Opposition to the use of glyphosate on Crown forests in New Brunswick has mobilized thousands of people in this province. For decades, they have been calling for an end to the practice and a ban on the toxic herbicide.
In Parliament today, Green Party MP Jenica Atwin (Fredericton) introduced her first private members’ bill (C-285), which would impose a nationwide ban on the use of glyphosate on forests and fields across the country.
In the video of her intervention, made from her Fredericton North constituency office, Atwin stated: “The widespread use of glyphosate over New Brunswick forests and across Canada is a menace to human health, and plant and wildlife diversity.”
Atwin’s bill builds on a growing global consensus against the use of the poisonous herbicide, following the International Agency for Research on Cancer finding that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen.
“Rather than allowing toxic chemicals to be sprayed in Canada until they are proven harmful, we should be exercising greater precaution: banning products until they can be deemed safe,” said the MP. “Canadians have the right to breathe clean air, drink safe water, and harvest healthy foods from the land.”
In her remarks while tabling the bill, Atwin thanked “the leadership of the tens of thousands of New Brunswickers who have bravely fought for years for this ban to be implemented, in the hope of ensuring safer communities for generations to come.”
Over the years, a petition by Stop Spraying New Brunswick (SSNB) gathered more than 34,000 signatures. New Brunswickers have protested dozens of times to demand an end to the practice of spraying glyphosate on Crown forests, including on May Day in 2019 in Saint John outside Irving buildings and in November 2019 outside the New Brunswick Legislature, at a rally in support of the biologist Rod Cumberland.
In November 2019, David Coon, NB Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South tabled a bill to end glyphosate spraying on Crown lands. The next month, the New Brunswick legislature saw a passionate debate after Coon forced a vote on a glyphosate ban. Only the three Green Party and three People’s Alliance party members voted for it, with all the PC government and Liberal official opposition members voting against.
Atwin’s bill C-285, An Act to amend the Pest Control Products Act (glyphosate), proposes two changes. First, to make it illegal to “manufacture, possess, handle, store, transport, import, distribute or use glyphosate as a pest control product,” and second, to cancel the registration of glyphosate under the Pest Control Products Act.
Atwin’s private members’ bill was read a first time today and ordered to be printed, without debate, amendment or questions. The bill now awaits placement in “Private Members’ Business on the Order Paper.”
At the beginning of this Parliament session, Atwin and other MPs had their names in a lottery to establish a “List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business.” MPs who draw a low number have the chance to have their bills presented and debated. Unfortunately, Atwin’s name was not among the low numbers. Therefore, it is not expected that C-285 will proceed to second reading, unless another MP with a lower number decides that Atwin’s bill should go first.
Susan O’Donnell leads the Rural Action and Voices for the Environment (RAVEN) project at the University of New Brunswick.