That, in the opinion of the House, beginning on the 22nd day of April (Earth Day) next:
(a) all pesticides which are regulated pursuant to the Pest Control Products Act be banned: (i) within a dwelling-house; (ii) on any parcel of land on which a dwelling-house is situated; (iii) on any place that is within one hundred metres of a parcel of land described in paragraph (ii); (iv) in any school, hospital, office or similar building in which members of the public customarily stay for more than a day or work; or (v) on any private or public land that is customarily used by members of the public as visitors, licensees or in any other authorized capacity for recreation or entertainment, including but not limited to parks and sports grounds;
(b) that this ban not apply to a building used for the husbandry of animals, the cultivation of plants or the storage, processing, packaging or distribution of plants or animals or products made primarily from plants or animals, or in the immediate vicinity of such a building;
(c) that this ban not apply to a control product used within an enclosed building: to purify water intended for the use of humans or animals; to control or destroy a health hazard; to control or destroy pests that have caused an infestation; for commercial agricultural purposes; as a wood preservative; or, as an insect repellent for personal use; and
(d) that should further exemptions be sought to this pesticide ban, then the onus to prove safety shall be placed on the manufacturer to show to the satisfaction of both the Minister of Health and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, through scientific and medical evidence, that an exemption is justified.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Victoria.
I rise to speak on behalf of all New Democrats to our motion to ban the use of pesticides used for cosmetic purposes in private homes and public spaces, a motion that I am pleased to have rest in my name.
In so doing, I would like to recognize the important work being done on this issue by our members for Winnipeg Centre, Skeena—Bulkley Valley and Victoria.
Only five countries in the world use more pesticides per capita than Canada. This is an issue that impacts our environment and the very health of Canadians, which is why New Democrats are calling upon parliamentarians from all parties to support the motion and take a positive step forward on the issue together.
In backyards and school yards, parks, gardens, green spaces across Canada, a toxic cocktail of cancer causing chemicals are being used to kill weeds and pests. While these carcinogens are very effective at keeping our yards and public spaces looking green, they are far from being green. We are talking about pesticides that in many cases may have life-altering implications, not just in the near term but decades down the road, such as immune system damage, reproductive damage, skeletal abnormalities, skin damage and cancer.
As the Canadian Cancer Society has said:
Since ornamental use of pesticides has no countervailing health benefit and has the potential to cause harm, we call for a ban on the use of pesticides on lawns and gardens.
Why does the federal government continue to allow these cancer causing pesticides to be used? These chemicals are seeping into our soil, leaching into the water we drink, being absorbed by our homes, harming our bodies and claiming the lives of our children.
Only yesterday we watched as a warehouse fire broke out near the village of Debden, Saskatchewan. The fire burned pesticides and placed hundreds of school children at potential health risk. This dramatic example shows the importance not only of safe pesticide storage but the threat that chemicals such as these can pose.
We have known for quite some time that pesticides have long-term effects that are both serious and harmful. It is our young people, our children, who suffer the terrible consequences. Despite the accumulation of evidence, the range of harmful, and readily accessible, chemical products continues to grow.
Until now, the federal government has not taken any measures to regulate cosmetic pesticides, even though their harmful and serious effects on Canadians are indisputable. It is time for that to change.
The wait and see attitude of past governments puts more and more Canadians at risk. The science is in. Enough time has been wasted. It is incumbent upon us as parliamentarians to do what is right for our communities and the families that we represent, the people who rely on us to be their voice in this place. It is time to take concrete action to ban the use of these unnecessary cosmetic pesticides, which is why New Democrats are moving this motion.
That is why we are calling on the pesticide manufacturers to prove that their products are in fact safe before they can be marketed to the Canadian public. Just as the government oversees and regulates the use of drugs, the use of pesticides must be held to similar government oversight.
By reversing the onus of proof with proper scientific and government oversight, we will move Canada toward a greener, cleaner future that is healthier for our children and our grandchildren.
Our actions have real and serious consequences for the environment, which is our country's greatest asset.
It is obvious that the environment is not one of the Prime Minister's five priorities. While the former Liberal government adopted an approach that favoured press releases over policies, the Conservatives have adopted the approach of eliminating programs and then waiting to see what happens.
They cut programs and have no plans for replacing them with something more effective. We must fill that void with meaningful measures and respect the commitments made to our citizens and to the entire world. Canada must set an example. By banning cosmetic pesticides, we will be taking a step in the right direction.
Today I am calling on the Prime Minister, the government and all members of the House to support this motion for the health of our children and of all Canadians.
With no action forthcoming from the federal government, as so often is the case, citizens and communities are taking steps ahead of government, from Vancouver to Toronto, from Montreal to Halifax. In over a hundred communities large and small across Canada, municipalities have already taken action on the use of these deadly substances.
In spite of fierce opposition, my own home town—Hudson, Quebec—introduced the first such ban in the country.
This ban weathered the attacks and court challenges. It was ahead of its time. We should follow the example of Hudson and all other communities where the citizens have claimed their right to live without carcinogenic pesticides. Their actions are a source of inspiration for us all. Every member must demonstrate good citizenship by adopting this motion today.
Even the Supreme Court became involved in the Hudson case and ruled that the precautionary principle was an important factor that all legislators at all levels should consider in decision making. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, of which I had the honour to be the president at one time, intervened in the case to support Hudson, a case that was initiated by a group of women in Hudson who were concerned about the health of their kids and started a petition about 15 years ago.
In those communities where bans are in effect, gardens are still in bloom, green spaces still flourish, landscapers and weed control specialists provide alternatives to pesticides and more jobs. The result is not just the appearance of healthy gardens but in fact healthy places for plants to grow, for children to play and for Canadian families to enjoy nature without the threat of toxic consequences.
Some in this place will argue today, I am sure, that this is enough, that we should abandon Canadians in their communities to deal with this deadly issue on their own but that is simply not good enough. Not every municipality is able to adopt the measures that some municipalities have done but every Canadian deserves to live free from the use of cosmetic pesticides. The health of Canadians simply has to come first. It is time that the federal government, indeed, it is time that members of this House stood up to protect the people of Canada from exposure to pesticides that we know are harmful to the health of the most vulnerable among us.
As Margaret Sanborn, of McMaster University, said, “Pesticides are designed to kill something and that should be a cause of concern”.
It turns out that those pesticides are killing our kids.
The motion that we brought forward is not revolutionary in practice but its practice may well revolutionize the impact that the toxins and the carcinogens found in pesticides are having on the health of Canadians, most particularly, children and pregnant women.
This is a good first step that the federal government can take to protect all Canadians from chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, disease and sickness. It is a measure we can take today to help clean our environment for tomorrow.