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House of Commons Hansard #205 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lead.

Topics

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know if my colleague thinks that the use of pesticides, especially cosmetic use, should be more strictly regulated.

The other day, because of the abundant rain we had this week, I noticed a very beautiful golf course that had just been sprayed with all sorts of pesticides meant to make it nice and attractive. The following day, torrential rain washed all these pesticides into streams and rivers.

Does my colleague not think there should be some form of regulation, and perhaps some education to increase people's awareness of the fact products are used, which are often carcinogenic and dangerous? I am asking my colleague what he thinks about that.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. Yes, I do think more education and more information should be available, but I have to note that I think we see some improvements in this regard. I think the word is slowly getting out about pesticides.

I think the member raises an important point, because we are talking about agriculture primarily but in our urban areas we admire the lawns that look so green and beautiful and are devoid of dandelions and other weeds. However, I think people are beginning to rethink that, to recognize that this has a cost and that it is perhaps dangerous to young children who play in parks and gardens that have had pesticide use or when children play with their pets that have been running around in those places.

It is an important point. I do believe more should be done, but I think some things are beginning to be done.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Before we resume debate, pursuant to Standing Order 38, it is my duty to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows:the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, Fisheries.

Message from the SenateGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2002 / 3:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed certain bills.

Message from the SenateThe Royal Assent

3:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Government House

Ottawa

June 13, 2002

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 13th day of June, 2002, at 4.30 p.m. for the purpose of giving royal assent to certain bills of law.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

Secretary to the Governor General

Message from the SenateThe Royal Assent

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I understand that some hon. colleagues in the House were inquiring earlier as a result of a point of order, which was somehow described as a question of privilege, as to what the next item on the agenda would be after the completion of the bill that is before the House.

Should I not obtain the answers on Bill C-58 that I had committed to getting to the House, which it does not look like I will get now, I will not call the bill. I will not call Bill C-58 if I cannot get the answers by the time we get to the completion of this. Instead I will call Bill C-55 as the next item.

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 third time and passed.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to take part in the debate on Bill C-53, which is aimed at protecting human health and safety and the environment by regulating products used for the control of pests.

By way of an introduction, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Rosemont—Petite-Patrie for his excellent job in raising the awareness not only of his own Bloc Quebecois caucus, but also of the public at large. I congratulate him not only for his work on this bill dealing with the proper use of pesticides, not only for his major concern for organic farming for instance, but also for his interest in anything having to do with the environment. He is becoming an expert like no one else in this parliament.

It was high time the federal government took action in its jurisdiction. Indeed, pest control is an area of shared jurisdiction, the federal government having certain powers, specifically with respect to registration and the safe use of pesticides.

This act, which had become obsolete, outdated and criticized by just about everybody, should have been reviewed at least 25 years ago. We are talking about everything that has to do with pesticide use. Naturally, it was not criticized by those who sell pesticides; I believe the old legislation served them well these past few years. Updating this act was long overdue, especially since, for the past 25 years, a lot of scientific research has been carried out on the dangers of uncontrolled use of certain pesticides. This often resulted in the outright ban of products found to be dangerous, particularly in the United States, where more stringent controls of pesticide use were imposed in the early 1980s.

I recall that, these past few years, whenever pesticides were withdrawn in Canada, it was because the United States had carried out the necessary research, with the proper resources, in order to review the past registration of a given pesticide. They would come to the conclusion that given the state of research at the time, the pesticide in question was now deemed a hazard to human health. Canada benefited from the resources the United States has been investing for a long time in the protection of human health.

Talking about research, we talk primarily about what was done over the last few years, which has demonstrated beyond any doubt the link, sometimes a direct one, between the use of pesticides and certain conditions that develop over time, such as allergies in young children. Children are more sensitive to pesticides than adults. They also play merrily outside in the summer, precisely on the grass made so perfectly green by the use of pesticides, and easily develop allergies. Researchers link certain cases of cancer to the use of pesticides.

Thus this becomes a serious issue. It calls for a tightening of controls, notably through this legislation which, incidentally, will be supported by the Bloc Quebecois. However, we would have liked the bill to go much further, particularly with regard to alternatives to chemicals currently used. However we will come back to that at the end of this demonstration.

