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ENVI Committee Meeting

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[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Tuesday, November 30, 1999

• 0913


The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan (York North, Lib.)): Thank you very much. I would like to welcome you to the committee. My name is Karen Kraft Sloan, and I'm actually the vice-chair of the committee. The chair is not able to be with us this morning.

I do apologize for the late start; we will get started right now. Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we will be resuming study on the management and use of pesticides in Canada, including an evaluation of the performance of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency in preventing pollution and in protecting the environment and human health.

I'd like to welcome Judy Grant, who is the mayor of Chelsea. Good morning, Ms. Grant.

Ms. Judy Grant (Mayor, Municipality of Chelsea): Good morning. Thank you very much for allowing me to be here to speak to you this morning.

The municipality of Chelsea is an 1,100-square-kilometre area bordering the Gatineau River, with a population of approximately 6,000 people. Sixty-six percent of the land in Chelsea is Gatineau Park, and of the remaining land, 80% is residential, one- or two-acre lots with septic fields and wells. Chelsea's main industry is recreo-tourism.

• 0915

Chelsea has always been known as a leader in the environmental field. We were the second municipality in Quebec to implement a mandatory municipal septic tank pumping program, and in 1998 we launched an innovative integrated waste management program.

Contrary to other provinces in Canada, Quebec municipalities have the right to legislate the use of pesticides. There are already more than 35 municipalities who have adopted bylaws to restrict the use of pesticides—some strong, some not quite so strong.

From 1991 to 1998, volunteers working on different boards and commissions prepared and sent out to residents educational flyers concerning the potential danger associated with the use of pesticides. Workshops and demonstrations on composting and ecological lawn care and gardening were given.

At that time a draft bylaw was written, but it was decided to wait for a court decision on the Municipality of Hudson's case. Hudson was the municipality sued by a chemical company challenging its right to legislate in the matter.

In April of 1998, Dr. Nicole Bruinsma made a presentation to a group of residents on the possible links between the use of pesticides and breast cancer. Over 200 residents attended the presentation. At the May 1998 council meeting, Dr. Bruinsma addressed the council members, speaking on human health hazards that could be related to the use of pesticides. Council decided to appoint a working committee to create a draft bylaw.

At this point, Hudson's legislation was validated by the court. Council members and residents have been hearing about pesticides' potential danger since 1991.

The pesticide committee was formed and consisted of a councillor, a physician, a lawyer, a researcher, and a landscape architect—all residents of Chelsea. In September of 1998 the draft bylaw was submitted to municipal staff for evaluation. Modifications were made to ensure it could be enforced. The major amendment concerned the golf course owners, who were given a five-year period to conform.

The proposed bylaw affects everyone in the municipality—residential and commercial property owners—and exempts farmers. At the time of the first draft bylaw, golf courses were also excluded.

The bylaw restricts the cosmetic use of pesticides, and I underline the word “cosmetic”. Pesticides can be used only if deemed necessary to destroy plants or animals that might constitute a danger to human health—and when I say animals, we mean bugs—or if the property is infested by insects, not weeds. A permit must be obtained from the municipality.

This bylaw was presented to the residents and contractors during a public consultation meeting held on November 16, 1998. Approximately 75 people attended. The public was generally in agreement with the adoption of such a bylaw, but they required that provisions be added to include golf courses. This request came from the public that attended this meeting.

The contractors did not attend the public consultation meeting. They did their lobbying through the association of horticulturalists of Quebec, an association that promotes integrated pest management.

Chelsea's bylaw differs from the ASHOQ position, particularly on the issuance of a permit for weed infestation. This is not permitted in Chelsea's bylaw. A permit is only issued when an infestation is confirmed by a municipal inspector.

A representative of the pesticide manufacturers attended the council meeting when the bylaw was presented for final adoption and requested council postpone its final decision. This was not done, and at the December meeting the bylaw was adopted.

The municipality ensures its staff is qualified. Documentation was sent out to residents giving them accurate information on the impact of enforcement of the new bylaw. Flyers were sent to residents to give them tips and methods of ecological lawn care and gardening. A meeting was organized between municipal staff and contractors. Free educational workshops were organized for residents and contractors.

After the first summer of enforcement of the bylaw, statistics show that only 12 pesticide permits were issued, and 21 on-site inspections were conducted.

• 0920

After having received accurate information from the municipal staff, roughly 20 residents decided to change to ecological methods to solve their problems. Approximately 60 residents and/or contractors attended free educational workshops on organic lawn and garden care.

It is very important to remember that when adopting such a bylaw restricting the use of pesticides on its territory, Chelsea council had in mind the precautionary principle and the fact that it was restricting the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes only.

It is obvious that the health problems that could possibly be related to the use of pesticides cannot be solved by Chelsea's bylaw.

We feel our decision to pass this bylaw has put our municipality one step ahead of most others with regard to protecting our environment. We also feel it is imperative that other governments get involved in taking a stand against the possibility of damage to our environment and future generations. Chelsea has taken this stand, and I for one would rather be safe than sorry.

Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much, Ms. Grant.

Now we'll hear from Mr. Detzler from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Ms. Grant, would you mind staying at the table. We're going to be asking you some questions afterwards.

For the witnesses who are new to the committee procedure, we ask that you present your brief, and then the members will have an opportunity to ask you some questions, and you will have an opportunity to respond.

Mr. Detzler, please.

Mr. Brian Detzler (Federation of Canadian Municipalities): Good morning, and thanks very much for the opportunity to present to you this morning.

I'm here presenting on behalf of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and I will share with you my personal experience in the city of Waterloo in dealing with the pesticide issue.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is an association representing over 700 municipalities and 75% of Canadians from every province across Canada.

The situation I'm going to present to you this morning is that of the city of Waterloo, and it very much emphasizes the local action being taken on pesticides across Canada. The reason it's important to highlight the local action is because typically that's where this becomes an issue of heightened media. It's the area where people first go to a politician to discuss this very issue. In doing that we hope to present to you today the need to take this issue to a much higher level, that being the federal level, with a common approach toward pesticides across Canada, and that common approach is that of pesticide reduction.

The issue we're here to talk about today is pesticides. Are they safe? Should they be banned? Would people like to see them banned? I think we all have personal answers to that as well as answers we've heard from people in our communities.

Let's talk a little bit about the issue. Using the Ontario example, is this an issue? Most certainly it is. Our figures show that in 1993, 1.3 million kilograms of pesticides were applied in Ontario. That's by licensed applicators. That's not applicators who would have gone to their local hardware store and done that on their own. It's interesting that this represents about 25% of the total amount applied compared with the agricultural side. We're talking urban applications here. So is this an issue? Absolutely. When you compare the land mass of the urban settings to that of the agricultural settings, it's proven that the urban settings are applying 25% of the pesticides. It is an issue.

So how did we approach this? We certainly wanted to look at the pesticide issue, but we realized that a pesticide ban wasn't the approach we'd like to take. We wanted to be able to use pesticides but reduce the amount we were using. We started examining alternatives, and we were going to be real responsible in the use of pesticides.

That's when we put our heads together and came up with what we in the city of Waterloo call the plant health care program. Quite simply, the plant health care program is a set of cultural practices that when consistently used in combination will promote healthy, vigorous turf growth while having the smallest possible negative environmental impact.

• 0925

That sounds like a lot of words. Quite frankly, it's a management system for green space that allows us to protect the environment. We've also found that it allows us to save money. It's not very often we find an environmental cause that can actually save us money while doing something good for the environment.

In approaching the urban pesticide issue, we certainly wanted to encourage the responsible use of pesticides and, as I said earlier, to encourage alternatives and to make people aware of the possible effects of their use of pesticides. We wanted to give people information and a choice.

The impetus for our change was that in the late 1970s and early 1980s it was very common to take the quick-fix approach to green space management, particularly in the urban setting. Routine practices of pesticide applications were standard. Things were kept very tight, for example, for grass heights. It just became the mechanical fix.

We wanted to explore alternatives. So the objectives of the change were to develop environmentally responsible practices and, most importantly, to eliminate the waste of resources, both environmental and those of our municipality.

The industrial era, which was shortly after the Second World War, really started the pesticide story. The chemical approach to green space management exploded and encouraged the thinking of green space management in mechanical, quick-fix terms. The plant health care program is nothing new. It's all about cultural practices, and in agriculture those cultural practices have existed for years. During the industrial era the use of newer technologies and the quicker fix overtook the approach people were taking to green space management. That's where most of the research money had been spent from that time to this, which is why we have a lot of research into chemical applications and not extensive research in and promotion of alternative methods.

Most importantly, we recognize that we're dealing with living organisms, and we go back to the natural or cultural approach to green space management.

The system efficiently deploys our resources. It eliminates waste and duplication, and it achieves a higher level of quality, something that may not typically be associated with a pesticide reduction program. We have proof and examples of how our green space quality actually has improved as a result of our pesticide reduction program.

The key to this is how it has been accomplished. It's a group effort. It's an educational effort. It's getting people back to the roots and the common sense revolution as far as maintaining green space is concerned. It requires the involvement and commitment of the people implementing the program. It requires a redefinition of work. It enhances organizational reform to focus on particularly where this happens. At the front line the staff make the decisions. It takes political will and most certainly requires citizen involvement. Key to the program is citizen involvement.

The result we've been able to see is that we've achieved an organizational innovation that virtually eliminates pesticides in the urban setting. It improves green space quality, it increases productivity, and most importantly it works.

