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April 22, 2009: a date which will live in infamy

May 12, 2009  By William Gathercole

To paraphrase the words of former U.S. President Franklin Delano
Roosevelt—April 22, 2009—another date which will live in the period of
environmental infamy—the full force of the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticides
Ban Act came into effect.

The professional lawn care industry has been selectively and
deliberately stripped of its conventional pest control tools by the
Government of Ontario on the pretext that children needed to be
protected by products evaluated by a small group of health care workers
who have no expertise whatsoever in matters relating to pest control
products. The massive and detailed studies of “sound science” performed
by Health Canada are annihilated and discredited by those very same
health care workers, who have decided to set their own agendas for
conspiring to change public policy regarding pest control products.

The alliance between state and activists

The alliance, or conspiracy, between the Government of Ontario and the environmental movement is evident. The Ontario Premier himself, with credentials in biology, has been totally seduced by the motivations and the agendas of the environmental movement. Why was he so easily seduced? The Premier was born and raised in Ottawa. His riding as member of parliament has been in Ottawa. Ottawa. The backyard for a number of militant environmental groups, like the Sierra Club of Canada. The Premier’s roots with these people must run deep. He has evidently shared common goals with these people for years. Perhaps even decades. Armed with his deep knowledge in biology, and his non-existent knowledge of pest control products, he, too, has decided to ignore and contradict the “sound science” of Health Canada, in favour of the “politicized science” that now dictates his actions. 
Even the Premier’s own Minister of the Environment is “cozy” with the activists. Here is a statement from him when he spoke at a dinner hosted by the environmental movement on Dec. 16, 2008: “I’d like to acknowledge the tremendous support we received from Jan Kasperski, CEO of the Ontario College of Family Physicians; Gideon Foreman of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment; along with that of many of your organizations.”


It is clear that politicized science has been adopted by the Government of Ontario in order to satisfy its environmental allies. The politicization of science occurs when the environmental movement uses political, economic, or legal pressures, to influence public policy. Politicized science has always triumphed whenever politics have outweighed scientific fact. Politicized science has prevailed when measures were taken that often had little basis in fact or science. In this case, politicized science indicates that the so-called cosmetic pesticides are potentially harmful to human health and the environment. In fact, the environmental movement is now employing the term “suggestive” to explain the supposed relationship between so-called human health problems and pest control products. In other words, the use of the word “suggestive ” can be interpreted to mean, “we don’t know what we’re talking about, but we want to act as fear–mongers nonetheless.”

The unnecessary risks of cosmetic pesticides


All conventional pest control products, specifically the cosmetic ones, represent, in the eyes of the Government of Ontario and its environmental allies, an “unnecessary” risk for health and the environment, and especially, apparently, for children. 

Here is a statement from the Ontario Minister of the Environment on March 4, 2009: “I’m proud to say that, when the ban takes effect on Earth Day, we will have eliminated this unnecessary risk to our environment, our families, and especially our children.”

This conclusion has been based, primarily, on the findings of a literature review performed by The Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP). 

Under the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, only a favoured few pest control products will be routinely allowed for use by the professional lawn care industry—the “Class 11 Pesticides.”

The green alternatives allowed in Ontario

According to the Government of Ontario, Class 11 represents  the “bio–pesticides” or “lower risk pesticides,” which are to be routinely used by the professional lawn care industry. These ingredients are presumably non-cosmetic and safer to use.

Examples of Ontario Class 11 Pesticides: azadirachtin, acetic acid, bacillus, boric acid,  capsaicin, corn gluten meal, diatomaceous earth, dried blood, fatty acid, iron, lime sulphur, mineral oil, piperine, putrescent whole egg solid, sclerotinia minor, soap, sulphur. 

Professional Lawn Care Association of Ontario (PLCAO) will be supplying the industry, as of April 30, 2009, the new “green notice signs,” which are required for public posting after an application of the now favoured Ontario “Class 11 Pesticides.” 

The validity of OCFP literature review

This review, released in 2004, is basically a rendering of the most alarming research reports on pest control products, “cherry picked” by simple physicians, and not research scientists, from the overwhelmingly vast number of reports that dictate otherwise, including those published by Health Canada.

According to members of the environmental movement, The Ontario College of Family Physicians publication called “Pesticide Literature Review” is a “landmark document” on the effects on human health due to the exposure to pest control products. The report represents the scientific views of a so-called expert team of medical doctors representing 9,000 family physicians. The review found very troubling associations between exposure and an increased risk of cancer, neurological illness, and reproductive problems. Based on its “cherry picking” of the existing research literature, OCFP concluded that Ontarians should “avoid exposure to all pesticides whenever and wherever possible,”

It should be pointed out that physicians, and family physicians in particular, really have no training, expertise, or competence, in the field of pest control products. In order to allow “sound science” to be effectively practiced, it would be preferable leave the interpretation of scientific research to those people who are competent to do it—Health Canada.