As I was saying, research has been developed, which established a link between illnesses developing over time, such as allergies and even cancer, and the use of pesticides. However, we have not yet reached the point where doctors receive training adequate enough to make a link between certain symptoms of these illnesses or short term symptoms associated with pesticide use, and the health of children and even that of adults. Often we think that an indigestion is simply an indigestion. The fact is, however, if we took a closer look at what the child visiting the doctor for some indigestion had been doing, we would realize that he had likely been playing on grass that had just been sprayed with pesticides to prevent it from yellowing or from being taken over by dandelions or other pests.

We should not only pay special attention to the use of pesticides, but also consider the fact that this industry is dominated by big players, essentially transnational corporations which control the entire agricultural production in the world. They control just about everything.

Companies have challenged bylaws passed recently by municipalities to ban the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes in their jurisdictions.

Take for example companies like ChemLawn or Spray Tech, which specialize in massive chemical spraying of lawns. They tried to challenge the jurisdiction of municipalities and their authority to regulate the use of pesticides in their jurisdictions. They even went to the supreme court, but they lost. When I learned that they had lost at all three judicial levels, I was very pleased, because there is big money behind pesticide use.

We are talking about two companies in particular, namely ChemLawn and Spray Tech, but we should not forget those that supply their inputs, the likes of Monsanto and CIL.

If there are businesses that take advantage of people and of this planet, they are the ones, along with other similar transnational companies. Why do they take advantage of the planet and of people who live on it to the point of devastating complete regions? Let me explain briefly.

They have complete control, from the seeds to the finished product. They produce genetically modified seeds for crops of wheat, soya beans, rapeseed and canola. The genetic modifications make the use of the pesticides produced by these companies essential. Therefore, the whole world is dependent on their genetically modified products and the pesticides that go along with them.

If you use Monsanto seeds but not the Monsanto pesticides, your crop will not yield as much or could even be completely devastated by pests.

Internationally, farmers and peasants in Africa and Europe are at the mercy of these companies controlling the agrifood industry upstream and downstream.

Those large companies manufacturing pesticides and seeds to match are so destructive that they were the cause of the devastation observed in Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. Efforts to boost several regional economies through agriculture, which represents on average 80% of the GDP of these countries, except for South Africa, were a failure. This initiative was a failure because the only seeds available on the world market were genetically modified seeds. Following harvest, it was impossible to keep any portion of the crop to seed the next crop, because the seeds must be used together with the pesticides produced by CIL or Monsanto. Besides, they are not reproducible.

Agriculture is a very simple thing. For centuries, it has been the result of nature's miracles and human intelligence. For planting, one sows seeds or plants and transplants seedlings. Once they have grown, you set some aside. This is what people have been doing from time immemorial. Part of the crop is set aside to be used for seeds the following crop year.

It is no longer possible to do that because these big companies have control over seeds, pesticides and all the rest.

Do not think that having allowed the pesticides control and registration legislation to become outdated did not help these companies. It served them very well because once pesticides were registered, 25 years ago, there was no reason to be concerned. As a matter of fact, after registering products once, the government did not re-evaluate them. This allowed producers to sleep tight, do research to improve certain aspects of their products, while knowing that with such an outdated legislation, they had nothing to fear in Canada.

Coming back to pesticides used in Canada, this is a large market. Sales total $1.4 billion a year. In Quebec, since the late 1970s, there has been a massive increase in the use of pesticides because of the enthusiasm for green lawns free of pests and undesirable plants, like dandelions—I wonder why people do not like them; they are so nice.

During the 1990s alone, over a five-year period, I believe it was from 1992 to 1996, there was a 60% increase in the use of pesticides in ornamental horticulture.

In Montreal alone, 300 kilos of pesticides are used in parks, in places where children play. Children develop allergies and they can also develop cancer. Three hundred kilos of this junk is used in parks where our children play.

This reform was long overdue, but it does not go far enough. We congratulate the government for at least dusting off the old act. However, when one wants to do a good cleaning job, one has to do more than dust; one must also do some polishing. If the legislation can be improved, it is a good opportunity to do so. The government could have gone much further in this modernization of the pesticide registration legislation.