Over the years we've seen barriers to implementing this type of program. Part of the reason I'm here today representing FCM is that one of the barriers is that it's very local, and there seems to be a need for it to become a much broader approach, an accepted approach, and a promoted approach across Canada.

Professionals in the park and landscape industries know about this program. They know how to do this program. The barrier is that the people who are making decisions for them to implement the program aren't knowledgeable and aren't tuned into an accepted approach in this regard. That's why we see this as a barrier.

• 0930

That's why we very much propose a national strategy for pesticide reduction that will assist all municipal governments to encourage responsible uses of pesticides, encourage alternative management strategies, and make people aware of the effects their use of pesticides may have.

What are the costs associated with implementing this program? It's all dependent on the current commitment in any setting, the current status, the desire to change, and at what speed the change is to take place.

I can say to you that costs are not what kills a program; people do.

To give you an idea of the results possible, in the city of Waterloo, since 1991 we've experienced a 53% increase in our green space and a 57% decrease in our cost to maintain that green space.

So what are the steps to implementation? It takes commitment and belief. It takes corporate commitment, civic commitment, and leadership by example.

The need for federal leadership is why we're here today to make this proposal. I have had the opportunity to also work with the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention, and I've had communication with the Delphi Group, who in tandem are making this application with FCM.

The federal government has a strong mandate to ensure the reduction of toxic substances into the environment, and we require federal leadership to harmonize provincial and municipal approaches on a subject that knows no borders.

Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much, Mr. Detzler.

Our next witness is Merryl Hammond from Citizens for Alternatives to Pesticides. Welcome to the committee.

Ms. Merryl Hammond (Founder, Citizens for Alternatives to Pesticides): Thank you very much. I really appreciate having the time to make a presentation today.

Do all the members have a copy of the brief I submitted? Okay. I'm just going to take one minute or so to tell you a little bit about my background.

Why am I here today? I started life as a nurse. My accent is from South Africa. I've been in Canada for 11 years now. I've trained as a nurse, a midwife, a community health nurse, a nurse educator, and a nurse administrator. I went back to university and did an honours and masters in sociology, and then a doctorate in adult education and community health.

While there, I was working at the University of Witwaterstrand medical school—it's like the McGill equivalent in South Africa—and published, among other things, these three textbooks on community health. I was the first editor.

In the first book, which is all about how to measure community health or monitor what's going on, I was the author or co-author of four of the six chapters, called “Doing Research”.

I tell you that just to establish that epidemiology is a deep interest of mine. It's a competency that I have, so I'm able to assess the so-called studies that are used by pesticide proponents and people against pesticides. I can assess which studies are worth worrying about and which are not. We need to know that there is a lot of junk science out there, and we need to be critical when assessing the data.

Apart from that, when I came to Canada, I had never seen the use of pesticides in urban and suburban areas in South Africa the way we use them here, so my eyes were fresh and I started asking questions: What is going on here? What are we doing? What are these huge trucks coming into suburban areas? What's it all about? There must be something incredible happening in Canada that doesn't happen elsewhere.

My neighbours were surprised, because they just took it for granted. So maybe having a fresh eye helped.

I intend to read very briefly through the brief, stopping at a couple of key points that I really want to elaborate on.

I'm saying that there's an urgent call for long overdue changes on the cosmetic use of pesticides here in Canada.

• 0935

Firstly, chemical pesticides are inherently toxic products created to kill various life forms and deliberately released into the environment. Ecological non-toxic methods of pest management do exist—you've just been hearing from Brian and you'll be hearing more from other witnesses about that.

Every Canadian is affected by this problem—we are all exposed to pesticides in the air, soil, water, and food, so it's really of great national importance. Babies, children, youth, pregnant women, the elderly, the asthmatic, the chemically sensitive, and other susceptible Canadians are currently being exposed to a variety of pesticides in their homes, gardens, schools, workplaces, parks, sports fields, and neighbourhoods. You'll notice that many of those groups I've just mentioned are very susceptible. Babies, fetuses whose cells are being formed, and children and youth who are growing very rapidly are all at particularly high risk for the ill effects of pesticides.

Suburban lawns and golf courses are even more heavily treated with pesticides than agricultural areas—and we were hearing a little bit about the rates, the incredible amounts of pesticides that are applied. Both the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. and the Erie County Unit of the American Cancer Society have published documents in which the role of pesticides in cancer causation is highlighted. I've brought a couple of these documents; they're being translated into French as well. They warn that the use of pesticides may be hazardous to your health. I'd be happy to pass those around if people would like to keep a copy.

It was groundbreaking when these organizations from within the so-called cancer industry spoke out about pesticides. This was about 1994, I believe, that this document was published. There's no date on it, unfortunately. But they are blowing the whistle.

We come to clause 6, and this is a big one.

Many studies published in prestigious, peer-reviewed medical and epidemiological journals and reports point to strong associations between chemical pesticides and serious health consequences, including—and I'll just read this list briefly—endocrine disruption and fertility problems, birth defects, brain tumours and brain cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, childhood leukemia, cancer clusters in communities, gastric or stomach cancer, learning disabilities, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, canine malignant lymphoma, and various acute effects.

You can see from the list of references at the bottom of pages 2 and 3 that...well, maybe I'll just take a minute to say why I mention the many studies published in prestigious, peer-reviewed medical and epidemiological journals. I've brought a pile of those studies here. If you read the journal titles in references 5 to 35, which is all about these health effects....

Let's have a look at them. Reference 5 is from the Environmental Health Perspectives journal. The next ones are the British Medical Journal and the Journal of Endocrinology. The next two are from The Lancet, which is probably the most famous medical journal on the planet. Then there's Environmental Health Perspectives, the American Journal of Epidemiology, Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, International Journal of Cancer, and so on. These are journals that are peer reviewed. In other words, doctors and epidemiologists decide which studies are worth publishing.

If you submit a piece of work to them that has a small sample size or whose methodology was in some way inadequate, they will not publish. It's as simple as that.

I'll skip ahead a little bit. There's footnote 41 later on that talks about the safety of 2,4-D, which is the major herbicide used on the planet, and I've brought the two articles that are referenced there. This is not a peer-reviewed medical journal. The folks from Guelph University, God bless them all, are trying to convince us that 2,4-D is safe. And they've you can see, it's not even typeset. When you read it there are spelling errors—they don't even have a proofreader. There's a word on page 26 of this particular article “liquid formulation” that's spelled formu“lati8on”. They couldn't even proofread it, okay? In the other article, there are a couple of sentences left out, and somebody had to come with handwriting and add it in. It made absolutely no sense, as it was published.

• 0940

I'm just saying be very careful when you hear, “But they've published studies that say 2,4-D is safe in Guelph”—Guelph University, mind you. Please be very critical of who published the stuff and what methodology was used.

It's a joke. No first-year university student would want to submit a project like this, but professors at Guelph University, as I've said—God bless them all—are publishing this stuff. Please be careful. Be critical.

I've listed here, in footnotes 5 to 35, reputable medical journals telling us: “Be careful. Pesticides are causing serious health effects.”

That was clause 6.

Clause 7: the following respected health-related organizations formally supported CAP's call for a moratorium on the cosmetic use of pesticides. CAP is the Citizens for Alternatives to Pesticides community group, which I started in 1992. In 1994 we approached all the medical organizations we could contact to say, “Please, let's get together and ask the government to put on a moratorium.” We didn't use the word “ban”, because we Canadians are very conservative here, so we said “moratorium”. We said, “Until they are proven to be safe, let's be careful of the cosmetic use of pesticides.” We weren't talking about farming, just cosmetic use in residential areas.

The following organizations wrote letters of support—I have them right here if you want to see them—saying, “Yes, we support CAP's call for a moratorium.” The Allergy Asthma Information Association, the Canadian Dental Association, the Canadian Liver Foundation, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, the Canadian Society for Environmental Medicine, etc., all supported our call. And that's dating back to 1994.

We did meet with the Minister of Health at that time, Diane Marleau. We brought the information to her and said, “Please, we need leadership from the federal government.” At that time we were working town by town by town in Quebec, passing pesticide bylaws. God bless us all.

But it's too urgent. It's affecting too many of us. It's too serious to take the time to go one town by one town by one town. In Quebec alone, we have 1,492 municipalities. It's too much work for some of us to do. So that's why we really are appealing to the federal government.

I'm on clause 8. There is increasing evidence that pesticides and other synthetic chemicals pose serious threats to the environment. Again, many other witnesses I'm sure are informing you about that.

Clause 9, the chemical pesticide industry is part of an even larger, multibillion-dollar, global pharmaceutical industry with massive vested interests in the continued use of pesticide products and with virtually unlimited funds to silence potential critics and to influence public opinion and government officials.

There is a footnote explaining something about the links between these two industries, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. If you look at my list in clause 7, why did the Canadian Medical Association not sign up? I really believe the links between pesticides and pharmaceuticals are too strong. They are owned by the same companies. All of medicine—all the conferences, the journals.... If you look at the adverts in the journals, it's all about pharmaceuticals, i.e. pesticide parent companies.

There's a huge...I won't use the word “conspiracy”, but maybe a collusion of silence around this issue, whereas nurses and dentists and physiotherapists don't have that same link.

You will find doctors to speak out. I believe some of them are coming tomorrow. But they are rare.

