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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 physical.

Topics

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP 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.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

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

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP 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.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Canadian Alliance 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?

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP 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.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the hon. member about the comments he made with regard to children suffering from asthma who may or may not have been affected by pesticides, causing them to have a higher incidence of asthma. He made reference to children lining up to use their puffers at local hockey games and so on. I am an asthma sufferer myself and have been since a very early age.

While he is quite right to note that the incidence of asthma has been growing over time in Canada and in a number of other countries, there is no confirmation that the source of this problem is necessarily pesticides. For example, I have heard the argument presented that the widespread use of childhood inoculations may in fact be the thing that causes that recessive tendency toward asthma to be triggered. There may be other pollutants in the atmosphere. I note in particular that one of the curious things that has gone on over time is that as the amount of pollution in the atmosphere has gone down we have seen the incidence of asthma go up.

I am wondering in particular if he is aware of any science which would indicate that in areas of the world or in this country where there is a greater exposure to pesticides it is resulting in a greater local incidence of asthma among children than in other areas of the country. That would seem to be the best way of testing this hypothesis.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I hope that I did not overstate my point. I am loath to ever overstate anything. It is not in my nature. The point I was hoping to make, which perhaps did result in people thinking that I was drawing a direct connection between pesticide exposure and children's asthma, was that in all pieces of legislation about the environment the best interests of the child should be the primary consideration.

If that was extrapolated to be understood that I thought there was a direct connection between pesticide use and asthma, let me say that I do not have any empirical evidence to support that, other than to point out that one of the reasons that we boycott grapes, that people where I come from and people I know do not eat grapes, is the use of pesticides on grapes in California and in Mexico. Among the grape pickers, the migrant farm workers represented in that area by the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez, it was the children who first showed the symptoms of overexposure to pesticides when they were picking those grapes. Bronchial congestive disorders were the first symptoms. After that came the swollen lymph glands and the other terrible symptoms we see in the photographs of children exposed to pesticides. The first indication was the pulmonary bronchial problems, chest related breathing issues. It had to do with rapid heart rate and with contaminants finding their way into the airways first. That is the only actual example I can point out. I have always believed that chronic, unnecessary exposure to chemicals and pesticides at least plays a role in the incidence of asthma we are seeing among our children.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, there are just two things in my colleague's speech that I would like to ask him about.

First, he mentioned his concern about cosmetic pesticides and said he wishes that was in the federal legislation. My question for him is this: Is it not better, as the bill does, to leave it with the municipalities that are right on hand? They are right there. They know the feelings of their constituents better. Is that not better rather than having the big thumb of the federal government coming down on them and telling them what to do with their lawns, their gardens and so on?

Second, he mentioned that we should have far fewer chemicals. I wonder if he does not really mean that we should have more modern chemicals, that we should get rid of some of the old ones that in fact are not environmentally or biologically sound, and that in fact the big problem is in actually registering these chemicals in order to get more modern ones.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the Canadian Alliance Party does not like the big thumb of the federal government or getting involved in other jurisdictions. In this case I suppose it would be the big green thumb, which is in fact the trademark of the pesticide company in my neighbourhood that sprays lawns with chemicals to keep them green.

I would argue that it is a legitimate role of the federal government to try to set national standards. If we just leave it up to the municipalities to deal with it community by community, that is an exhausting and tedious process and we may not have buy-in from all communities. Some communities will choose to participate and some will not. It is a legitimate role for the federal government to try to lead by example and set national standards when it is in the national interest.

As to using far fewer chemicals, I do not think there is anybody here who would disagree with the idea that we should be using fewer chemicals in our agriculture and in our cosmetic use. We should be pouring less toxic substances into the biosphere, into the environment.

My only point, and the only reason I raised it briefly in my speech, is that I thought it should have been at least one of the tenets of the legislation. Or it should be a goal or a stated objective that the purpose of Bill C-53 is to try to minimize the use of pesticides in our ecosystem. I do not stand back or apologize for that. I believe in it strongly. Whether they are old chemicals, current chemicals, modern chemicals or good or bad chemicals, we should be striving to reduce the chemicals we pour into the ecosystem.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-53. Before I get into the meat of the legislation, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that you were not in the chair when it was mentioned that the members for Winnipeg Centre and Winnipeg South used to chase DDT fogging wagons. I am sure this must be a form of entertainment in the city of Winnipeg in the province of Manitoba. Coming from west of the city of Winnipeg, I can assure all members that we never did chase DDT fogging wagons. That may well speak to the level of abilities of the members from the province of Manitoba.