Had the government heeded the recommendations of my colleague from Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, who is becoming an expert on this issue and on the environment in general, someone with convictions who is working hard to bring the government to keep its word on the Kyoto agreements, for example, perhaps we would have had an act worthy of its title, true legislation dealing with pest control, but pest control with no risk to human health and not interfering with the protection of animals and plants.

But no. As usual, the government does things grudginly. It does them in stages and says “We will try this first; we will remove the dust and then, in two or three years, we will pick it up”. We sometimes wonder whether Liberal legislators know how to clean up.

When one picks up the dust, one can say that the housework is done. However, as long as one leaves it there, the housework is not done. And the government is leaving the dust in this bill, when it could have gone much further. Even if it had used the U.S. legislation as a model, it would have been a clear improvement, compared to the bill before us.

Why did the government not listen to my colleague from Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, when he suggested a data bank on alternatives to current pesticides?

There are natural pesticides in use in the United States and also in a part of Europe. They are not harmful to human health and, if they are used wisely, they do not represent a threat to the environment. Why did the government not give the example with this bill?

A government that claims to take the environment and health seriously and that keeps talking about its so-called deep convictions has introduced an incomplete bill. Why did it not create this bank? Why, also, did it not increase research on alternatives?

In this regard, even though there are natural pesticides, there is a lack of research on their large scale use, to ensure that producers in Quebec and Canada can get results and be as competitive as the United States or Europe.

Why did the government not increase significantly the resources allocated to research and to enforcement of the modernized version of the act? My colleague from Rosemont—Petite-Patrie was pointing out to me that the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled a report in 1999 in which she identified serious problems that could have guided the government in drafting this bill.

For example, the report refers to the lack of re-evaluation programs. This bill provides for a certain degree of re-evaluation of registered pesticides, but we think that it is not enough. The bill does not go far enough in that area.

The report said that Canada was lagging way behind other countries throughout the world, not only with regard to pesticide registration, but also with regard to spending for the implementation of standards and regulations to protect human health as well as animals and plants. Agriculture means plants, animals and humans. We must find the right balance between protection, yield and the health of users.

The commissioner said that Canada lagged far behind in terms of the resources for the enforcement of provisions on the use of pesticides and their re-evaluation. No resources worth mentioning were added in the bill. A major part is missing, and the bill does not fill the gaps mentioned by the environmental commissioner.

Clear processes are also lacking. Did the bill settle the issue of certification, of re-evaluation and so on? Does the government know where it is going with this bill? I do think so.

I see my colleague from Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, who is nodding. There is a lack of clear processes for things like certification and the time it can take. In the United States, it is clear. A product is certified within a year. There is no fuss.

Indirectly, we are dealing not only with human health, but also with the profitability of the agricultural sector. For example, there are consequences if we cannot certify biological control agents. It would be best to be able to certify them for their use in this country. If our competitors in the U.S., for example, use biological control agents that are as cost effective as chemical pesticides used in this country, or more cost effective, we will be at a disadvantage. Since we are a net exporter of farm products, it is very much to our advantage to keep our competitive edge.

We are really disappointed with the registration process. We would have liked a much faster process, access to an alternative products databank and access to a much more efficient model, like the one that has been adopted in the United States for example, which does not threaten, as is the case here, human health and competitiveness in the agricultural sector.

We would have supported this bill with a lot more enthusiasm. However, we will support it anyway. As my colleague from Rosemont—Petite-Patrie mentioned more than once in his speeches on the protection of the environment and human health, it is a good start. We hope that the government will speed things up to further improve this area of shared jurisdiction, that is the registration of pesticides and the search for alternatives.

I wonder why the government acts like this for all its bills. In the more or less eight years that we have been here, we have made all sorts of proposals with respect to the criminal code. The government was rather hesitant and came back three years later with other amendments to the criminal code. Why did it not accept the Bloc Quebecois' recommendations which, in the case of pesticides, put forward a full plan for a real pesticide control bill promoting health protection. There again, we will keep on working to convince the government, because it has a hard time understanding.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that my colleague is taking part in this debate on Bill C-53 for a very simple reason. You will quickly understand why.

