The Canadian government says it will no longer defend the mining of asbestos.
Interior minister Christian Paradis announced that Canada would not oppose global efforts to list asbestos as a hazardous material.
Cancer risks associated with asbestos dust have led many countries to ban its production and export.
Extraction of the mineral once made a major contribution to the economy of the Canadian province of Quebec.
The newly-elected provincial government has promised to cut off financial assistance to one large mine.