Bill C-53 is legislation that should have been before the House quite a while ago, certainly in the beginning stages of the government's first mandate. This piece of legislation goes back to 1969. It has been some 33 years since it has been in place. It should be updated on a regular basis because this is a part of the industry that changes quite dramatically, not only from year to year but in fact from month to month.

It was suggested by a previous minister of agriculture of the day, Mr. Don Mazankowski, that this legislation should come forward to deal with any number of issues. However, this has not happened. The government was somewhat negligent in its own opportunities to bring forward a very sound piece of legislation. The legislation does have its warts and pimples, however, in saying that, we believe it is far superior to the piece of legislation that has been in place since 1969.

The Progressive Conservative Party has always insisted that the pesticide legislation come forward, for two major reasons. The first is to evaluate the effects of the exposure and toxicity of pesticides, herbicides and chemicals on vulnerable parts of our population, obviously the younger individuals among us as well as older people who have a tendency to be more susceptible to the negative effects of pesticides and herbicides. We believe very strongly that the legislation should have come forward for that purpose.

We would also like to see an educational initiative undertaken with the ultimate goal of reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides. That does not necessarily mean that we should not replace them with alternate pesticides and herbicides that are better not only for the environment but for the health of our citizens. That is obviously where we should be heading. To a degree, Bill C-53 does speak to that particular end and goal.

I must say, however, that this is like all pieces of legislation developed and drafted by the department. It does not necessarily encompass all of the necessary nuances to make it perfect. That is why we have the process we do, whereby after this reading it will go back to committee, which will debate it, have an opportunity to listen to all stakeholders and people affected by this and hopefully come back with some changes or amendments to the legislation that in fact will make it better. Nobody has a lock on ideas, least of all the government. We hope that there is some open-mindedness and we hope that the government is prepared to listen to some of those very positive amendments to the legislation to in fact make it better.

I mention that because there are a number of shortcomings in the legislation. I simply will mention them in passing. I know that our member sitting on the health committee, the member for Richmond--Arthabaska, will be able to take our position forward and hopefully change the legislation.

First, Bill C-53 fails to expedite access to newer and safer pest management products. I will speak to that a little later, but the ability to bring forward newer and safer pesticides is not built into the legislation. That is so very, very important because there are pesticides, herbicides and chemicals out there that are much better for the environment and much better for human health and safety, but we do not have the built in opportunity to bring them forward under our current regulatory system.

The bill also fails to differentiate between the commercial and the cosmetic uses of pesticides. I come from a riding that is dependent on agriculture. Agriculture, in order to not only feed Canadians but also feed a greater number of people outside our domestic market, is dependent upon and requires the ability to use pesticides and herbicides to grow that crop.

Unfortunately we have not differentiated between that absolute necessity of a commercial requirement for pesticides and herbicides and a cosmetic pesticide in this legislation. They are dramatically different, particularly in our agricultural areas. I am sure Canadians appreciate that.

The legislation also fails to translate into viable alternatives to the current regime and does not translate into a workable registration system. Again, I speak to the PMRA, and I will get to that in the not too distant future.

Also, the legislation does not provide adequate transparency. Agricultural stakeholders agree that transparency is necessary but not at the cost of allowing public access to confidential business information.

Agriculture is very important with respect to this, and I would like to talk about the PMRA. For those people who do not know PMRA, that is the Pest Management Regulatory Agency. The PMRA reports to the Department of Health and is responsible for the registration of any chemical pesticide or herbicide for use in Canada.

The problem is that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency does not have the ability to react in a timely fashion. The bill fails to create that mechanism that would speed up the registration of proven low risk pesticides. The bill fails to create an effective mechanism that would speed up the registration of minor use pesticides.

Speeding up the registration of minor use and low risk pesticides would allow the PMRA to dictate more resources to studying more complex new pesticide applications. The bill does not call for an ombudsman or a proper oversight committee.

The two issues I talked about were the registration of new pesticides and minor use pesticides. In Canada we have an agricultural industry, a horticultural industry, a fruit industry, that unfortunately is a very small part of a very small market.

The agriculture committee just had the opportunity to travel across Canada from coast to coast. One of the issues that was consistent from coast to coast was the fact that we did not have the ability to react with respect to minor use registration of pesticides.

