. The Canadian government still denies the overwhelming scientific evidence regarding the threat to health posed by Chrysotile Asbestos and it criticized the September 2012 decision of the then new Quebec government to cancel a $58 million loan to re-open a Quebec asbestos mine. Since the last two asbestos mines in Quebec have now shut down, the Canadian government announced that it will no longer oppose the listing of Chrysotile Asbestos as a hazardous substance under the Rotterdam Convention. Russia, along with a handful of allies, now appears to have assumed the role formerly taken on by Canada in obstructing the listing of Chrysotile Asbestos under the Convention, thus continuing to put the health of importing country populations at risk. Dr. Soskolne has been involved, since 2006, in an advocacy campaign to draw attention to this injustice. In addition, a few years ago, he began serving as an expert witness in tort actions.
Note: Dr. Soskolne has not been available for such work since 2013. This section is provided only as a record.

Expert Witness

Human industry does not only generate wealth and well-being for some; it also generates winners and losers.

The commodities of modern life often come at a hefty price for both human health and the sustainability of ecosystems. While it is always convenient (and much cheaper) to deny such damaging effects, harms to biological and human life from industrial activities have been scientifically established and form the basis of liability.

For instance, the plight of workers who put their trust in their employers to protect them from harm, and of citizens to assume good corporate citizenship from those industries located in their midst, is especially deplorable when that trust is callously and manipulatively betrayed.

People who live in communities where industrial facilities are operating are sometimes hit by the double whammy of occupational health risks from their jobs and environmental pollution from their surroundings.

And, when governments fail in their role of protecting the public (wittingly or unwittingly serving other interests), this is also cause for legal challenges.

Legal action is often the only recourse that affected people and communities have in order to obtain some measure of justice and remediation.

Legal action might also help by changes in policy that, in turn, can prevent further harms, both locally and elsewhere. Dr. Soskolne used to consider engagements to act as an expert witness in tort actions based on considerations of the ethics and merits of a case.