We have dealt with various aspects of this bill throughout our discussions, but the agricultural aspect as opposed to pesticides has hardly come up. My colleague, who worked for many years for the Union des producteurs agricoles, is in a better position than anyone to really understand the important link between pesticides and agriculture.

He also took the opportunity to remind the House that we have moved and tried to put through a number of amendments in committee. We did not move a hundred amendments or so, but we moved amendments that we thought were relevant. This is the difference between wanting to be constructive and wanting to hold up the process.

We only moved about 10 amendments that we felt were relevant, but the government refused to adopt these proposals by the Bloc Quebecois. The Liberal bulldozer went into action, and our proposals were rejected.

What did we propose? We proposed a deadline for the re-evaluation of pesticides already available on the market. There is no sense in taking 10 years to complete this re-evaluation. Not only does this create uncertainty for the pesticide industry, but it also create uncertainty for environmental protection and public health, in the sense that people cannot know in the short term what the impact is and whether the products are safe.

We asked that the bill provide for deadlines for the re-evaluation of products already available on the market. We also asked that the precautionary principle be included right in the preamble of the bill.

I am aware that a number of parties in the House do not agree with our proposals. I know, however, that the Conservative Party and the NDP do agree with these proposals.

We believe that Canada must be consistent not only internationally but also nationally, in its own legislation. Canada cannot sign international conventions dealing with the environment, like the Rio convention, where the precautionary principle is recognized, and then refuse to include this principle in its own bill even though the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development said that the government had to include this principle in the preamble if it wanted to honour its international commitments concerning the environment. But the government refuses to do so.

Finally, we have proposed an organic farming program, and I would like to hear what my colleague has to say on that issue. We know that, in Europe, there are programs under which a number of financial incentives can be given to farmers who decide to eliminate the use of pesticides on farmland.

I would like to hear what my colleague, who is an expert on farming and who knows about the impact of pesticide use, thinks about that. I would like to have his opinion on this issue.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, in all modesty I must admit that I am no expert in agriculture, even though I have worked for experts in that area, namely the agricultural producers in Quebec.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

An hon. member

What a modest man.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

I am not saying this out of modesty. It is true that we do not have enough resources for the promotion and development of organic agriculture, and this has always been the case.

I remember that, in the mid 1980s, the MAPAQ, which is the department of agriculture, fisheries and nutrition, began implementing various incentives. However, it was not enough then, and it is not enough now.

The situation is clearly evolving. A number of citizens now oppose the massive industrialization of agriculture. This sector is more industrialized than ever before and becoming even more so every day.

I believe we will have no choice but to provide, rapidly, significant financial and technical resources to promote a type of agriculture that is more respectful of the environment and of human health.

The United States have just passed the Farm Bill , which I consider to be the toughest and the most inhuman policy in the agricultural sector. Under this bill, billions of dollars will be used to finance exports of surplus grain and milk products, among other things, on world markets. As a result, this will flood markets, bring prices down and eliminate farmers, especially in developing countries. A part of those resources should have been used to develop alternative means of production and to produce less massively but in a better way than what is being done at the present time.

However, industrialized countries have not reached that points yet. This is our role. When I hear my colleague from Rosemont--Petite-Patrie talk about the protection of the environment and about sustainable development, I thing this also applies to the evolution of modern agriculture.

We should take a first step and make a first improvement by doing what we used to do 30 years ago, when we started using pesticides. We used to target pests and use only the desirable quantity of pesticide, according to directions. We used small quantities.

Today, however, the use of pesticides has become so prevalent that they are being used in a preventive way. When there is prevention, there also is exaggeration. This is the real problem at the present time. The problem is not that we use pesticides but that we use them in the wrong way and massively.

We have the same problem with manure management. This may seem trivial, but natural compost has fertilizing virtues far superior to the chemical fertilizers that are being sold.

For the past 30 years, however, farmers have been brainwashed into buying chemical fertilizers because that way the percentage of phosphorus and other elements is known, they know it is always balanced, whereas with compost you never know, it varies from one week to the next.

