House of Commons Hansard #168 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pesticides.

Topics

Pest Control Products Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2001 the supreme court brought down a decision on the case of the city of Hudson, Quebec. Since 1991 this city has had a bylaw banning or limiting the use of cosmetic pesticides.

Does my colleague not find that the government has an obligation to consider the repercussions this may have on the municipal level?

Pest Control Products Act
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12:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, regarding the whole area of aesthetics and pesticides, I think our critics of agriculture and health have indicated that they believe it is best left in the hands of municipalities. They are closest to the people, it is their aesthetics and they should be the ones to deal with the issue. I will defer to them as to their beliefs on that. Obviously in committee they will bring in expert witnesses and will examine that issue.

Points of Order
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday in the House I made a remark that on reflection was inappropriate and that I regret making.

If anyone was offended by the remark, I offer my sincere apologies.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-53, an act to protect human health and safety and the environment by regulating products used for the control of pests, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Pest Control Products Act
Government Orders

April 15th, 2002 / 12:25 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine
Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to be able to take part in this debate on Bill C-53.

As a number of members of the House are aware, I have introduced a bill on two occasions. The first bill was C-388 and it later bore the number C-267. This bill banned the use of pesticides for non-essential purposes.

The purpose of my private member's bill, which I am no longer able to sponsor, having been a parliamentary secretary since September 2001, is to place a moratorium on the cosmetic use of chemical pesticides in the home and garden and on recreational facilities until scientific evidence that shows that such use is safe has been presented to parliament and concurred in by a parliamentary committee.

We will recall that the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled a report in May 2000 on the existing legislation on pesticide registration. One of the committee's recommendations was that the government should make major and serious changes to this legislation. The outcome of this we have before us in Bill C-53.

Bill C-53 is the new Pest Control Products Act that Canadians have been waiting for for a long time. Some would say too long. The purpose of the bill is to amend legislation that is already about thirty years old. The time had definitely come.

The House, through the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, has examined the issue of the use of pesticides to eliminate pests. As I have already mentioned, the committee's report, entitled “Pesticides: Making the Right Choice for the Protection of Health and the Environment”, was tabled in May 2000. It is the result of a lengthy study and testimony from numerous people and experts who explained that the current legislation was outdated.

The committee made a number of recommendations, the first one being that the Minister of Health introduce new pesticide legislation as a top priority.

I am very pleased that our government, through the Minister of Health, heeded the main recommendation of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, and introduced a bill.

However, like many of my colleagues, I have studied the bill. Analysis of Bill C-53 reveals that the main purpose of the bill is to prevent people and the environment from being subjected to unacceptable risks resulting from the use of pest control products. This fundamental question or risk assessment is based on the health assessment of children, pregnant women, seniors and, in some cases, the specific risk associated with an exposure ten times greater than the allowable levels.

This bill does contain good elements, such as setting up a public registry. This will guarantee the public access to health information. This is a step forward. This bill also allows for the protection of whistleblowers and information sharing between departments with respect to pesticides.

Another major step is being taken in that there is a provision to the effect that the burden of proof for the safety and value of a product is clearly on the registrant or applicant. This is also a step in the right direction and it is a very positive aspect of this bill.

However, Bill C-53 has a number of serious flaws, in my opinion. For example, the precautionary principle and its application are very restricted under this act. The preamble does not even mention it. If the government, and I am part of it, is serious about achieving the primary objective of Bill C-53, which is to prevent unacceptable risks for people and the environment from the use of pest control products, it is essential that the precautionary principle be included in all aspects of the decision making process.

The Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development recommended, and I quote:

Appropriate preventive measures are to be taken where there is reason to believe that a pesticide is likely to cause harm, even when there is no conclusive evidence to prove a causal relation between the pesticide and its effects.

But there is not even a definition of an unacceptable or acceptable risk in the bill. I hope that when this bill is referred to the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development, the committee and all members will take a very good look at the few flaws I have mentioned.

The implementation of this bill will depend on the subjective interpretation of this concept which, as I mentioned, is not defined. The precautionary principle is only applied in the proposed legislation in re-evaluation or special reviews. At an operational level, the precautionary principle must be used in all decisions respecting pest control products.