Clause 10, the bulk of the so-called safety tests used to test these products are fundamentally inadequate. Toxicological studies are done by pesticide manufacturers, not objective researchers, and they measure the acute, not chronic, effects of single, not multiple, chemicals. We're exposed to multiple chemicals in our neighbourhoods. And they measure the acute but not the chronic effects on healthy, not sick; adult, not fetal or child; animal, not human; subjects exposed over very short, not long, periods of time.

• 0945

So when you look at the reality that faces Canadians, we are exposed to a chemical soup of things that affect us year after year after year, and we're getting chronic effects of them. But the tests we use to assess whether a chemical can be registered or not were done on rats' short-term exposure. You can't compare. You can't make reasonable conclusions.

The very limited tests done on agricultural workers for occupational exposure are totally inadequate. I'll just take a minute to do a little quiz here. What if we were designing a study to register some new pesticides? Say somebody has dreamed up some fantastic new product and they want to register it for use in Canada, but it's going to be used by farmers. How many farmers would we want to include in our sample before we approved this product?

What are we looking for? A number of farmers. I know you're not epidemiologists, but work with me here. What sort of sample size are we looking for? Would ten or fifteen farmers do it? Do you want a hundred or two hundred farmers? Do you want a thousand farmers? It's a new chemical that's never been used before. Any offers?

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Generally the larger the better.

Ms. Merryl Hammond: Generally the larger the sample the better. Okay, that's great. I would look for thousands, frankly.

But no, we don't. A chemical was accepted for use in Canada; thirteen farmers were occupationally exposed to it.

For how long? It's a new chemical. We don't know what it's going to do to anybody. For how long should we expose this large sample? Ideally a full season or two of use to see what might happen.

For four to seven hours they were exposed—one working day. Half of them were in enclosed tractors; some were in open-cab tractors. That's four to seven hours and thirteen farmers.

But it gets worse. This is all in footnote 40. The chemical that was being registered was called Imazethapyr, but the surrogate chemical we accepted was totally different. They said it was chemically similar, but it was metabolized differently in the human body. The company told us that.

So in this country in March 1994, we registered Imazethapyr, nicknamed Pursuit, but the tests had been done on a pesticide called Assert. Those tests I've just told you about—on thirteen farmers for four to seven hours—were on a totally different chemical. But because of the system we have, that was deemed adequate. That was the occupational safety test for Imazethapyr. The decision document is dated 30 March 1994.

When I read that, I could not believe my eyes. At that point I got really radical.

That relates to clause 13: the government officials and staff responsible for pesticide registration are inappropriately trained and/or under-qualified and therefore unable to do their work with any competence.

Who could accept that study I've just given you the example of? And this is one example. When you read the decision document, the trend becomes very clear. Nobody is asking questions about bystanders or community members. These were thirteen healthy adult male farmers exposed for four to seven hours to the wrong chemical, and we in Canada accepted that as a safety test. There's something radically wrong.

The folks I interviewed at the plant industry directorate, everywhere I went.... I spent about three months on the phone to Ottawa trying to find somebody in the system who could relate to my community health concerns. There was no soul. We have BSCs in chemistry, their bosses are MSCs in chemistry or toxicology, and the bosses of the bosses are PhDs in chemistry or toxicology. There is nobody with a nursing, medical, or other strong health background. They are not asking community health-related questions. Their paradigm is totally different. They're not turning around to look at what's happening in communities. I'm asking who's monitoring what's going down? Oh, they say, it's not our job; we just register the thing. There's a huge gaping hole.

• 0950

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Dr. Hammond, it's with a great deal of regret that I ask you to move on. Your testimony is very fascinating and it's very well documented, but we are running a bit short on time, so perhaps if you could summarize—

Ms. Merryl Hammond: I'll stop right there, but my main points were about the registration system and the quality of the research that has been done.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Just tell us a bit about your recommendations.

Ms. Merryl Hammond: Yes, let's flip to page 7 then.

Given all those things, I call on the federal government to ensure that the pesticide registration system in Canada protects the health, safety, and well-being of all Canadians by taking the following steps.

Introduce an immediate moratorium on the cosmetic use of chemical pesticides in residential areas until such time as their use has been scientifically proven to be safe and the long-term consequences of their application in residential areas are known.

Appoint people with demonstrated competence in the fields of pesticides and public health and pesticides and the environment, and with professional qualifications in medicine, nursing, public health, epidemiology, and clinical toxicology, as well as chemical and animal toxicology, which we now have, to staff the Pest Management Regulatory Agency and to draft appropriate guidelines for safety tests to be submitted by manufacturers.

Use conventional epidemiological standards to evaluate the data submitted by pesticide manufacturers.

Insist that all data sets submitted by manufacturers include detailed results of occupational, bystander, and community exposure studies.

Require registrants to submit additional occupational bystander and community exposure data and environmental fate data maybe three to five years after initial registration so that we monitor what is going on.

Initiate a national health education campaign about the health effects of pesticide exposures and ecological alternatives to pesticides.

Make all pesticide-related morbidity and mortality medically reportable conditions.

Ensure adequate diagnostic and treatment facilities for victims of pesticide exposure, and there are many in Canada.

Finally, make chemical manufacturers disclose all the contents, including so-called inert ingredients or formulants, of pesticide products on their labels and print clear health warnings on the labels.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much, Dr. Hammond.

Our next witness then is Andrea Lockwood with Action Chelsea for the Respect of the Environment. Welcome this morning.

Ms. Andrea Lockwood (Coordinator, Action Chelsea for the Respect of the Environment): Thank you.

It means an awful lot to me to have an opportunity to come and speak to you. I'm here as a member of the people out there whose lives and health are being affected by the decisions that are being made or, more importantly, aren't being made by both federal and provincial governments. I guess I'm an example of the citizen involvement of which Mr. Detzler was speaking.

I represent a group that's referred to as ACRE, Action Chelsea for the Respect of the Environment, or Action Chelsea pour le respect de l'environnement, in Chelsea.

We're a lobby group made up of individuals who live in that municipality. All of us have different backgrounds, different jobs, different levels of education, but we're all committed to one thing, and generally in a nutshell that's to both our own health and the health of our children.

Mayor Grant has given you a brief synopsis of what's happened in Chelsea, and briefly I have absolutely no disagreement with what she said.

In 1998 the Municipality of Chelsea passed a bylaw. That bylaw restricts and prohibits the cosmetic application of chemical pesticides in a number of instances, but not all. There are instances in Chelsea where pesticides can still continue to be applied. I've set out in my brief a basic synopsis of what the points of the bylaw are.

• 0955

But what I'd like to speak to you about is why we did this, why we lobbied, because we're not the same thing as the municipality. Both Mayor Grant and I will come and tell you that I think we're both darn proud of what we managed to do, but I think we're both terribly and frighteningly aware that, as Dr. Hammond has said, what we've been able to do is a real drop in the bucket.

There are somewhere around 40 municipalities in Quebec now that have passed bylaws similar to the one in Chelsea. That's nothing. These pesticides we're concerned about don't respect political boundaries. They don't respect the fact that when one individual may decide to apply a pesticide on his own property, that pesticide may very well end up in the drinking water or the air the neighbour next door is breathing.

And what I'd like to tell you or make really, really clear to you is that the people in Chelsea really cared about this and they've cared about this for a really long time.

Now, I hope you know where Chelsea is. It's 20 minutes from here. It's an absolutely beautiful municipality. It's located beside and close to the Gatineau Park. Mayor Grant has told me that I have two errors in my brief. One is that it's not technically a semi-rural municipality. Legally, it is a rural municipality. Everybody in that municipality is on a well and septic system, which means if you put something on your lawn, it ends up in what you are drinking or what your neighbour is drinking or what your neighbour's kid is drinking. And if you spray something on your tree, it ends up in the air you're breathing or your neighbour's kid is breathing. And we're aware of that.

Sixty-six percent of the municipality is comprised of the Gatineau Park. Chelsea is a great municipality. There's just absolutely no other way to phrase it. It's got a very highly educated, very literate, very well-informed population. Those are the people who, when given the kind of information we were able to provide to them over the course of the last several years, decided that, my goodness—like you sitting around this table, you're hearing what Dr. Hammond has to say. You're hearing her reading what a number of these other people are saying.

At no point in time did we ever say we can prove that if you take this pesticide, you will end up with this disease. We can't do that. What we did say is there is a risk, because we don't know if you take this pesticide in conjunction with all of the other contaminants that are out there in the environment, and if some person, either a normal healthy 40-year-old male or a small infant two months of age or another vulnerable member of our society, if they're exposed to that chemical pesticide in conjunction with all these other things, they might end up sick.

Do you think the fact that you may have some dandelions on your lawn, and rather than going out with a spade or an Aquacide or dumping steaming water on it, you can simply have somebody come in and broadcast spray all over your property and you won't have any more dandelions—do you think balancing these two risks that we should have people coming up and spraying all over our territory? And the overwhelming response was, are you kidding? And doesn't that just seem like common sense? That's exactly the response we got.

In fact, when we originally drafted our bylaw, it was drafted in such a way that we focused on what we felt we were able to focus on. I mean, we're a little municipality. We've got 6,000 people. We can't go out and do all the kinds of testing the government should be doing.