So for the past 30 years, we have been lazy, going with technology and saying “We are going to use chemical fertilizers; we are going to use pesticides in a preventative manner and, as for the rest, manure, it is worth nothing, we will have to dispose of it”. The natural reflex should have been to use this natural fertilizer and to have the same reflex as 30 years ago: if there are pests, if there is a risk of infestation, only use the required quantity. Of course, more resources should have been invested in organic alternatives.

However, I believe we are at a crossroad. We know political will develops under public pressure. Today, the pressure is too great to have farming practices that are more environmentally sound and less harmful to human health, and to break away from the control of Monsanto and CIL.

This is very important. It is a major concern. These big transnational companies have control over the world agricultural economy. We should never forget it.

If we are serious about our vision for the future of the farming sector, and if we want to go organic, we will have to keep on breaking up international monopolies and take away from them the privilege of having control over life and the manipulation of life and all those rights that are very harmful to the future of mankind.

This too is a major issue, which will not be solved here alone but which must be solved here and by international bodies. It is urgent.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I just want to talk briefly about a point that was mentioned at the end of the speech of my colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. He knows agriculture very well and even its global aspect.

Last fall, in October, during World Food Day, I remember that we had people who work with developing countries. My colleague talked about this. It was mentioned how it was important to really help developing countries to take charge of their own destiny.

One of the aspects that was brought up by the people who worked in these countries where, unfortunately, the population is often suffering from famine, is that they begged parliamentarians not to allow companies to control genetically modified seeds. They told us that the only way they have to provide food to these populations is to keep the seeds that are produced to be able to put them back in the ground year after year and not be at the mercy of the companies that my colleague mentioned.

I would like him to comment further on this issue to demonstrate the importance of the human aspect.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I know a little bit about that, but once again, I repeat that I am not an expert.

We are rather hypocritical in the industrialized countries. I am not talking about my colleagues, but rather in general terms, about the industrialized world. We are acting somewhat hypocritically. I think I should tone down my rhetoric here.

For example, when we say that we are increasing international aid from the commodities that we produce, that we are sending tons of grain or of milk products to the developing countries to help them, it is not really true, we are not helping them at all. Under cover of this international assistance program, we are disposing of surpluses that we cannot control. That is what we are doing.

People should not believe that the new U.S. farm bill, which will pump billions of dollars into the agricultural sector, will help the world. Overproduction is not going to end in the United States and world markets will keep being flooded. The local economies will be destroyed, particularly in Africa and in South America, and this will not help them at all.

What does not help them, and my colleague has mentioned it already, is that the seeds, the pesticides and everything around them, is controlled by the same companies and that the seeds cannot be reproduced. How can these countries pull through when they are in the middle of this massive industrialization movement in the agricultural sector and cannot get their local economy moving again? It is complete nonsense. It is therefore a question of principle that will have to be settled without delay.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity to speak today to Bill C-53, the Pest Control Products Act.

I would like to start my speech by congratulating my colleague from Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, who made a point of speaking up for Quebecers at the standing committee on the environment, which reviewed the bill.

I will start by asking a question the committee must have asked itself: Do pesticides have harmful effects on health? We live in an era where we are faced with diseases, we all know it, and the problems our health care systems across Quebec and even Canada must deal with regarding an aging population that is living better and longer, but that suffers from diseases too.

We are faced with diseases such as cancer which wre not common half a century ago. It has now become a plague that we are trying to fight with every conceivable research program and other means. We need to ask ourselves questions. When a disease appears we must always try to find out what causes this disease.

I do not want to blame pesticides alone, but we must understand that the use of products harmful to health has resulted in contamination. Cancer causing agents have been found near facilities. It happened recently in the Atlantic provinces.

We have changed our attitude regarding the massive use of pesticides for field crops. Medical studies have been carried out to see whether groundwater was contaminated, and whether there was an increase in the number of cancer cases in some areas. Some comparisons were made, and it was found pesticides were used on an industrial scale on field crops. All this raises questions. Whose fault is it? Who should be blamed? Has a culprit been found?

This is not the purpose of my speech today. However, it is certain that pesticides have harmful effects on health. The question is settled. Witnesses were heard by the committee, positions were taken and today we have Bill C-53, which, again, is unfinished.