Another flaw is that there is no science based inherent toxicity criteria, that is, there is no threshold for endocrine destruction, neurotoxicity or carcinogenic content of a pesticide specified for testing of the products. There is no requirement to re-register or evaluate pesticides for use on GMOs, that is genetically modified organisms. This is a problem.

The committee recommended that the regulatory agency be expressly mandated under the new legislation, or under another bill, to inform and educate the public about the risks associated with the use of pesticides and the availability of less harmful alternatives. Attitudes about pesticide use must be changed through aggressive public education programs.

The regulatory agency should not be given the exclusive responsibility to carry this out given that many federal departments make vital contributions to public awareness raising. It should be spread throughout the system. Public education should be a key component of the legislation.

We also need a commitment in the bill to the pollution prevention principle. There is no substitution principle included in the bill, that is, a requirement to deregister older pesticides once newer and safer ones are registered.

I think that this is an oversight in the bill, which could be corrected when the committee examines it.

Transparency should be a part of any new legislation and any new regulatory process introduced by government. This is something Canadians in the third millennium want. They want a government which is accountable, which behaves in a transparent manner. I think that the issue of transparency should be addressed in this bill. As we can see, there is no requirement for a sales database.

There is no direct mechanism for submission of independent scientific findings, as requested by the committee. We asked for that as well. There is no requirement to establish a database on reported adverse effects.

There is no specific mention of the Pest Management Advisory Council and there is no requirement for harmonization between the protection of human health and the environment in order not to weaken Canadian standards.

I think that Bill C-53 is a clear improvement over what we have right now. One of the members across the way mentioned that the Supreme Court of Canada had handed down a ruling with respect to the town of Hudson, Quebec. I believe that this ruling also involved other municipalities in Quebec which had regulated the use of pesticides within their boundaries and, in certain cases, had prohibited the use of pesticides and chemical products for cosmetic purposes. Companies accused the municipality of exceeding its powers and took it to court.

In a decision handed down in June 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled very clearly that the federal government had jurisdiction over these matters, as do provincial and territorial governments. Municipalities have jurisdiction as well, provided that jurisdiction is not covered by the federal and provincial governments.

The Supreme Court of Canada went so far as to say that in today's reality there is more information available on how disruptive chemicals can be and how harmful to the health of our environment and our fellow citizens. As well, local governments are often in a better position to determine the needs of the population and the most effective means of ensuring their protection and of preserving or improving the environment in which their citizens live.

I was very pleased with this judgment. I have already met with several mayors and councillors of municipalities in order to encourage them to examine this matter and to pass bylaws on the use of pesticides in their municipalities. I must also congratulate the Government of Quebec, my government since I am a Quebecer, on the statements made by the minister, André Boisclair, on the Government of Quebec's intention to act on this matter. I am most pleased to hear this and am prepared to co-operate with my provincial government, because I feel this is a matter of vital importance.

If we want to have a healthy country a hundred years from now, we have to start right now taking care of the environment and of people's health. One very real way of doing so is to enact legislation that regulates the way pesticides and pest control products are used, particularly those manufactured from chemicals, based on the precautionary principle.

I will not take any more of the House's time. The Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development has done a good job. The outcome of that was its May 2000 report. The Minister of Health has done a good job as well. This is an excellent start, but once the standing committee has had the bill referred to it, I expect it to pay very serious attention to the comments, recommendations and suggestions originating with both sides of this House, in order to improve the bill and ensure that its objective of health and environmental protection is attained by the mechanisms contained in the bill, or to be added to it.

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12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine for congratulating the Parti Quebecois and its minister, André Boisclair, particularly on an issue of such importance as pesticides and the environment.

It must be understood that the municipal level has full jurisdiction—as the hon. member pointed out—when the federal and provincial governments do not get involved, or when they do not have regulations in effect. Municipalities have been very successful in protecting their environment, particularly from pesticides used for so-called esthetic purposes.

Still, I would like to hear the hon. member's view on Bill C-53, which is silent on an improved registration process for less toxic pesticides. It must be understood that once the government gets involved with regulations, it prevents provinces and municipalities from regulating. So, there is some kind of a flaw here.

I would like to hear the hon. member's comments on the registration process which, in my opinion, should clearly be a quick process or phase for less toxic pesticides. I would also like to hear her comments on the incentives that such a bill could include for farmers who, among others, use pesticides for industrial purposes.