But we thought we could take a look at the cosmetic application of these pesticides. So we limited our original version of the bylaw to only people's lawns. We presented the draft of the bylaw to the public, and the overwhelming response was “But what about the golf courses?” People came up to us and said, I know that in the spring when the golf courses are applying their pesticides, I can smell it and my kid gets sick. And it's wonderful, it's sunny, it's bright, there are butterflies out, there are birds singing in the trees—and my kid's inside the house with the air conditioner on and the windows closed because he gets sick.

So we asked for people to come both to the presentation and afterward, and to provide us with written comments, and the vast majority of those comments were: “Make your bylaw stronger. You've got to make it stronger. You've got to apply it to the golf courses.”

Now it wasn't our intention—never has been, and I assume never will be—to put the golf courses out of business. There are two of them in the municipality. The bylaw, as it was finally passed, was revised to include a five-year period for the golf courses to wean themselves gradually off their use of pesticides.

• 1000

That whole bylaw may sound like something that came fairly quickly. It was anything but. The whole concept around the bylaw first started in approximately 1993. My memory is not so good any more, but it was around 1993 that the environment commission that then existed in Chelsea decided it would look into drafting a bylaw. We became aware of the fact that there was a similar bylaw in Hudson at that time, and we used Dr. Hammond's book. It's a great resource. We were aware that there were approximately five or six other municipalities in Quebec that had similar bylaws. The most restrictive and the one that received the most attention was Hudson's bylaw.

Last night, in preparation for today's presentation, I reread a copy of the two judicial decisions that have been rendered so far in Hudson. Of course, from what I understand, that municipality is not a big municipality with all sorts of money, but that bylaw has been taken to court twice now.

I reread the lower court decision that was rendered in 1993, and in reading that I noted that the trial court found as evidence that the Municipality of Hudson had been receiving petitions from its residents since 1985. I don't know what they did from 1985 to 1990, but finally in the early 1990s they passed their bylaw. The bylaw was passed, it was challenged in court in 1992, and it survived the first court challenge in 1993. That wasn't enough. It was appealed up to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal decision was rendered in 1998, and, again, it found that the municipalities were exercising appropriately their legislative authority to protect the health and the best interests of the members of their community. That wasn't enough, and the pesticide companies, the chemical companies, have appealed it even higher. It's now before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Who has what interest here? Quite clearly, we have a municipality that two levels of court have found are appropriately exercising their responsibility to protect the health of their residents, and we have chemical companies who want money. That's what it comes down to.

There is a lack of action at both the federal and the provincial levels to do what the municipalities in Quebec are now doing. I know it's not just the municipalities in Quebec. Mr. Detzler has told you that. There is a level of concern and worry at the grassroots level right across the country. That's basically what I want to tell you.

I've submitted a six-page brief here telling you over and over again the same thing. Most of the recommendations and the conclusions I have submitted in my brief, I know you have seen before. I'm begging you to do something about this situation, because it's crucial. How much more fundamental can you get than people's health?

In the conclusions, I've basically told you that the members of ACRE are really concerned about their health, the health of their environment, and the health of their kids. As Dr. Hammond has told you, the kind of testing that needs to be done is not being done, and in some cases it can't be done. How can you possibly take one chemical and look at how it's going to affect people 20 years down the line when it's in thousands of different formulations? But there are certain basic things that can be done so that you can at least start to reduce our risk and reduce our exposure.

I've set some of our recommendations out in the last two pages of my brief. I join with Dr. Hammond in asking for a moratorium, a ban, or whatever you want to call it, on the cosmetic use of pesticides. It's a small step, but it's a step in the right direction, and it will achieve something.

The other point I'd like to make is that I think there's a real analogy here between the use of chemical pesticides and cigarette smoking.

• 1005

When you take a look at things—and we didn't poll every single resident in Chelsea to find out whether or not they agreed with the bylaw, but the majority certainly did—there were some people in Chelsea who came up, and do you know what they'd say? They'd say, you people are overreacting, because the government says you can use this stuff. There it is, it's out there in the store, and I can go in and buy it. If I want to dump ten times as much stuff as it says on the package I should dump, or if I want to dump it at any time of the day, I can do it whenever I want. If it wasn't safe, the government wouldn't let me buy it and wouldn't let me use it.

That's not true, is it? You know that and I know that, but they don't know it. Maybe just by putting some sort of a warning on the fronts of these packages, similar to the warnings you have to have on a cigarette package, saying if you want to use this product and you want to maybe make yourself sick and maybe make the people beside you sick, at least know when you're using it that you might be doing that. Right now, how can you ask people to take responsibility for their actions or to change their actions when they're uninformed?

That's what happened in Chelsea. People became informed, and they decided, oh, my God, we're going to change here.

I have some suggested language in section 11 of my recommendations, but you don't have to take my wording. If you can come up with something better, go right ahead.

I'm asking you to act in accordance with the precautionary principle. I'm asking you to toughen up your testing. I'm asking you to change the system so that persistent and biocumulative pesticides are deregistered. I'm asking you to do what I think most people out there think is being done: that the products that are being used are being effectively tested; that if they're registered, they are safe; that if new information comes up that shows they aren't safe, you deregister them; and that you proceed in a manner that educates and informs the population so they know and understand what these products do or may do and what the result of their actions may be.

I know we're under some time constraints, so I'll stop there.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much.

Our final witness this morning is Edith Smeesters, who is the president of Nature-Action Québec.



Ms. Edith Smeesters (President, Nature-Action Québec): Good morning. May I speak in French?

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Yes, please do.


Madame Girard-Bujold will appreciate it.


Ms. Edith Smeesters: I believe you have already received a copy of my brief. First of all, thank you for inviting me to share our opinions with you. I am the president of a group called Nature- Action Québec. My training is in biology, which goes back 30 years now, but I've kept up to date in practice.

In the introduction to our brief, you will find explanations of our various activities. Nature-Action Québec was first created to do something about the misuse of pesticides in urban areas. At first, we were a small group of volunteers that included biologists, physicians, chemists and ordinary citizens who had become ill because of chemicals used in their neighbourhood.

Unfortunately, we were unable to stick solely to that objective, because we got caught in the trap of government grants. The government gives us funding, but never on an ongoing basis. One year we can focus on pesticides, but another year we have to work on something else if we want to continue existing. For example, we might have to look at water issues. We believe that this is a very good thing, because it has forced us to expand our activities. At present, we have a shoreline stabilisation project, a tree-planting project and all kinds of other activities. In the final analysis, we are all over the place.

We even run several business activities in Mont Saint-Bruno Park, because we live on Mont Saint-Bruno. The government has asked us to handle a number of activities, including management of a 1,200-tree apple orchard that we converted into an organic operation three years ago and which has been very successful. It has been a very interesting experience, because 500,000 people visit Mont Saint-Bruno Park each year. Our work can be as simple as explaining to people that it is not dangerous to eat an apple with a little blemish and that it won't kill them. We have succeeded in convincing people to become very, very tolerant.

I'd now like to move to the issue on today's agenda. The whole problem of pesticides is very broad. As Merryl Hammond mentioned, all kinds of products have been registered, but they were not always registered in an entirely safe way.

• 1010

One of the major problems that we are currently dealing with is that when we try to make the government aware of these issues, the various levels of government pass the buck.

Recently I wrote to our federal member of Parliament, and when she replied, she said that she had nothing to do with that issue and that I should talk to my municipality and its environmental committee. So when I sent her a letter in order to do something about a national problem, she told me to turn to my local environmental committee. There's a problem there.

I also turned to the provincial government, sending letters to Ms. Marois and Mr. Bégin. Their response was that this was not a priority for the time being and that the federal government was not doing its work. We are constantly being referred from one level of government to another.

I sit on my municipality's environmental committee. We've been talking about waste for a year. There are so many problems with that that we're told once again that we don't have the necessary jurisdiction. As Ms. Lockwood just said, the municipalities tell us that they don't have experts in this area and that the federal government or the provincial government should solve the problem. In the final analysis, we get nowhere.

While governments are passing the buck, thousands of people are being exposed to larger and larger doses of pesticides every day. Let me refer you to a report that was published by the Quebec Ministry of the Environment on July 9, 1998, which reports that since 1992, sales of pesticides used for horticultural purposes in Quebec have increased by 60%. Even though farmers use more pesticides in absolute terms, we are far more exposed to them in urban areas. The people who apply the pesticides are not protected, and the people who are exposed to these pesticides don't know it and are not protected. I cannot overly stress the dangers of pesticides, which other people have already strongly denounced before this committee.

I would particularly like to tell you about the alternatives, because our organization has specialized somewhat in that area. Indeed, we just carried out a review of the literature for the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture. The review has not yet been officially released, although it has been submitted to the Agriculture Ministry, which will provide it to members of the public who are interested. In this literature review, we clearly show that there are alternatives, even for apple growing, which is an extremely complicated field because apples are one of the crops that are sprayed with pesticides the most, in any event, in the Quebec region. We see that this really is a question of tolerance, knowledge and good will.

I am currently sitting on a committee that also has representatives from the Agriculture Ministry and the Quebec apple growers' federation. What I see is that people really aren't willing to change. Because we applied some pressure, we opted for integrated pest management, but people seem to think that completely doing away with pesticide use is totally off the wall. I had to apply a great deal of pressure to get people to finally agree to doing a literature review.

I'd now like to move to pesticide use in urban settings, an area in which I have a great deal more expertise. We have been conducting a pilot project for two years on approximately 30 private lots, most of which had been treated with chemicals in the past. We convinced 30 home owners to use environmentally friendly methods. The project went very well. The first year, we had an infestation of hairy chinch bugs on a few lawns, and we were able to solve the problem using cultivation methods and organic products. It is possible to go organic.