Right now in British Columbia there are not sufficient tools in that chemical chest to pull from that chest the proper pesticides to use on the product. However the United States, which is our major trading partner, has the ability to use many more chemicals and pesticides on products.

The irony here is that we can import a product of the Americans, having had them use a chemical which is not registered in Canada. The product may well have residue on it but it is perfectly all right to import that product. We in Canada can grow the same product but we cannot use the same chemical used by the Americans. In most cases we have to depend upon a chemical that is harsher than the chemical in the U.S., a chemical that well should and could be registered in Canada.

We believe very seriously that there must be a built in harmonization in the PMRA system. If the chemical can be used by one trading partner of ours in the United States, then we should be able to use that science to register the product in Canada. It would certainly assist our producers, both with the registration of product in general terms as well as minor use registration.

We talked about the inability to differentiate between the commercial and the cosmetic use of pesticides.

The bill does not speak to the cosmetic use. I assume it was left out by the government on purpose when drafting the legislation. It was suggested earlier by my colleague from Winnipeg Centre that the federal government should have indicated its desire to put forward a regulation or restriction on cosmetic pesticides.

I do not feel the same way. I believe very strongly that the municipalities have the right and should have the right to dictate to their own users, customers, clients and constituencies as to whether there should or should not be the ability to use cosmetic pesticides in that municipality. The reason I say this is not that I am necessarily totally in favour of cosmetic pesticides, although I must admit, other than a few things in this House, dandelions really do infuriate me.

However I believe it is the right of municipalities to make that call, as they have with things like smoking bylaws. Municipalities have made the decision as to whether they should or should not allow smoking in public places. We have seen this in the city of Ottawa where it has decided that there will be no smoking in any public place. However constituencies of other municipalities decided there should be more open smoking bylaws.

I remember in another life I fought a battle with respect to Sunday shopping. That decision was made by the municipalities, not by the federal government or the provincial government. It is the individual municipalities, and their constituents, that should have the right to say what goes on in those areas. Therefore I do not have difficulty with not having the federal government place conditions in this legislation.

There are a couple of other areas that have been touched on in the legislation. The bill provides that any person may apply for a change in maximum residue limits for a product in the registration process. Maximum residue limits must be based on science. By allowing anyone to apply for an MRL for a pesticide confuses the nature of the registration process and allows for any interest group to apply for an MRL. Registration should be based on sound science and not on political procedure.

What this is saying, which I believe is wrong, is that any interest group or any contrary thought to the industry or any user group or stakeholder can simply come forward and ask for a change to the maximum residue limits. This will open up what I believe will be a number of frivolous situations where a lot of legitimate producers of pesticides and herbicides may well be chased out of the country.

That also ties into the special review section of the legislation. It says that, generally speaking, the special review section of the bill is poorly worded. The legislation fails to define the parameters under which a special review could be initiated. The minister is likely to be inundated with public requests for reviews. A request for a special review must be based on known or assumed product risk or scientific evidence. Unfortunately, this again lends itself to abuse when under special reviews anyone can come forward under any circumstance and simply stop a legitimate product from being produced and used in the marketplace.

The third area I have some concerns is the public access to confidential business information. The public will have access to confidential business information once a product has been approved. Members of the public will be able to view only confidential business information with ministerial approval, which we recognize may have its own flaws built into that process.

Access to registry information is currently provided for within the Access to Information Act. The current regime also protects confidential business information. We suggest that it should go back to that area of access to information.

I go back to the agricultural community and its need and desire to deal with legitimate minor use registrants as well as registrants to new pesticides. The PMRA has deficiencies and it is important that we rectify those deficiencies or we will not have the ability to produce the way we produce today. It is important that the legislation deal with that regime and that we look at a serious harmonization process with respect to the United States and Canada particularly. Even beyond that we need a harmonization process that would encompass the globe because at the current time we trade globally. It is important that we have the ability to import and export products that would deal with the same types of pesticides.

Agriculture now accounts for 91% of the total use of pesticide sales in Canada. It is important that the legislation recognize a need for good logical pesticide regulations and we must have the stakeholders of agriculture involved in the legislation.

It used to be that young children would chase fog wagons. It used to be that farmers and producers perhaps did not have the same kind of care and caution when dealing with pesticides. That has changed quite dramatically.