As far as I am concerned, the government made a mistake by not including a process to encourage, through credits, the industry and those who use industrial pesticides to find alternatives more quickly.

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12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his comments, his suggestions and his question. As for the registration process, I agree with the fact that the bill has shortcomings in this regard. Let me give a simple example.

There are already completely non toxic products on the market, that are not chemical pesticides. In Quebec, scientists and businesses have developed organic products. Occasionally, they want to market a product that already exists in Europe, or in the United States. In such cases, the current registration system can take between 24 and 36 months. This makes no sense.

The committee must look closely at this bill's registration system, I believe. There should be both a fast-track process and a normal process. The bill should contain provisions for cases where a product has already been registered by other countries and where all of the work has already been done, that would allow the agency to ensure that its registration process is comparable to ours, as we do with degrees.

When people get their law degree from the school of law at the Sorbonne, or a graduate degree from the Sorbonne, there is already a certification system in place here in Canada, through our professional bodies. It is already being done. All people have to do is send their credentials, diplomas, and the rest, and they receive a certificate saying that it is the equivalent of a master's degree from a Canadian university, for example.

I do not see why, then, the same could not be done when it comes to registering products that already exist on other markets, such as the international market. That is the first thing.

The second part of the question is as follows. When a new product is registered and science has proven that it is much more effective and much less toxic than an existing product, why is there no process to deregister the old product? This is an interesting concept, and I would like the committee to examine the idea.

Indeed, in other fields, such as in pharmaceutical sector, there are products that still exist, but that are used in much more limited ways than before. This is because there are new products and drugs that are much more effective and have less side effects. This is an excellent second point raised by my colleague. I would invite to committee to look into this issue as well.

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the comments made by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce--Lachine, who spoke for the Liberals. I agree with her that this bill could improve a very serious situation.

The member perhaps knows that this bill is not perfect, that problems remain, and that it could be improved. I have a number of questions. However, what I particularly wish to know is whether the member can address the concerns of all opposition members.

If the Standing Committee on Health is proposing amendments to this bill and addressing these concerns constructively, can the member do something to make sure that the government does not block these amendments and that it will give very serious consideration to the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Health?

Pest Control Products Act
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12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I wish to commend my colleague on the quality of her French. I much appreciate her speaking to me in French.

My colleague wished to know whether I, as a Liberal member and parliamentary secretary, will make sure that the government does not scrap any amendments made by the Standing Committee on Health, once this bill is referred to it. First of all, as I lawyer, I never prejudge anything.

I myself have mentioned a few shortcomings—not all—which I noticed in my reading of the bill. Other members, whether on the government or opposition side, mentioned the same shortcomings, and others as well.

I hoped that, once this bill was referred to it, the Standing Committee on Health would take into consideration the debate in the House and all the comments, suggestions and recommendations made by both sides during this debate. Once the bill comes back before the House and the committee has tabled its report, I will certainly examine very carefully any amendments made.

We all know that the youth criminal justice legislation, for instance, was the product of several bills. I was one of the Liberal members who worked very hard for years getting the government to move one inch at a time until we had a bill which I, as a lawyer, as—

Pest Control Products Act
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12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but her time is up. I also wish to remind her that she must address her remarks to the Chair. I could have pointed this out to her at the time.

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12:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-53. I note that Bill C-53 would replace the Pest Control Products Act of 1969. We do not have to do a lot of mental mathematics to realize that it has been over 33 years since this act has been revisited and revamped.

We all agree that the world has changed dramatically since 1969. It is overdue and welcome in many circles for us to be dealing with such a timely and topical bill.

I should note, and would be remiss not to, that the Liberal government first promised new legislation during the 1993 election campaign. It was the former health minister who promised the legislation by the year 2001. Some hon. members on the other side are seeing this as the fulfillment of an election campaign promise perhaps, albeit from the 1993 election campaign.

The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development produced a study to assist the Minister of Health in advising what type of legislation would be necessary to deal with the management and use of pesticides. It included an examination of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, PMRA.

We note that in putting forward Bill C-53 the primary objective is the protection of human health and the environment, and finding some balance where both of those issues can be addressed.