There are a few basic points that people really need to consider. Unfortunately, most of our lawns are laid on ground that is completely unsuitable. Generally speaking, in new developments, sod is laid over backfill. There's hardly any good earth. Since plants derive their energy from the soil, if their roots cannot sink deep into a healthy soil, obviously you are going to have problems. Most lawns are laid on bad ground. In the final analysis, we grow grass almost hydroponically, and we find ourselves stuck in a vicious circle.

I'd also like to make one other very important point: you have to sow the right variety in the right place. Many people grow lawns in wooded areas or on steep slopes. Even here, on Parliament Hill, I saw that sod had been laid on a slope. Given our summers, it's absolutely ridiculous to do that. The sod will not be able to take it. Grass needs water. Do people think this is England where it rains all the time? People here in Canada try to grow grass in areas that are completely inappropriate.

• 1015

A number of maintenance techniques can be very useful, such as mowing grass higher. The higher you let the grass grow, the more energy it will have. Most lawns are mown as if they were golf courses; people think of the golf greens. People living in the suburbs think that's nirvana. That lawn that's as green as a golf course is a serious problem.

And in the final analysis, the biggest problem is biodiversity. Advertising tries to sell us the virtues of growing a single variety of seed and the perfect lawn, once again, the golf green. When we talk to people about accepting a few dandelions, plantains and knotweed, people think that's heresy. However, it is impossible to have an organic lawn with a single variety of grass; monocultures do not exist in nature. There should be advertising telling people about this.

A few weeks ago I was speaking with an official from the ASHOQ, the Quebec ornamental horticulture services association. He was asking me what he could do to help us. He wanted to suggest that I work with members of his association. I told him that he could place some ads to convince people to accept dandelions. In the spring I received advertising showing a lady panic stricken on a lawn who cries out, “Oh my goodness, the invaders!” People are sold this image of invaders that they absolutely have to get rid of. Please provide some funding so that people will accept biodiversity and nature.

Often people ask us what they can do to fight infestations. These infestations are the symptoms of a problem. I've had a lawn for 25 years, and it has never had an infestation. The first one that I saw was when we were doing the pilot project in Beloeil. The people having problems were stuck in the vicious cycle of chemical use. When you have some biodiversity, you don't have these problems. The hairy chinch bug only attacks grasses. When your lawn contains clover and all kinds of other plants, the hairy chinch bugs eat a few grasses, but they don't destroy your entire lawn because there are other plants in it, not just grasses.

All you need for organic gardening is some common sense, but the advertising tries to sell us something that is not natural at all. That's why we're struck in a vicious circle.

Many of my recommendations are similar to those that my predecessors made. I would add that we absolutely must coordinate efforts to solve the pesticide problem and the federal, provincial and municipal governments must stop passing the buck. It makes no sense. Most of us are ordinary citizens who have come here as volunteers. We've had it up to here with our being referred from one level of government to another.

I, like many people before me, am asking for a ban on the use of pesticides for aesthetic purposes. It is absolutely unacceptable to allow people to apply chemicals just to have the nicest lawn on the block.

In the final analysis, this whole question of beauty is linked closely to advertising. Give me the budget of companies like Chemlawn and I will see to it that tomorrow everyone will be eating dandelions. It's all a matter of advertising: you tell people to eat Hygrade sausages and they eat them; you tell people to go to McDonalds, and they go to McDonalds. Give me the funding and I will convince people that dandelions are beautiful.

Indeed, that's what I'm trying to do in a book that Les Éditions Broquet will be publishing in March 2000. I wrote this book as an individual and we got a grant to film a video. We are going to convince people that biodiversity is the best thing for a lawn. But we need funding to reach that goal.

We applied for a grant from the Millennium Partnership Program to have the video translated into English and distributed throughout Canada, but the application was turned down. Do you know why? We were told that we could make money with the project. That's dangerous for an environmental group. Just imagine, we could make money with it!

We are presenting this application again today. Actually, today is the deadline to do so. I hope that you will support us and that some of you will send me letters of support. I have the impression that we are going to need some political support.

As we have already said, all pesticides should be evaluated and we should ban pesticides that are highly toxic. We should know the inert ingredients that are found in pesticides.

My main recommendation is the following: please free up budgets for education. We have been trying for 13 years to educate people. At the beginning, this work was done thanks to volunteers, and afterwards, by programs where we couldn't repeat the same subject from one year to the next. It's as though we were a charitable organization. We are fighting against giants who have absolutely incredible means to convince people that they must have these monocultures and that their survival depends upon it.

So in the end, I'm beginning to realize that the future of our country is being directed by financial interests, while a few volunteers are trying to promote the perspective of the average Canadian, without any means. Please, provide us with the means to promote a perspective that isn't linked to financial gain.

• 1020

These are the point that I wanted to defend. Thank you for listening.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much, Ms. Smeesters.


Because the committee started late—due to the tardiness of members, we were about half an hour late in starting—I felt it was important to show respect to our witnesses and give them the length of time they needed for their briefs. However, we're going to be very short in our opportunity for questioning, so we're going to limit everybody to five minutes. I ask the members to ask very short, concise questions that are to the point, so that we can get an adequate response from the witnesses. If you could make your responses short and to the point, I would appreciate that as well.

Mr. Jaffer.

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, Ref.): Thank you. I would like to thank everyone for their presentations. I found it very useful and interesting as well.

In reviewing a couple of briefs, especially the Nature-Action Québec and ACRE ones, I noticed there was a claim that the studies conducted to establish maximum residue limits do not take into account the nervous systems of infants and small children. Yet the Crop Protection Institute, which we had in last week, in its submission to the committee claimed that Health Canada includes both of these two groups, and each maximum residue limit has a built-in safety margin setting, the final safe level, at a minimum of at least 100 times below the limit that would cause any possible health problems.

I'm wondering if some of you may have comments on that, specifically Nature-Action Québec or ACRE.


Ms. Edith Smeesters: I think that this question regarding toxicity would be best answered by Ms. Hammond.


Ms. Merryl Hammond: The Crop Protection Institute is a lobby group of industry. They have paid staff who travel around. In fact, when many of us were trying to get bylaws passed in Quebec, folk would come from the Crop Protection Institute to try to convince our mayors of these kinds of things.

Mr. Rahim Jaffer: But that limit was set by Health Canada, though. Is that right?

Ms. Merryl Hammond: But Health Canada is the same one that accepted the study of thirteen farmers exposed for four to seven hours. So when they say neurological tests have been done, they're talking about rats exposed for short periods of time in highly questionable studies that government is not checking.

In my book there are some references to people in industrial biotech who've been sent to jail. In 1976, audits in the United States found serious deficiencies in tests performed by industrial biotech laboratories and used to support the registration of pesticides in the U.S. and Canada. In an investigation by the two federal governments, 801 out of 1,205 health studies were found to be invalid.

In 1990, charges were laid against staff at Craven Laboratories of Texas, which had allegedly falsified residue and environmental site studies of pesticides. Seventeen defendants were sentenced to fines or probation and the owner got five years in prison.

Again, just be aware that the so-called system that is out there is flawed from top to bottom. When you have a witness from the Crop Protection Institute, behind them is standing a huge pesticide industry, as I have explained in my brief.

Mr. Rahim Jaffer: I realize that.

I would ask you to address this. You outlined in your brief specifically that there is the problem of inappropriately trained or underqualified people within the system. Specifically within the PMRA, it sets out, I remember hearing, about 200 different guidelines for these chemical companies, and various other tests that need to be applied to products.

Going through these specific tests...I know when you outline the example where there is the problem with the 13 farmers.... In the case of something like that, if they do have all these tests, and I realize you mentioned that they may not be as detailed as you'd like.... In some of the evaluations that the PMRA may use, they have to combine the research that's being done, say, on behalf of these companies on various products. Obviously resources are limited, and as much as we'd like to accommodate larger budgets and so on....

Isn't there some validity to some of this research that's obviously being done by these companies? If their products are that harmful, then consumers are going to be affected by it, and therefore there's going to be larger consumer action taken on these companies?

• 1025

Ms. Merryl Hammond: Consider the tobacco industry. For how many years have they been telling us it's safe to smoke cigarettes? It's the same story. Folks are paid to do invalid research, or frankly deceitful research, and to submit it so that some bureaucrat will put the right stamp at the right time, so that the product can be sold. It's as simple as that.

When you say, surely people would be getting sick, people are getting sick. People are dying from pesticide exposure. Study after study after study in reputable medical journals is ringing that bell. As was said, we can't say that this particular chemical applied on that particular day caused this particular cancer cell. But when study after study after study—the pile is getting bigger and bigger—is saying people using these things, people exposed, people whose parents use it on their lawns, are getting brain cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, you name it, somebody has to stop and say the writing is on the wall and we can't rely on those people who are paid to produce pesticides to give us accurate information.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Mayor Grant, very briefly, please.

Ms. Judy Grant: I'd like to add something to this, on a personal note. My son was golfing on a golf course that had just finished spraying. He was not kept off the golf course. He slid off a golf cart and within two hours his legs, from the ankles to the knees, were covered with burns. They were burns that left bags of water, so I would say it was probably a second-degree burn. When I called all over, I was told that 2,4-D couldn't possibly have done that. That's the only thing he landed in. So I have a hard time believing that some of these studies that were supposedly done were done very thoroughly.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you Mayor Grant.