Producers now know that pesticides and herbicides, chemicals of any sort, are very expensive. Therefore it is best to reduce the use of pesticides, not increase the use. It is better to use a better, more environmentally friendly product than one that is not environmentally friendly like we have seen in the past. Those pesticides have been taken off the market.

Producers want the ability to be able to have more choice in those chemicals and would like to be able to have a better opportunity to have some minor use registration. As producers farmers in Canada account for only 3% of the world total pesticide use. The United States accounts for 33% of the world pesticide use and 25% of the pesticide use is accounted for in western Europe. Canada is a very small player, but a player nonetheless, that must have good legislation.

The Progressive Conservative caucus will support the legislation going forward. We will vote to make sure it gets into committee because it should have been there at least 10 years ago and it is about time that it got to the committee level. The government was changing 10 years ago. If it could not put this legislation before us in 10 years then obviously there are more deficiencies than just this legislation. There are deficiencies in the government itself.

We support this going back to committee and hope, beyond hope, that the committee and the department will listen to valuable amendments that will be proposed by the Progressive Conservative Party.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my friend from the Conservative Party who spoke just a moment ago. He made some good points and I want to follow up a little on some of the points he made and some of the points made by members of my own caucus about Bill C-53.

Just to remind colleagues in the House and people who are watching this on television, this is an act to protect human health and safety and the environment by regulating products used for the control of pests. It was put forward by the Minister of Health.

The Canadian Alliance supports the legislation. It has been a long time coming. The last time we had anything done with this legislation was in 1969 when the original bill was introduced and very little has happened to it since that point. The Alliance supports many aspects of it but we do have some concerns. I want to run through a few of them right now.

As was pointed out a minute ago, about 91% of all pesticide use in Canada is by agriculture. As someone who comes from a rural riding where we obviously use pesticides on the farms, we want to have some say on these things.

The first thing I would point out is that a few years ago when the Pest Management Regulatory Agency came into being as a user fee based agency, one of the things people were hoping was that it would be run more like a business, that it would be more efficient, leaner and that it would approve the use of pesticides or turn them down, either way, in a much quicker way. However we found it to be completely the opposite.

When the government allowed the PMRA to go its own way it used those extra user fees to build a bigger bureaucracy and service actually got worse. It took much longer to approve the use of pesticides than previously and in fact the fees started to go up. The real concern in this legislation is that none of those things were addressed. The PMRA, in the eyes of a lot of people, is still not nearly as efficient and effective as it could be. Unfortunately that is something that simply was not addressed in this legislation.

There is one thing that would have helped a lot. In the legislation, any active ingredient in a chemical used in Canada which has triggered some kind of concern in another OECD country can then be reviewed by the minister to see if there are any health effects in Canada. We support that idea, but the corollary should be there as well, which is that if another OECD country, whose standards we respect, approves the use of a drug then why in the world should it have to go through the same process in Canada all over again? That is what happens. The member from the Tories spoke about that a moment ago, as have members of the Alliance.

What that does is effectively drive the cost of these chemicals up for farmers, which means that at a time when farmers are very hard pressed, after years of drought and low commodity prices, they have to pay ever more for chemicals. Why not use the standards of other countries whose science we respect, such as the United States, the U.K. and Europe?

If on the one hand their standards are good enough to trigger a review if we are concerned about safety, then on the other hand their standards should be good enough if those countries are approving a chemical. We think we need to expedite the process by taking into account the science that already has been done in these other countries. That is one of the amendments we would like to see made to the legislation.

We also would like to see the bill amended to include specific approval procedures for minor use chemicals. The member just spoke about that a few minutes ago and it is very important. It is also important that when this legislation is being proposed and done that we take into account the concerns of the agricultural community. Again, 91% of pesticide use is through agricultural producers. As I mentioned a minute ago one of the biggest concerns we have is the length of time it takes to approve new chemicals.

Somebody mentioned that drugs are often approved in other countries because it takes so long to approve them in Canada. This is not only true of chemicals through the PMRA, it is also true of drugs through Health Canada. Two things often happen. Either people have to forgo the use of effective chemicals and pay a very high price for that in the form of lost productivity on the farm or, as was pointed out, use chemicals that are actually much harsher but which have already been approved.

In other words, instead of using the ideal chemical to deal with a very specific pest, one that is newer and therefore probably more environmentally sensitive, people end up using older chemicals. We do not have a problem with the newer chemicals staying in the environment for a long time because they completely break down. That is another problem that we simply want to draw attention to.