We will admit that Bill C-53 is much stronger than the current legislation. We are pleased to be able to take note of that. We feel there has been some balance struck among the interests of health, environmental concerns and the legitimate concerns of industry, many of which have been raised in the House during this debate.

Bill C-53 would seek to introduce the use of modern risk assessment practices. In other words the further consideration or the enhanced consideration of vulnerable populations such as children and the aggregate sum or the total exposed cumulative effect on children. Speaker after speaker have raised in the House, and we all agree, that children are especially vulnerable to the proliferation of chemical and pesticide use in our cities, even in industrial settings where there is overspray, and of being contaminated by farm practices.

It is something about which we have come to realize more and more only recently. I will give one example from my own experience. The hon. member for Winnipeg South will possibly remember this. There was a time in Winnipeg when we had DDT foggers going up and down the residential side streets and through the city parks late at night. What did we do as kids? The hon. member remembers very well. We used to ride our bikes behind the fogging truck because it was pretty neat to lose sight completely in such a dense fog of DDT haze mixed with diesel oil which in fact compounded the effect. This was our entertainment for the afternoon, following a truck full of poison.

Children do things like that. Children by their very nature play on the grass. Kids put things in their mouths. They pick things up from the ground and put them in their mouths. There has to be a growing recognition that the interests of children must be our primary consideration in any piece of legislation like this.

The other thing that has only been recognized recently is that we do not have to ingest these chemicals to be put at risk by them. Skin absorbs them; it acts like a sponge. This is something I know from my background in workplace safety and health in the labour movement. Exposure to chemicals and toxins need not be oral. One can ingest them by absorbing them through the skin. They work their way through the body and find a natural state of repose in the organs, in the liver, kidneys and pancreas. There they sit for many years. The cumulative effect, the total aggregate effect of chemicals on our bodies is something we are only just starting to recognize and realize.

Another thing happens. Not only is that chemical ingested through the skin and not only has it found a natural state of repose in the organs, but other chemicals come to join it there. Chemical A sits in the kidneys or the liver. Then chemical B is introduced to the kidneys or liver and a chemical reaction of those two things causes chemical C . We might begin with two benign chemicals but combine them and we could have a very toxic substance. This is a risk we are starting to recognize in people in the workplace and in children.

Another thing I would point out in the labour movement is that in the workplace there is what is called the walking wounded. A lot of poisoned people are wandering around out there with a ticking time bomb in their internal organs which may or may not cause complications later on.

In dealing with the bill as it pertains to children, there is something I noticed as a hockey dad. Both of my kids played hockey right up through the high school level. I noticed with my older boy that quite a number of kids carried ventilators for the treatment of asthma. A couple of kids on his team had to use puffers throughout the game.

By the time my younger boy went through the system six years later, kids eight and nine years old would sit on the bench waiting for their turn to play hockey and their puffers were lined up on the boards. I think seven out of fifteen kids on the roster had to use inhalers, all labelled and ready for use. When they came off the ice after their shift they had to use their ventilators. At the risk of sounding alarmist, I cannot help but think there is something fundamentally wrong with that picture when seven out of fifteen otherwise healthy young athletes are so affected by asthma that they have to use ventilators to finish a one hour hockey game.

I point those things out to stress that nothing short of making the best interests of children the absolute primary consideration would be satisfactory to me. I think we have matured in our treatment of this issue. I do not believe there is a member in the House who would not acknowledge and agree that a key provision is the protection of vulnerable populations, such as children, from the total aggregate and cumulative effects of unnecessary exposure to toxic pesticides.

The other thing the bill acknowledges is how necessary material safety data sheets are. The workplace hazardous materials information system legislation is now law in all workplaces across the country. Key and paramount in the WHMIS legislation is the right to know and the right to refuse. Workers have the right to know what chemicals they are working with and they have the right to refuse to handle them if they believe they pose a risk to their health and well-being.

There is that recognition in Bill C-53. It extends and extrapolates that basic human right, that we do not have to touch things we know to be harmful to us. However it does not address the issue I tried to outline, that we can have a perfectly benign chemical in one hand and another perfectly benign chemical in the other but when we combine the two in the Petri dish which is the body, there is that third chemical which can and does sometimes hurt us.