We heard from witnesses, and I am going to share with those listening the recommendations of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. I would like us to read them together. Those who listened to my learned colleagues all afternoon, and at other times since the beginning of debate on this bill, have surely understood that the government, in order to protect a segment of the industry, is introducing a bill which does not go as far as the authors of studies and analyses would like.

I am going to cite the recommendations of the standing committee, which went as follows.

We would have liked the new Pest Control Products Act to establish human health and the environment as priorities by creating databases on the sale of pesticides, their adverse effects, and alternatives to pesticides.

We wanted pesticides used for cosmetic purposes, those we use on our own lawns, eliminated over the next five years.

Earlier, the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot told the House that the pesticide industry is a very lucrative one, with sales of $1.4 billion. As we speak, one out of every two lawns in Quebec is being treated with pesticides to eliminate pests, as our colleague would say.

I went through this with my lawn. I have not used pesticides for four years, and I have never had so many dandelions. Members can laugh, but I eliminated them just four years ago with pesticides. Now, I have stopped using pesticides, but I have never had so many dandelions. But that is fine.

My neighbours find it a bit discouraging. But I am not doing anything about them. I used to use pesticides and I had no dandelions at all. Now, I have the lawn with the most.

So there is something in pesticides. When I do not use them, all the dandelions in the neighbourhood end up on my lawn.

Obviously, I have decided not to use pesticides any more. You will have understood that this is fine by me. But my neighbours are a bit discouraged. I am trying to convince them not to use pesticides. When they see my lawn, they obviously have a few little problems.

There is a hard reality behind this little anecdote. Obviously, when we use chemical products, we change the course of nature. That was the point of my story.

A message was delivered by the Usher of the Black Rod as follows:

Mr. Speaker, Her Excellency the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this honourable House in the chamber of the honourable the Senate.

Accordingly, the Speaker with the House went up to the Senate chamber.

And being returned:

Pest Control Products ActThe Royal Assent

4:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber, the Deputy Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:

Bill C-43, an act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act—Chapter 17.

Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada—Chapter 18.

Bill C-50, an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization—Chapter 19.

Bill S-41, an act to re-enact legislative instruments enacted in only one official language—Chapter 20.

Bill C-27, an act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste—Chapter 22.

Bill C-47, an act respecting the taxation of spirits, wine and tobacco and the treatment of ships' stores—Chapter 22.

Bill C-59, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2003—Chapter 21.

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 third time and passed.

Pest Control Products ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I continue my speech by going over, one more time, the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, which, on the issue of Bill C-53 on pesticides, recommended among other things that there be a transparent and open process in order to build the public's trust in pest management regulations.

It also recommended that the new legislation make it a condition of registration that applicants carry out ongoing monitoring after registration.

It recommended that existing pesticides be re-evaluated.

It also recommended that adequate independent funding be provided under the legislation. Indeed, because of the shortfalls in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 budgets, the agency responsible for monitoring and registering the products has delayed its re-evaluation program of existing pesticides, because it ran out of money. Of course, this was a very legitimate request by the committee.

It also recommended that the government immediately establish a research program on pesticides that is specific to child health and that it ensure adequate funding.

Why child health? Our children are those who are the most likely to develop health problems that may be caused by pesticides because we continue to tell them to play outside. They roll in the grass.

We want them to play, to be vigilant and to be active. Of course, they take advantage of nice lawns and nice landscapes. They have a lot of fun, but this puts them in direct contact with pesticides that are sprayed not only on lawns, but also on field crops.

Since these pesticides are sprayed, winds can carry them to the lawns of people who do not use pesticides. Pesticides sprayed on essentially agricultural areas may end up on lawns; it is possible.

Of course, it was a very legitimate request on the part of the committee to ask that there be a research program on pesticides that is specific to child health.

The committee also recommended that incentives be provided for organic agriculture, that chemical pesticides be banned and replaced with natural or organic fertilizers, which is totally normal.

When we talk about incentives, we mean money. It takes money to develop organic alternatives to chemical pesticides and put them on the market. Therefore, investment in research is necessary. Incentives are also required to encourage farmers to use natural or organic pesticides.

The report also recommended that the government develop a policy on organic farming. Such a policy should include tax incentives, an interim support program for the transition period, and technical support for farmers.