Madame Girard-Bujold.

Ms. Andrea Lockwood: I believe our researcher Noha Fuad would like to respond as well, because you did direct the question to both ACRE and Nature-Action.

The Chair: Sure, briefly. I'm sorry, we have a lack of time and everyone wants to ask a question. Could you give your name?


Ms. Noha Fuad (Coordinator, Action Chelsea for the Respect of the Environment): My name is Noha Fuad and I will answer the question in French.

A few years ago, I carried out a study on acceptable daily doses. I imagined the worst scenario and supposed a child ate fruits and vegetables that contained the maximum acceptable dose. Considering children's average consumption, I found that if a child ingested the maximum acceptable dose in all of the fruits eaten, that this child would have ingested much more than the dose allowed for an adult, because children weigh less and because their average consumption of fruits and vegetables is different from the average consumption of fruits and vegetables by adults. This is something we need to take into consideration. I have seen such cases with a number of different pesticides.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much.

Ms. Girard-Bujold, please.

Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold (Jonquière, BQ): I'd like to thank you all for coming and for sharing your practical experience with us concerning this issue that we're studying today. As Ms. Pierrette Venne was telling you, there are different levels of government in Canada which have different responsibilities with respect to pest control: federal, provincial and municipal.

You also know that there are laws which regulate the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, which is responsible for the licensing of pesticides, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which analyzes the residual amount of pesticides found on food. And you also know that the provinces are responsible for the application licences of these two laws. Ms. Venne was right in suggesting that you contact your municipality.

I believe that municipalities are enacting by-laws which would ban the use of pesticides within their municipality, and I support this type of effort.

You have also told us that you would like to see a moratorium. I agree with a moratorium, but we would need to know how to proceed and why we should have such a moratorium.

Ms. Hammond, in your brief you listed 12 "whereas" clauses and you have proposed a number of solutions.

I would like to hear about these immediate solutions that you have proposed and I would like to know what you would do tomorrow with the moratorium. What measures could we include in the regulation that would help the Canadian Food Inspection Agency make these changes and that would ensure that everything you've told us here this morning doesn't go unheeded?

• 1030

As you have said, some programs may provide you with a grant, but the following year, you no longer receive the grant because you are dealing with a different issue, and you need to change programs.

You also say that studies need to be carried out, for which you should be paid. I agree with all that, but I'd like to know what measures governments and agencies could take tomorrow morning to respond to your expectations. Thank you.


Ms. Merryl Hammond: My understanding is that there is a bill before Parliament right now proposing a ban—I think that's the word—on the cosmetic use of pesticides in residential areas. If that bill were ever to pass it would be a wonderful first step. It was on the Order Paper on November 26. Marlene Jennings.... She's from Quebec as well. There's leadership from Quebec. That would be a wonderful first step to basically tell all Canadians there's a problem here; it's come to our attention that there's some problem around this abuse of pesticides that's been going on.

We're not touching agriculture yet, because that's another whole story. People are growing food here and so on. Obviously we're going to start thinking that if we don't want it on our back lawn, do we want it on our table? So it's a very good consciousness-raising tool. But a moratorium like that from the federal level would be an incredible first step.

And as far as alternatives are concerned, we know how to take care of lawns organically, so for people who are panicking about what's going to happen to their lawn, we have a program. You have to first rehabilitate your drug-addicted lawn. It has to first get some strength, but we know how to do that; and then you have to take care of it year by year with natural organic methods. It can be done. It has been done. What did we do before these things were invented? Our parents had lawns, our grandparents had lawns. It can be done.

So it's just to unhook ourselves from this dependence we have right now.


Ms. Jocelyne Girard-Bujold: You say that you are pesticide free. Personally, I find that the by-law adopted by the City of Chelsea is admirable. They have the power to do so. It's you, the mayors and the city councils, who are the main authority, the jurisdiction closest to the people, who respond to the expectations of your constituents. You are in the driver's seat as we say. So, you have enacted by-laws. You have responded to a need. However, you also need the other levels of government to provide you with the means to apply these by-laws.

I think that this is understandable, because we can't make the municipalities entirely responsible for this. You know that right now the municipalities have a lot to do. They need the means to do this. And community groups also need the means to do this.

I would like to know what means, while respecting the federal, provincial and municipal jurisdictions, the federal and provincial governments must give you to allow you to make these changes, to repeat what was said.


The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): A short response, please.

Ms. Edith Smeesters: Okay.


If I may answer, I think these means really should come from the federal government, because when this responsibility is transferred to the municipal level, things work very well in the case of municipalities where there is greater awareness, but it is heavily diluted. Not all municipalities have both the tools and the human resources required to legislate. Given that the federal government is responsible for the licensing of these products, it would seem to me that it would be possible to ban the use of these products for cosmetic purposes.

It's unthinkable that it would not be possible to do so. People are always being referred to different levels of government. For example, why could we not simply say that there is no longer such a thing as household pesticides, and that pesticides are only for agricultural use? Would that not be possible?


Ms. Judy Grant: For the municipalities, I think what we're looking for is validation. It's very hard for municipalities that are, as you said, closest to the people to implement bylaws that aren't backed by other levels of government.

• 1035

What we need is that validation, and I think Dr. Hammond was right on when she said that taking the first step of banning cosmetic use is what we need for that validation. I speak only for Chelsea, what Chelsea has brought in, because it's very hard for us to go out and enforce our bylaw and have someone turn around and say “But the federal government says it's okay”. Well, excuse me, we're not willing to take that chance.

To reiterate what I just said, one of the things that struck people, particularly in my municipality, was my comment that, listen, you do realize you have a well, and what you are putting on your grass, you are drinking. They hadn't thought about that.

In reality, then, if the government's looked, from a totally common-sense point of view, at what you're putting there, the question is, are you willing to let your grandchildren or children get involved with it? I know I'm not.

So I think that's where it has to start, right there, and that's the way it has to be presented.


Ms. Andrea Lockwood: Obviously, it would be an educational program with funding.


The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Mr. Reed, please.

Mr. Julian Reed (Halton, Lib.): Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

First of all, Dr. Hammond, in defence of my alma mater, I am tempted—tempted—to say that the author of that document would be a 30- to 50-year-old product of the Ontario education system. But I won't say that.

Ms. Merryl Hammond: You know, he's a South African, I'm ashamed to admit.

Voices: Oh, oh!

Mr. Julian Reed: At any rate, there was a period of time when good science and good grammar and good use of the language did not parallel each other in the Ontario school system. I have a brother who is a scientist and a product of that.

You asked what we did in the past. I can tell you what we did agriculturally in the past, although I'm not familiar with what happened in the urban setting. We sprayed lead. We sprayed arsenic. Later on, we sprayed mercury. That was the salvation that would get us off the arsenic and lead kick.

On the roadsides we sprayed 2,4,5-T, a more potent cousin of 2,4-D. Every municipal ditch and roadside was sprayed until, of course, some of the drift began to kill tomato plants, which wound it all down.

I say those things to try to bring this into focus. We use a different chemical regime now. We're not into heavy metals and that type of thing any more. Many of those chemicals are biodegradable. In other words, when they're applied, within a few days, sometimes a few hours, they've dissipated. The soil bacteria have changed them, converted them.

To me, biodegradability is a marked advance. I fully appreciate and realize, as one medical officer of health told us here, that all medicines are poisons. It's the dosage that is critical.

I think Mrs. Smeesters made a comment about the necessity of educating people to accept certain things that are considered to be imperfections in such things as apples. I fully agree. When you work in a chemical-free environment, you don't get perfection all of the time.

There's a question that remains with me and that I can't seem to come to terms with. Here's this thing that says pesticides “may ” be harmful to your health. That's a weasel word, because you equally could say they “may not”.

Do you have any comment to make on the business of biodegradability and where we are now compared with where we were then?

• 1040

Ms. Merryl Hammond: Let's go to Edith, the biologist.


Ms. Edith Smeesters: I will answer in French. I don't really agree that biodegradable products disappear completely once they allegedly decompose. What do they decompose into? No studies have been done on this, either to analyze the impact or to learn what they break down into.

In some cases, this has been done. I'm not really into in- depth studies; I'm more interested in raising awareness. But I know that in some cases, it was discovered that the biodegraded products could be even more toxic than the original product. In any case, there is much that we still do not know, and I think that when we have direct contact with people, we really must choose the safest measures.

It is true that we cannot confirm whether or not a given product will cause cancer in the future. There are more and more studies that prove that these substances are dangerous, and when in doubt, it's best not to use them. That's my policy, especially when it is not a question of survival. Nobody relies on their grass for food. In urban areas pesticides are always used for cosmetic purposes, and this is completely unacceptable, all the more so when we realize that there are people who are very sensitive to these chemicals and that there are all kinds of long-term consequences. We often mention cancer, which scares a lot of people. Recently I have seen on the Internet the results of a study whereby they followed, for a five-year period, the biodegraded residue on agricultural products. They found that very small doses of pesticides mixed with nitrates made children hyperactive and aggressive. This was right after the accident that happened in Oklahoma, in the schools. I have noticed that there are more and more hyperactive children in schools. How many children are taking Ritalin these days? This was not the case 50 years ago. We are now realizing that this is linked to pesticides and to nitrates. So you see, fertilizers too can be dangerous.