We are comfortable as a party with the idea of a public registry. We believe it is only fair that if people have concerns about pesticides they can find out about them through online resources like the Internet.

On more inspections and higher fines up to $1 million for violations, I want to point out that those are interesting components of the bill. When people use chemicals on their lands which have not been approved in Canada, the chemicals can drift over into somebody else's field. We all know stories of that happening and how it affects crops. The government is now prepared to impose a $1 million fine for violations. Is it not interesting how that is distinct from how the government has approached the endangered species legislation? If the government comes in and steals one's livelihood by putting land out of bounds for one's own use, it is not compelled to provide any remuneration for doing that.

However in Bill C-53 the government is going out of its way to make sure inspections are done and huge fines are in place for anybody who uses chemicals that have not received approval through the government. I simply wanted to point to what I believe to be a contradiction between that bill and this bill.

All members of our party are very supportive of legislation that brings more transparency and scrutiny to the use of chemicals in the environment. However we want the government to be sensitive to the needs of the people who actually use these chemicals. The experts are people on the farm. Ninety-one per cent of pesticide use is on the farm. We urge the government to take into account the concerns of people on the farm.

I simply mention again that the PMRA is really a problem that has not been addressed in the bill. It still takes far too long and is much too expensive to get chemicals approved. We want the government to use the science of other countries whose science we respect as a guide to whether or not these products should be approved or in some cases turned down. We do not have any problem with them being turned down but it should be based on science.

Finally, we urge the government to be open to the idea of amendments. The Canadian Alliance is prepared to move amendments to the bill. We hope the government will understand that we are approaching the bill from a point of goodwill. We want to see effective legislation. I think the government will find that the Canadian Alliance will bring forward some very constructive amendments at committee stage.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday when we were leaving southern Alberta there was a horrific windstorm. The residents said that there was more dust and dirt in the air than there was in the thirties.

Farming practices have improved dramatically over the years. One of the things that has enabled farmers to keep soil erosion down to a minimum is the use of some of the products that we are talking about that the pesticide management review agency has to deal with.

We have forced our agricultural producers to produce more and more from an acre of land to be able to meet their financial needs and by doing so we have certainly changed the way some farming is done but almost all of what has changed is for the good. The use of products, such as the ones we have mentioned here, is really necessary if we are to have a competitive agricultural sector in Canada.

Harmonization between ourselves and our closest trading partners is another issue. A lot of our agricultural producers produce the same thing and things are different on both sides of the border. I believe the PMRA is one of the agencies that needs to be very active in making sure that products are harmonized, that legislation and regulation on both sides of the border are the same. I would like my colleague to expand on that somewhat.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Monte Solberg Canadian Alliance Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, my friend from Lethbridge makes a really good point by asking this question.

I will say that although it is springtime in my home town of Brooks, Alberta and we have had average snowfalls in the area, once the wind starts howling, especially in the hilltops, the soil dries up very quickly. A lot of moisture is drawn out of the ground and the dust starts to blow. I understand there was a terrible traffic accident north of Medicine Hat as a result of all of that dust blowing around.

However what has allowed us to actually keep the dust down to a large degree is the fact that we have been able to use no till practices that involve the use of herbicides. We do not have to summerfallow the field just to avoid the erosion problems we have had in the past.

We have all seen the pictures from the thirties of great big sand dunes because of a lack of moisture and the farming practices of the time which made the land very susceptible to drifting and topsoil was lost as a result. That is not nearly the problem now that it used to be because of the different kinds of no till farming practices that involve the use of herbicides. It is very important that we still have the capacity to use those herbicides.

My friend also mentioned harmonizing with the United States. When we consider how expensive it is to go through a series of tests in the United States and have the FDA, for instance, approve all the tests that have to be done on various chemicals, which takes months if not years to do, those chemicals must go through the same process to come into Canada. That is crazy.

We should be using the tests that the Americans have. We should come to some kind of agreement on standardizing the procedures for approving not just the chemicals used in farming but all kinds of drugs as well, which is another issue. Certainly in this instance, for chemicals, why should we go through the whole process all over again which is just adding more years to the time it takes to develop the product, denying farmers the chance to use it in the meantime and adding all kinds of expense? Why should we do that when the information is already at hand?

We urge the government across the way to consider amendments that would take into account the science and the tests that have already been done in other countries to ensure that we can get these products into the hands of the users as quickly as possible.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, during a recent parliamentary visit to Colombia, I had the pleasure of meeting with a number of our dedicated Canadian diplomats working overseas.