I have tried to be balanced in recognizing some of the advantages of Bill C-53. One of the concerns my party has regarding the bill is that the legislation is extremely vague. This has been a developing pattern in the pieces of legislation I have witnessed in the short time I have been a member of parliament. More and more there is very little binding teeth in the legislation and so much of the details are left to regulation. In other words, the details are in regulations that will not necessarily be dealt with in the House of Commons but will follow after to give meaning to the language in the legislation that we pass here.

Some of the issues that will have to be dealt with in regulation are the details and the timeline for the re-evaluation process. Another issue is the type of tests to be used in risk assessment. Those are critical issues which I think should be debated in the House of Commons. They will not be. They will be regulatory, not legislative.

Another concern is that the precautionary principle is not really enshrined as one of the basic principles of the bill, not even in the preamble, not even in the soft language that is often the preamble to legislation. We believe that in any environmental bill in this day and age or certainly in a bill related to health care, the precautionary principle must be one that is adopted as a basic premise, as one of the basic tenets. The pillars of anything we do must adhere to and stem from that precautionary principle. It is noticeably absent in the bill.

There is a failure in Bill C-53 to ban the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. We thought that the debate around pesticide use had matured to the point where we could accommodate this basic issue. More and more around the country we are hearing about municipalities taking that step. Maybe there are industrial uses and reasons from a health care point of view that pesticides are necessary. Surely they are not necessary to make lawns greener.

There is nothing more perverse than driving down a suburban street and seeing a beautiful expansive green lawn in front of a house with a sign that reads “Danger, do not play on this grass, toxic substances used”. There might as well be a skull and cross bones planted on that beautiful lawn if so much poison is applied that it is dangerous for a child or a dog to be exposed to it.

It would have been a bold and courageous step on the part of government if it had introduced legislation that would deal with banning the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. We are disappointed that Bill C-53 fails to do this. We certainly hope that our member on the health committee, the member for Winnipeg North Centre, will be able to introduce amendments that will be entertained favourably which might give us some satisfaction on those pressing issues.

We are also critical of Bill C-53 at the lack of a fast track registration process for lower risk products. There could be a graduated scale where lower risk products could be dealt with in a fast track registration process. That was raised early on in the debates and consultations surrounding the legislation, but we do not see that reflected in the bill.

There is really nothing in Bill C-53 that would reduce the number of pesticides being used. We would have thought that the bill could have been introduced with the preface that it is the intention of the government to gradually reduce the number of pesticides in circulation. That would have been a very good place to start. That does not seem to have been one of the objectives in Bill C-53. We would have thought that most Canadians would have welcomed and celebrated that.

Nothing in Bill C-53 would really give satisfaction to those who are interested in reducing the number of pesticides in circulation. It talks about further regulating this. It talks about ways to protect Canadians from harmful exposure, et cetera. However it really does not talk about minimizing or reducing the use of pesticides in general and it does not prevent Canadians from being exposed to the most harmful pesticides.

I will balance this off so that my speech is not entirely negative, but I have to share with the House that some of our concerns stem from the failure in Bill C-53 to require the labelling of all toxic formulants, contaminants and microcontaminants. We flag that as a criticism as well.

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency was examined by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. I noted earlier in my speech that this was done in May 2000, yet there is failure to set out the mandate of the pest management regulatory agency in Bill C-53. We are critical this basic recognition fails to show up in the bill. If we are going to rely on the regulatory agency for guidance, advice and direction in the future, then surely the mandate of the PMRA should have found its way into the bill.

Bill C-53 fails to commit money for research into the long term effects of pesticides. If our primary consideration is the best interests of children, we need to know more about that toxic soup I talked about. We need to know more about the long term effects of the liver becoming a repository for who knows how many different chemicals that get stirred around and mixed up and turned into yet another chemical, a brand new chemical compound for all we know. The long term effects of pesticides is not really known.

I shudder to think what it was like for me and the member for Winnipeg South cruising around on our bicycles behind that fogging truck full of DDT and 2,4-D. He and I seem to have survived to date, but I would not want to see what our organs look like through a fluoroscope. Our livers could look like whiffle balls for all we know.

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1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Winnipeg South, MB

Some of us have yet to come out of the fog.

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1:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

The hon. member says that some of us have yet to come out of the fog. Many have found their way into government, those fog sniffers of yore.