Finally, we are playing with fire. This is what I tell myself. We are not agricultural experts. If in some cases the issue of survival is at stake, even though I am not sure if that is the case, as we need to recognize that in the agricultural sector, there remains much work to be done in this area, it is unacceptable that in urban areas, we are applying pesticides for cosmetic purposes. It is unacceptable that people be exposed to these products that their neighbours are using.

Thus, currently, smoking is prohibited in public areas. And even if someone did smoke, I could simply leave if I didn't want to be exposed to the cigarette smoke. However, when my neighbour applies pesticides, I can't move. I am right there beside them. That is why I find this unacceptable. I have the right to a healthy environment, and the government is not protecting me currently.


The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Joe Jordan (Leeds—Grenville, Lib.): Thank you, Madam Chair.

I just have a couple of quick questions. I'm wondering if the clerk knows if Marlene Jennings' bill has been drawn. Or could we find out?

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): We can find out.

The Clerk of the Committee: Madam Chair, if it's on the order of priority, it has definitely been drawn. The question is, is it votable or not?

Mr. Joe Jordan: I'm on the committee. This is the first I heard of it.

The Clerk: We'll check that and get back to the committee, and to Dr. Hammond as well, just so she understands the status.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): We have to be out of here by eleven.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Okay. Who specifically is challenging the Hudson decision? Do you know which—

Ms. Merryl Hammond: I believe ChemLawn is the main lead, and Spray Tech. Those two companies did the initial cases. I think they're still together.

Mr. Joe Jordan: I just want to touch briefly on the notion of a federal action on a moratorium, because I'm concerned that it's going to get into a jurisdictional issue, not unlike firearms control and these sorts of things. So clearly in Quebec we have a situation where the province has empowered municipalities—and my understanding is they're the only province that has. In Ontario you're free to regulate on property you own—is that correct?—but not on private property.

Mr. Brian Detzler: That's correct.

Mr. Joe Jordan: And the difference in Quebec is a piece of provincial empowering legislation. It's stood the test of two court challenges already, and I guess we can assume with reasonable confidence that it's going to continue to withstand that test. So is there a move afoot to try to get other provinces to enact similar types of legislation?

Ms. Merryl Hammond: I surveyed all the provincial legislation. You need to glance at a copy of this book. This was made available to the researcher.

Am I correct? Do you have a copy of Pesticide Bylaws: Why We Need Them, How to Get Them? It's not looking familiar? It was mailed about six weeks ago. You asked me to mail a copy for your researcher. I'll leave this copy anyway. Maybe I should leave it with you. You're showing interest.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Okay.

• 1045

Ms. Merryl Hammond: There's a whole chapter here on pesticides and the law. It's a myth to think that the Quebec provincial law empowers municipalities. No, municipalities are simply exercising their right to protect their health and well-being. That is phrased in every province of the country except—it's in here, it's a tiny one—maybe New Brunswick or something. There's a little hitch there that they don't have that phrasing in their equivalent of the Municipalities Act.

At the provincial level, there's nothing fancy in Quebec. At the federal level, we need to look at the phrasing of the Pest Control Products Act. These products are registered for use in Canada. We could simply say, for example, “for use in agriculture or in forestry, but not in residential areas”. The products have never been tested for use in residential areas. They were initially war weapons and then they were used in agriculture.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Okay.

Ms. Merryl Hammond: Somebody saw a marketing gap and brought them into the suburbs.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Okay, that's interesting, because that certainly changes my perception and adds some importance to the private member's bill, if we can track where it is.

I just want to make a comment to Ms. Lockwood. I found this rather humourous, not in a funny sort of way, but you're recommending that we take the cost-effective out of the precautionary principle?

Ms. Andrea Lockwood: When it comes to—

Mr. Joe Jordan: Yes, I'm just saying we went through that debate with Bill C-10 for eight months of our life. That definition is an international definition, like it or not. One of the strategies that I employ—and I'm just offering this as a suggestion—is I don't think we're going to get much movement on that. So what I like to do is push their notion of what a cost is, and if they want to incorporate social and environmental costs—

Ms. Andrea Lockwood: Sure.

Mr. Joe Jordan: —bring on the formula—

Ms. Andrea Lockwood: Yes.

Mr. Joe Jordan: —because I think we can have movement that way.

Ms. Andrea Lockwood: Sure.

Mr. Joe Jordan: That might be a better way of phrasing it; let's expand our view of costs on that.

Ms. Andrea Lockwood: My understanding, though, is that the definition of the precautionary principle that is used in New Brunswick does not include cost-effective, so that—

Mr. Joe Jordan: Yes.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Either one of them.

Ms. Andrea Lockwood: Yes. So I know this cost-effective comes out of the Rio Declaration, but there is another principle.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): There are a number of international usages of precautionary principles that do not include cost-effective, and in fact the federal government has signed on to those conventions and agreements. So while it's international, it's only international in some respects.

Ms. Andrea Lockwood: Okay.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Having gone about 12 rounds on that issue, I think there might be another way of doing it.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): You have to take this as round 13, Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Joe Jordan: You made an interesting point, and I guess this is a comment. What we want to do here is look at the PMRA—what is the PMRA doing? You're suggesting that what we should do is have the PMRA do what most reasonable Canadians think they already do, and that's perfectly legitimate. The database on use of pesticides I think is an interesting recommendation, because it speaks to how we measure community health. And if we don't have those instruments, then we can't—

Ms. Merryl Hammond: We're in the dark.

Mr. Joe Jordan: We can't take a snapshot in time—what are the problems? But then we can't evaluate legislation or action to see if we're improving the situation, because we don't track use to begin with. But in terms of testing, make sure the standards to which we test pesticides are acceptable. Also, if we look at how technology is evolving exponentially, we need to have a re-evaluation regime that incorporates as new information becomes available—also the consumers' right to know, the labelling issues—and then to de-register where appropriate.

One of the pressures from the other side that I would suggest is a legitimate pressure is that we're right beside the United States, and they have a different regime—maybe not better, maybe not worse, but certainly different. Do you have any views on this notion of harmonization? Do you see that as a race to the bottom in terms of standards? Or would there be a legitimate way to harmonize with our largest trading partner so we don't disadvantage farmers or people who use pesticides commercially just because we have a different regime that either takes longer or makes them jump through different hoops? Is there a way to harmonize that doesn't drop the bar in terms of standards?

Ms. Andrea Lockwood: I suppose if in the process of the harmonization you make it clear that the more strict regime is the paramount regime.

I guess I'm a little bit worried that we're mixing apples and oranges a bit here. The only thing I'm trying to speak to you about is a cosmetic application. There are legitimate uses for some pesticides; there are.

• 1050

One of the comments Dr. Hammond made that struck me as well was when she talked about coming from South Africa and seeing the amount of pesticide use for lawns in Canada. I attended the breast cancer conference in Ottawa this summer, and there were a number of programs on these kinds of issues, and that's what they were talking about. They're using pesticides—and they have all these concerns about it—because of malaria and all these other really legitimate health concerns. All we're talking about here are dandelions, basically.

So I get really worried when I start hearing people talking about how we should harmonize and bringing in the free trade agreement and everything else, when what I'm trying to say and what I'm trying to promote is that the federal government, along with the provincial and municipal governments, should be working together so that at the grassroots level, people's health concerns are respected and protected.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Mr. Pratt.

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Thank you, Madam Chair. I have a few questions to Mayor Grant and Ms. Hammond.

Mayor Grant, in your municipality of Chelsea, you have 6,000 people?

Ms. Judy Grant: It's 6,500.

Mr. David Pratt: How many are there in Hudson? Do you have any idea of the size of that municipality? Is it roughly the same size?

Ms. Judy Grant: I think Hudson may be a little bit bigger.

Ms. Merryl Hammond: No, I would go with smaller.

Ms. Judy Grant: Smaller?

Ms. Merryl Hammond: I live right next door to Hudson. I don't have the figures, but it's very small.

Ms. Judy Grant: Hudson is much more centralized than we are.

Mr. David Pratt: Do you have any idea how many municipalities in Quebec have adopted similar bylaws at this point?

Ms. Judy Grant: I think it's between 35 and 40.

Mr. David Pratt: Okay. After you passed your bylaw, how many prosecutions were there?

Ms. Judy Grant: None.

Mr. David Pratt: None?

Ms. Judy Grant: None so far. We've had the inspector on their tails pretty tightly. Immediately, if anybody tries to do something they're not supposed to, the inspector is right there to stop them. People have been generally—

Mr. David Pratt: Do you just have one inspector then, or one bylaw officer?

Ms. Judy Grant: We have one bylaw officer who looks after going out and seeing if it's an infestation. Again I reiterate, it's cosmetic use.

When we first passed the bylaw, there was.... It's not exactly a popular bylaw for politicians. Believe me, it's a hot potato. But sometimes you have to stand up and be counted. This is what our politicians felt they needed to do.

When someone lands in my office with a nice basket of dandelions, I say, “Well, pick them.” It's a matter of education.

Mr. David Pratt: What I'm getting at here is—

Ms. Judy Grant: How many times have we had to prosecute people? People have been very forthcoming in trying to adhere to our bylaw, and we've done so much education.

Mr. David Pratt: But you have no means of determining really, actually, whether or not—

Ms. Judy Grant: No, we don't have someone parading around at night to see if some jackass is doing it at night.

Voices: Oh, oh!