Take Derek Kunsken, for example. He is the second secretary at our embassy. In addition to his full time job, Derek spends endless hours volunteering at la Fundacion Renacer. This is a non-profit group operating in Colombia with the specific purpose of getting prostitutes who are minors off the streets and into educational programs.

Funded by Colombia, diplomats from the Canadian and British embassies offer their spare time to la fundacion and other humanitarian efforts.

I applaud the efforts of Derek Kunsken and our foreign service officers who make a special effort to represent the very best of Canadian values abroad.

Haldane Elementary SchoolStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Canadian Alliance Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, the staff, students and parent volunteers of Haldane Elementary School in Chase, British Columbia will be holding their 12th annual Earth Day on April 19. The event has become a tradition.

Haldane Elementary conducts activities in the community which foster fellowship and environmental awareness. The nearly 300 grade 4 to 7 students involve themselves in many activities such as studying animal habitat, building and locating bird and bat houses, planting trees along Chase Creek, conducting community environmental awareness sessions, and painting images of fish on sewer drains to remind people that what they send down the drain ends up in the water system. The entire school dedicates this day to environmental awareness. It takes it one step further by contributing directly to improving the environment of Chase and the surrounding area.

I ask hon. members of the House to join with me in congratulating these young Canadians on their dedicated efforts to make our earth a better place for all of us to live.

National ParksStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are two environmental anniversaries this month. In 1987 the Bruntland report was released heralding a new way of thinking about global environment. In 1996 on April 24 the Wapusk, or polar bear, National Park was established in Manitoba.

Canada and Canadians are custodians of a huge part of the earth's surface on land, with 50% more territory in our oceans. Our national parks system is one of our greatest contributions to the natural heritage of the globe. These parks are our strongest tool in the protection of plant and animal species. They are sanctuaries for a deliberately diverse sample of our natural heritage.

I urge all members to help nurture our national parks system as one of Canada's key contributions to the new approach to global heritage laid out in the Bruntland report. As we do this let us continue to work at extending protection to parts of our ocean floor.

Harry MacLauchlanStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Harry MacLauchlan, a prominent member of Prince Edward Island's business community who passed away on Wednesday, March 27.

From very modest beginnings Harry, through hard work, commitment, teamwork and a very positive attitude, built one of the province's largest business empires. His interests over the years spanned construction, hotels, retail, the local cable television company, real estate and other business developments.

Throughout his life Harry had three distinct traits: No matter what the weather was outside he greeted everyone with “It's a great day”; he generally did business with a handshake; and he always exhibited a contagious sense of optimism.

In addition to his many business interests Harry MacLauchlan was very much involved in the community. He served on many community organizations and fundraising initiatives. Several years ago he was appointed to the Prince Edward Island Business Hall of Fame.

On behalf of all Canadians I pay tribute to this great Canadian and extend our sympathies to his wife Marjorie, his five children and their families.

Juno AwardsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Savoy Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I know I speak for many when I say how proud I was to be a Canadian as I watched last night's Junos. The program was a great showcase of Canadian talent and a tribute to Canada's support for the performing arts.

It is fitting that the Junos are held in April since it is a month when young vocalists and musicians are stepping on school stages to perform in music festivals across Canada. Many of Canada's top entertainers gave their first public performances at these festivals.

I recognize the dedicated festival volunteers, teachers, and parents for the important role they play in Canadians' love for music. I believe it is Canadians' commitment to the performing arts, complemented by government funding, that has made Canadians rulers of the airwaves.

I congratulate Juno Award winners and nominees such as Nickelback, Diana Krall, Default, and Newfoundland's own Ennis Sisters for representing excellence on the nation's music stage.

I also congratulate the hosts of the Junos, the warm and friendly citizens of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador on the success of the event. This is only the third time the Junos have been held outside Toronto, and what better setting for a music award show than the rock, a place that truly rocks on the Canadian music scene.

ForestryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Canadian Alliance Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, while the government is bungling the softwood lumber file the infestation of the mountain pine beetle continues to destroy B.C. forests. The Liberal government must not confuse the two crises and it must not ignore the damage being done by this huge beetle infestation.

The government has a constitutional responsibility for forests under federal jurisdiction. B.C. needs help dealing with the crisis for which a plan has already been developed, but we need a commitment from the other landowner. We need a commitment from the federal government.