Obviously, there is nothing in the bill before us in terms of tax incentives or other forms of incentives in favour of organic farming. There is no money. This is typical of what we have been seeing from this government. It proposes nice policies and sets nice priorities but it does not invest the money required to achieve our objectives and our ideals.

Again, it can never be said often enough. I support my colleagues who took part in the work of the committee and who had the opportunity to propose amendments. The amendments put forward by the Bloc Quebecois were rejected because we were asking for real incentives for the development of organic farming, with organic and natural pesticides. We wanted tax credits and other incentives for farmers.

Nearly 60% of my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, located along the Ottawa River and the Lac des Deux-Montagnes, is made up of farmland. It must be noted that in the Mirabel area, a beautiful area that all my colleagues in the House should visit this summer, we have witnessed one of the largest migration since the deportation of the Acadians, with the Mirabel expropriations.

At the time they had announced 90,000 acres. Of course retrocession occurred in 1985. From that year on the voracious appetite and the requirements of the federal government have been reduced considerably. No later than yesterday, we learned--through documents that were released from the archives under a federal government's act requiring that these documents be released after a 30 years period--that Cabinet already knew in January 1971 that 22,000 acres more than needed had been expropriated.

Moreover, some 1,700 people were about to or had been displaced. In 1971, the government was already aware of that. Our current Prime Minister, who was then Minister of Indian Affairs, was part of the Cabinet involved in this decision. It was decided to go ahead with the purchase of these 22,000 acres anyhow because the process had been set in motion and the government did not want to be sued by the public. The fact remains that at the time it already knew that 22, 000 acres more than needed had been expropriated and that 1,700 people were going to have to move, to be deported in fact.

Some of them were able to get their land back starting in 1985. The fact remains that for 14 or 15 years they were victims of a terrible expropriation and their land was ruined. As a result field crops in the Mirabel area and large farms were broken up. Later land and properties were rented out. New farmers came in. Today we have a wide range of farmers.

This gives you an idea of the riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel where farms are now smaller but just as profitable and increasingly more into organic farming. They use less and less GMOs. All they want is to practice organic farming. We support labelling to be able to say that indeed we sell natural and organic products.

I am proud today to speak on behalf of the farmers in my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. They have fine and economically viable farms. These farms are modern, with a diversified production. More and more, farmers are turning to organic farming and natural foods with a much better yield. More and more consumers, especially in Quebec, are interested in organic food. There is good reason for the Quebec government's wanting to ratify the Kyoto protocol. This is what is wanted by the people of Quebec, who are concerned with environmental balance. This is a societal choice by Quebecers.

Once again, it is for good reason that the municipality of Hudson went to the appeal court and fought for its right to ban the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. In Quebec, this is a societal choice. Quebecers care about the environment. That is their choice as a society.

Today, I am proud to stand up for Quebecers and tell the Liberal government that, once more, this bill is too little and too late. The government is not doing enough. As usual, there is no money. But the scandals that have been unfolding in the last few weeks have shown that there is always money for friends of the government and contributions to the Liberal Party. There is always plenty of money for that.

In this bill, we should have told our farmers that if they want to use natural and organic pesticides, we will help them with tax credits, incentives and research money. But there is none of that in the bill.

Once again the people of Quebec made a collective choice, which is not reflected in this bill. Quebec is one step ahead of the rest of Canada, and this bill is holding us back. Our farmers would be ready to receive funds and develop natural fertilizer and organic farming. However, the federal government has chosen not to go that far. Once again, a large part of Canada, Quebec, which represents 25% of the country's population, is being penalized by this bill. This legislation does not go far enough and does not meet the expectations of the people of Quebec.

This is always hard to accept. The fact remains that Quebecers pay 25% of all the income tax collected by Canada. We pay our share in this Canadian system, which is far more profitable for the federal government. Under the Constitution, the federal government is not accountable to anyone for its spending. The federal level does not take care of health, education and transportation.

We have seen what happens; we are trying to get infrastructure programs to help provincial governments reach their goals and give our constituents from all over Quebec a good road system. they made promises, but there are no funds here at the federal level.