Ms. Andrea Lockwood: Forgive me, Mayor Grant, but I do believe the municipality is receiving calls from residents, who are calling in to say “There's a truck in the community. Go out and check.”

Mr. David Pratt: I'm not really thinking about the trucks. I'm thinking about individuals who may be applying these on their own without the help of any company.

Ms. Judy Grant: No, we don't have someone out there watching. I mean, you'd have to be one on one, I guess. But we do have people who are very vigilant about phoning us and saying “So-and-so's weeds died, and I'm sure he must have used pesticides on them.” People are very, very observant about this.

Mr. David Pratt: Do you send a hit squad out at that point?

Ms. Judy Grant: You know how people love to complain about their neighbours. Well, this gives them the ultimate tool.

Voices: Oh, oh!

Mr. David Pratt: So other than the fact that you don't see the trucks going around, there's no real means of determining whether or not individuals are applying pesticides?

Ms. Judy Grant: Judging by the complaints I've received from only one particular area of our municipality....

For the rest of us who have lived there most of our lives, the thought of throwing pesticides on our lawns never occurred to us. Most of us don't have lawns, for starters; we have weeds, and that's not important. But in the one area of our municipality I've received the most complaints about, some people have been pretty vocal about not liking it, and I've suggested maybe they ask for annexation to Hull.

Voices: Oh, oh!

Ms. Judy Grant: It's that simple. We have bylaws. If you want to live in Chelsea, you must adhere to these bylaws. If you don't like them, then I suggest you move elsewhere. It's that simple. We're not willing to take the chance with our kids.

A voice: Hear, hear!

• 1055

Mr. David Pratt: I don't know how many municipalities there are in Quebec. I presume hundreds.

Ms. Merryl Hammond: It was 1,492 at last count.

Mr. David Pratt: There you go. So we have roughly 35 that have—

Ms. Merryl Hammond: Yes, there's a long way to go.

Mr. David Pratt: Obviously you have a real patchwork then of various environmental regulations. So when it gets down to it, in terms of the bottom line here, do you think your bylaw, in the big scheme of things, is important from an environmental standpoint or from a political standpoint?

Ms. Judy Grant: Environmentally. If it throws us back politically, fine, but that's not the important thing. The environment is.

Mr. David Pratt: But you're a small municipality. You have 6,000 people in a small area.

Ms. Judy Grant: Yes, but we're the best. I just want you to know that.

Mr. David Pratt: I love to see municipal pride, believe me.

Ms. Judy Grant: But David, I have to say also there is a provincial law in Quebec that says you must dump your septic system every two years. We are one of very few municipalities that have that bylaw. For us it's important. We want to be able to swim in the Gatineau River. We want to be able to have a municipality for our children. So for us it's important.

Yes, maybe it is patchwork, but we're making a difference to our people, and the people who live in our municipality want that difference made.

If inadvertently this gets passed on to another neighbouring municipality, that's great. Right now, as warden of the MRC, we have seven municipalities looking at the possibility of passing a septic pumping bylaw. So actually the action we've taken has been passed on a little. We also have two of the other municipalities in our MRC looking at the possibility of a pesticide bylaw.

So things you get good vibes from or support from other levels of government on blossom like a little flower, and all of a sudden other municipalities want on that bandwagon.

Mr. David Pratt: I'm sure we could—

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Your time is up, David. Sorry.

Mayor Grant, you've certainly shown us some refreshing political leadership this morning.

Madame Smeesters and Dr. Fuad, very quickly. The chair has three pages of questions, and I want to get at least two minutes in before we finish. It is 11 o'clock.


Ms. Edith Smeesters: I would simply like to point out that the 35 or 40 municipalities who have enacted by-laws in Quebec, for the most part, have not banned the use of pesticides. There are only three or four who have banned them. They are: Hudson, Chelsea, Westmount and maybe Montreal-West. Most of the towns, such as Saint-Bruno where I live, simply have a by-law which, for all practical purposes, bans spraying above the head of your neighbour. It is along those lines. They stipulate that you cannot spray when the temperature rises above x degrees or when the wind is above such and such a speed. It's terribly complex.

They are basically political by-laws, among other things, in order to appear environmentally correct. They are incredibly complex by-laws, and most of the towns that have these by-laws don't even enforce them. Occasionally you'll have an inspector or two following some truck, but they never manage to do anything. I think what we really need is a total ban, and we especially need to raise awareness.


The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you.

Dr. Fuad.

Ms. Noha Fuad: To answer your question on what the pesticide bylaw did in Chelsea, as Mayor Grant said, other municipalities have looked in to Chelsea and have made inquiries about how they can do the same thing. So I think it's the beginning of a movement. When Hudson started, it was just about the first one, and then many others followed.

There's also the education. People are sensitized to the issue, so they change their habits. As Mayor Grant said, people have made the shift, and I think we're growing a movement.

But as the mayor said, it's not enough. We are really trying to fill a void that we perceive from the federal and provincial governments. The code de gestion des pesticides in Quebec has not been adopted yet. If you use a pesticide, you can do anything you want. You can pour it in your well if you want to. There's nothing preventing you from doing this. You don't have to put warning signs on your lawn.

This is what municipalities like Chelsea are trying to do: at least warn people. Some of the municipalities haven't gone as far as Chelsea has, but at least they're warning people. This is because there's a lack of responsibility being taken by the federal and the provincial governments.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you.

The chair would like to ask four very quick questions. We have to vacate the room.

The first question is to the mayor of Chelsea and anyone else who may want to respond. Have your property values gone down since you brought in the bylaw?

• 1100

Secondly, the recommendation of the industry witnesses who were in last week from the Urban Pest Management Council of Canada, on page 5 of their brief, was:

    Maintain support for federal and provincial regulatory authority. Municipal empowerment of pesticide regulation is not in the best interest of Canadian communities.

The third question or statement I'd like you to respond to is that we were also told by industry representatives last week that they have gone to help municipalities rewrite and correct bad, unworkable bylaws that they passed with regard to moratoriums, and so on, on pesticides. How do you feel on that?

My fourth and final question is to the FCM. In your brief you said the Pest Management Regulatory Agency has no preventive mandate.

So that we can go through the questions quickly, if you feel you don't have a proper chance to respond now, something brief in writing would be very helpful.

Thank you.

Ms. Judy Grant: I have absolutely no problem responding. The Chelsea property values never go down.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): I didn't think they would.

Ms. Judy Grant: We have an extremely high evaluation, and it continues to go up. Unfortunately, with the political climate in Quebec, I think a lot of the property values in Quebec have dropped slightly, but as far as being because of a pesticide bylaw, no. Actually, I think they've probably gone up because of it. That's my response to the first one.

Secondly, the council of Chelsea received a group, actually with two spokesmen, from the pesticide industry who were in favour of not pulling the bylaw, but doing it a little bit differently. We heard them out, and that's where it led.

I have to give you my personal point of view. I have a really hard time believing that someone who's in the pesticide industry is really giving an unbiased point of view. So saying that, I will listen to my residents who express concern about the ability to apply the bylaw. I'm always willing to listen to that, and I'm always willing to listen to ways to make our bylaw better and easier to apply, but certainly to withdraw it—never.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you.

Does anyone else want to respond on those first three questions? Dr. Hammond, and then Mr. Detzler.

Ms. Merryl Hammond: I haven't seen the brief. I would be very happy to read it and then write a response to it. I would be very interested.

I had face-to-face contact. In one or two municipalities, I was supposed to go head to head with folks from the Crop Protection Institute, for example, coming with exactly the same kind of data criticizing the methodology, and so on. They would do their presentation and leave the room before I could speak, before I could ask them to defend their methodology, and so on. I was saying to people out in hallways, “Please come in, and let's debate it as academics in front of the mayor and council.” In this case it was Île-Bizard. I'm up against a PhD; I can have....

They left the room and went to their hotel. They were paid to come to Quebec to sell a weak.... They saw that the patchwork was starting to spread, and they said let's go to the municipalities before these other folks get to them, and write a so-called bylaw that does nothing.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you, Dr. Hammond.

Mr. Detzler.

Mr. Brian Detzler: Thanks, Madam Chair. Maybe I'll start by answering the FCM question first.

In our brief, we do state that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency does not take.... I think what we were trying to portray there is that they need to take more of a proactive approach to getting the message out about alternatives in regard to pesticides and pest management. They've been very wrapped up in regulating pesticides.

They have made an effort to get a take on the issue from the community level nationwide and have done some work with them in doing so. What has been recognized in doing that is they need the resources, the support, the background to get the alternative message out there, just like the messages out there with regard to pesticides. That's what we mean by that brief.

If I could just comment—

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Very quickly.

Mr. Brian Detzler: I want to comment briefly on a comment earlier about whether the provinces are aware of this issue and whether they are doing something about it.

• 1105

We had the opportunity three weeks ago to meet with the Ontario Pesticide Advisory Committee and the Deputy Minister of the Environment to talk about this issue. We talked about it as being very much a local issue with a need for provincial support in getting alternatives out to the public, getting information out, making a concerted effort on education. That's what's required.

It very much was presented to them as a proactive approach, not a regulatory approach, getting the message out so that people can make informed decisions. The province recognizes that they play a role in doing so. The province also says they recognize that there's a role to be played at the federal level as well.

To put it bluntly, pesticides know no borders. This really is a national issue.

The Vice-Chair (Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan): Thank you very much.

I want to thank all of the witnesses.

The committee is adjourned.