The Minister of Natural Resources has already admitted the beetle poses a serious threat to B.C. forests. The minister must not be bullied by his cabinet colleagues into accepting that beetle damage to B.C.'s forestry industry is temporary, that EI programs can handle the jobs that will be lost, or that the Americans will accuse him of subsidizing the industry.

The pine beetle will eat through the government's revenue pipeline from British Columbia.

Hadassah-WIZO Organization of CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to invite the House to recognize the 85 years of great work and achievement of the Hadassah-WIZO Organization of Canada. Hadassah-WIZO was founded in 1917 as a non-political women's volunteer organization dedicated to the support of education, health care and social welfare programs for women and children in Israel. In Canada Hadassah-WIZO works closely with other organizations in the promotion of Canadian ideals of democracy and equality for all members of society.

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Hadassah-WIZO's 85th anniversary official launch celebrating 85 years of vision and achievement here on Parliament Hill. As part of the celebration the hon. Sheila Finestone and the hon. Wilbert Joseph Keon were presented with lifetime achievement awards.

I thank them very much and, especially at this time, I say shalom.

City of SaguenayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 18, my city got bigger. In fact, the municipalities of Jonquière, Shipshaw, Laterrière, Lac-Kénogami, La Baie, Canton Tremblay and Chicoutimi merged to become one single city. Yesterday, the citizens of the new municipality chose a new name: the City of Saguenay.

This name represents a coming together for us. Each of the former municipalities had its strengths, but together, we are even stronger, with an even brighter future.

We chose the name City of Saguenay, which means “where the water flows from”. Today, we are proud to tell all the world that we are big and that our name from this day forward is the City of Saguenay.

Social SectorStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

André Harvey Liberal Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a representative of our government, I was very pleased to announce major investments in social infrastructure on Friday, with funding for organizations from Jonquière such as Le Patro, the Association des parents d'ados, and the Le Séjour-Jonquière shelter.

I would like to highlight the co-operation of the Minister of Labour and Federal Coordinator on Homelessness, as part of this government's initiative to improve social infrastructure.

The people from the riding of Jonquière can rely on the co-operation of our government and myself to further progress in many sectors of human activity, be it the industrial, cultural or social sector, as we have just seen.

Ernie EvesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the new premier of Ontario, the hon. Ernie Eves. Mr. Eves is today being sworn in as Ontario's 23rd premier.

Mr. Eves was first elected to the provincial legislature in 1981. His first victory was a cliffhanger. It was decided by a six vote margin. Nonetheless, his reputation for competence and dedication spread and he served his Parry Sound constituents with distinction and with ever growing pluralities at the polls for the next 20 years.

In 1995 Ernie Eves became finance minister of a province which had been left by 10 years of Liberal and NDP mismanagement with an annual deficit in excess of $10 billion. Combining the bulldog determination and the deft touch that are his trademark, he balanced the province's books while delivering on the Common Sense Revolution pledge of a 30% tax cut.

Ontarians look to their new premier full of confidence in his leadership skills. Under his leadership our province will be an example to all of Canada.

Salt Lake City Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada is proud to draw attention to the exceptional performances of its Canadian Olympic team at the Salt Lake City games.

The overall performance, a fourth ranking among the countries, and the 17 medals, six gold, three silver and eight bronze, have been a source of inspiration for all Canadians. We all celebrate this remarkable exploit.

On behalf of all our fellow citizens, I congratulate our athletes, coaches, volunteers and their families, who have shown that dreams can come true.

They are truly great ambassadors for Canada, and we want them to know how very grateful all Canadians are to them.

Veterans AffairsStatements By Members

April 15th, 2002 / 2:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, thousands of first nations men and women voluntarily enlisted to serve their country in the second world war and the Korean conflict. After the war first nations veterans found that the benefits provided to the average Canadian soldier under the Veterans Charter were not available to them.

In 2000 the national round table on first nations veterans issues tabled a study called “A Search for Equity” which stated once and for all that first nations veterans did in fact suffer discrimination and that financial compensation should be provided to each veteran or estate to recognize these losses in economic and educational opportunities.

First nations veterans have been waiting fifty years for justice and equality. I call upon the Minister of Veterans Affairs to act immediately to give remedy to this historic injustice. Fifty years is long enough. First nations veterans are now elderly and many have passed away. Those remaining deserve to be recognized in their lifetimes. I call upon parliament to give first nations veterans the equal recognition and compensation they so richly deserve.