Few people blame the federal government because it always acts like a rescuer in all these situations. The terrible part about how Canada is organized is that the federal government has no responsibility whatsoever regarding the true problems of the people.

The federal government is not responsible for health, education, transportation and agriculture. So the federal government passes legislation—on pesticides, in this case—but does not invest money to help producers convert to organic agriculture, to the use of natural or biological pesticides, which, like everything else, always cost more. In the early stages, it means more research.

But no. The federal government is involved with big business, major pesticide sellers, major chemical companies that go and get their resources throughout the world and that sometimes make people work for paltry salaries, to get a better return on their operations and to sell their products here to our producers.

They are often products that are processed or made in countries where these companies use children, cheap labour and women. They take advantage of the situation and, basically, exploit people in other countries to sell to us chemical products that are also harmful to our health.

The amendments put forward by the Bloc Quebecois were very realistic. Finally, we want the government to be able to provide funding through this legislation. I repeat, I am pleased to repeat the standing committee's recommendations, which are very realistic: that the government develop a policy on organic farming. Such a policy should include tax incentives, a transitional income support plan and technical support for farmers.

It is simple. This simply means that farmers using chemical products and pesticides will have to incur costs in order to convert to natural and biological pesticides. They may have to incur losses. A certain balance might not have been reached. Let us compensate those farmers and we will see that things will go well.

We will start a green revolution, as Quebecers want. It is in the image of Quebec. It would be very beneficial for the rest of Canada if they converted to the image Quebec is now projecting, that is being more focused on the environment and the protection of our children.

Finally, everything we do and every decision we make, I hope we are doing for our children and our children's children. We are doing it for our posterity not for ourselves. I hope we will have a little vision.

This is a bill introduced by the federal Liberals who lack vision and will leave nothing to our children and our children's children.

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5 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

All of the aspects that he mentioned to those who are listening to us today, including members of the House of Commons, are very important. In the riding of Jonquière, farmers have also taken a greener approach to ensure that the next generations have a future, as my colleague pointed out.

However, as he said and I would like him to repeat that, the government always ensures that it has a good image internationally, but instead of being true to that image, when the time comes to take constructive measures to go forward, unfortunately it chooses to go backward. It provides no money to give some real meaning to this small step that it is taking. It does not even provide, in this bill, for the re-evaluation of registered pesticides that are already available. It does not open the door to the use of organic pesticides.

I want to ask a question of my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, who is the Bloc Quebecois transport critic. Having been president of the Union des municipalities du Québec for several years and having been in contact with Quebec municipalities, he knows how important banning the use of pesticides is to municipalities because of their effects on health and the environment.

I would like to know if, in his discussions with his colleagues from municipalities, he felt that they were ready to adopt these new methods and if they were anxiously waiting for the federal government to take action in that regard.

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5 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Jonquière who is always well informed and who keeps abreast of the situation in Quebec.

She has understood that Quebec's municipalities have once again been the forerunners in Canada. It is obvious that when a municipality takes action and passes an environmental bylaw, it is because there is absolutely no federal regulation in effect.

You will of course have understood that further to the decision rendered, the municipality of Hudson had to defend itself and to challenge this decision in court. People who were expecting to get the spraying contracts for this territory challenged the decision.

Since then, with the victory of the municipality of Hudson, more than 100 municipalities in Quebec have introduced bylaws to prohibit the spraying of pesticides. The numbers are growing weekly.

This is what I was saying earlier and my colleague is entirely right to say so. The Saguenay is turning more and more to agriculture. New farms are being created. They are small operations, but still economically viable. However, the number of megafarms is dwindling.

In Quebec, we are trying to have farms that are not too big in order to take care of them with love and to improve them, mainly in a organic and natural way. This is what the people of Quebec want.

The fact that my colleague from Jonquière knows the agricultural situation in her riding so well and of course that she recognizes that tQuebecers want us to reduce the use of pesticides speaks very well for her.

Oonce again, we say that the federal government, with this bill, wants to look good. There is no money to help the farmers and all those who are using pesticides get rid of the harmful chemical pesticides and adopt more natural and organic practices.

In this regard, the federal government has once again missed the boat for future generations.

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5:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is the House ready for the question?

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5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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5:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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5:05 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.