The failure to commit money for research into the long term effects of pesticides is a major shortcoming of Bill C-53, especially as it pertains to children and public education about the dangers of pesticides and support for alternatives. Chemical companies constantly advertise on television to use this or that product. If there are problems with pests, zap them with this or zap them with that. On one side in the media we are faced with a sales campaign promoting the further use of pesticides in our society. We in my party feel the government should have introduced a countervailing measure to mitigate that influence by telling the other side of the story. In other words, use a product if we have to but be aware of the dangers.

The NDP critic recommends that we oppose Bill C-53. We do not support Bill C-53 in its current configuration. Even though it is an improvement over the former Pest Control Products Act of 1969, the bill is still flawed and still fails to protect Canadians. It is not bold or courageous. It is not innovative or visionary. The bill is pedantic and rather sluggish in its tone and content.

Bill C-53 may bring up the standards somewhat close to U.S. standards, but it still falls way behind the European standards. It is not striving to achieve the best practices internationally, a favourite cliché. Let us scan the globe for the best practices and emulate them. It makes good sense. We have chosen to ignore the best practices in the world and instead have chosen to align ourselves with second, third or fourth rate practices such as we are finding in the American regulatory system.

The legislation is still an improvement over what we have, I grudgingly admit. However, it is not nearly as bold as it could have been if we really wanted to set some standards and show the world our concern about this issue.

Harmonization with U.S. regulations may have a dangerous effect in the long term because it will be harder for us to ultimately adopt the higher standards in the European model. Given the scientific evidence that exists, this legislation should have been much stronger in its efforts to protect human health and the environment.

I would like to recognize the contribution made by the member for Winnipeg North Centre on the Standing Committee on Health with regard to the bill. She points out that at least that committee is dealing with a piece of health legislation which, in the five years I have been a member of parliament, is a very scarce rarity. The House of Commons at least is dealing with an issue of preventive medicine. We support and encourage that.

We in the NDP are critical of the bill. We will be moving amendments to it. We hope we can convince the government side to entertain many of the issues we have raised.

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1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I found the hon. member's comments very intriguing and quite interesting.

One issue that he did not address, and I wonder if there is not a repository of information that might be useful in the arguments he presented, is the notion that credible research and data have been accumulated in other jurisdictions which may prove useful to the Government of Canada in determining which pesticides it should use. I wonder if he sees any benefit in that.

The second point is this issue that we do share a long border with the United States. Should we not be working more closely with the U.S. in selecting the pesticides that may be used in this country given the fact that water does flow across the border in many jurisdictions, such that we do share the results of the spraying of any chemicals on crops or even lawns?

Could the member comment on those two matters?

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1:15 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for giving me the opportunity to touch on both of those very valid points.

To answer the first point, I believe that we are not acting as an international community on this issue as well as we could be. If in fact there is research in other jurisdictions that would give us some direction and some guidance, we would be foolish not to seek out that research instead of wasting our own resources re-inventing the wheel and duplicating research. We could learn from the valid research that other scientists have done in other countries. I cannot believe that sharing those resources is not automatic and not more widespread. In the interests of our collective well-being, those resources should be, and I believe are, freely shared. I believe I did touch base on this with the fast tracking of the regulatory process. We believe this could be an element of the fast tracking of the approval process in that it is not always necessary for Canada to do original research if that research has been done in other countries recently by clean science that we trust. That would probably help the fast tracking in the regulatory process.

In terms of harmonization with the United States, it is absolutely necessary. I think I understand the issue the hon. member is getting at. We do share watersheds and we do share practices north and south of the border, so that at least we should be compatible. I suppose that is the term I am looking for. The point I was making was not to be critical of the fact that we are seeking to harmonize somewhat with the United States. The shortfall I was pointing out is that it may slow us down in trying to harmonize to an even higher standard, which does exist in other European countries. Should we tie ourselves absolutely to the regulatory and licensing processes in the United States, we may be less willing to look further afield to other countries that are setting even higher standards and it may prove to be more of a hindrance than a help as we try to elevate our own standards.

The hon. member is quite right that, in my part of the world at least, the watershed begins in the United States and flows through Canada before ultimately winding up in Hudson's Bay. We have great interest in and great concern about what products are being used in the United States. The only way we will have some comfort and satisfaction is by co-operating with that country to ensure that we are not violating one another's atmosphere and environment.