Here is an independent assessment of the OCFP review by the government agency Advisory Committee Of Pesticides (ACP) in the United Kingdom: 

“(…) the report overall is scientifically weak, its main flaw being to draw inappropriate conclusions and make impractical recommendations for risk management on the basis of superficial consideration of an incomplete and biased selection of the relevant scientific evidence.”

CropLife Canada, the group that represents the manufacturers of pest control products, has taken a similar position regarding the OCFP report: “In the case of the Ontario College of Family Physicians (OCFP) review, there were significant flaws found in the report. Scientists within the PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada) and elsewhere have carefully reviewed the OCFP report. As indicated by the PMRA, the report did not consider all or even most of the relevant epidemiology evidence. In fact, the OCFP ignored a large body of extremely important and widely recognized research.”

In Canada, pest control products, or pesticides, are regulated by Health Canada under the Pest Control Products Act, and are among the most stringently regulated substances in Canada. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is the branch of Health Canada that administers the Act on behalf of the Minister of Health. The primary objective of the PMRA is to prevent unacceptable risks to people and the environment from the use of pest control products.

The reputation of Health Canada

The catastrophic prohibition conspiracy in the Province of Ontario, which is now progressing furiously into Atlantic and Western Canada, is not only an attack on the professional lawn care industry, it is a challenge to the Canadian federal government itself, and its institutions. If Health Canada cannot be relied upon to evaluate and approve pest control products, then who can? 

In May 2008, Health Canada commented on the matter of concerns about the so-called cosmetic pesticides: “PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency) feels these concerns are not supported by modern science, and that the credibility of Health Canada’s scientific review process is being questioned.”

The decisions of Health Canada have not always suited the environmentalists’ more radical leanings toward politicized science. Regarding the fate of 2,4-D, Health Canada recently made the following fateful decision regarding the safety of the herbicide most hated by the environmental movement: “No other international regulatory body considers 2,4-D to be a human carcinogen. (…)  Health Canada found that 2,4-D does not increase the risk of cancer and can be used safely by homeowners, provided label directions are followed.”
Beyond the walls of the buildings that house the hundreds of Health Canada scientists, all experts in the fields of toxicology, human health, pollution, etc…, who else is equally and more competent to properly evaluate our pest control products?

Here are three statements that have been made by Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada:

“Unlike other levels of government, the PMRA system has to be based on science.”
“PMRA feels these concerns are not supported by modern science, and that the credibility of Health Canada’s scientific review process is being questioned.”

“Authorities looking at (bans) will have to consider the unintended consequences they create, including the difficulty to effectively enforce this type of legislation, the issue of how it would be challenged in court, the possibility of black market/cross-border activities and the use of home-made remedies to replace use of registered products.”

For 2,4-D alone, Health Canada scientists recently conducted a comprehensive and extensive review of the research concerning this herbicide. Its conclusions were dismissed by the Government of Ontario and its environmental allies. Here is an excerpt: “There is reasonable certainty that no harm to human health, future generations, or the environment will result from use or exposure to this product.”

The 2,4-D debacle is an example of the battle between “sound science,” practiced by Health Canada, and “politicized science,” employed by politicians and environmentalists alike.

And while Health Canada is being drained of its credibility before provincial politicians and the public in general, the people being relied upon the most are now the health care workers and environmentalists who have burst upon the scene with their tales of doom and gloom concerning pest control products. These people have erected multi-million dollar organizations, many of them financed by our own tax dollars, that now operate with budgets worth millions of dollars, but employ a few hundred people only. They have built their empires at the expense of the green space industry.

The fate of the green space industry

By stark contrast, the green space industry, with revenues in the hundreds of millions, and even billions, of dollars, with tens of thousands of employees, is being decimated piece by piece, city by city, province by province. Sadly, those mere hundreds employed with green jobs within environmental organizations will benefits from safe and secure employment, possibly at the expense of tens of thousands of green space industry employees, who now face uncertain futures, with the possibility of destitution and despair. 

Just a decade ago, the green space industry consistently offered a bright future to all who it employed. Now, it is an industry to be shunned. Well-paid certified professionals, with the expertise in matters of pest control products, are now being told to consider lower paying jobs as weed-pullers and insect-pickers. These are the “green” jobs that will help protect the public’s health and the environment, since picking and pulling are safer alternatives, supposedly, than chemical pest control.

The question of valid alternatives

What about the so-called green alternatives? We are assured by the Government of Ontario and the environmental movement that these alternatives exist. 

According to the Ontario Minister of the Environment, on March 4, 2008, on the matter of the prohibition and so-called alternatives, here is his statement: “There are no exceptions for pest infestations (insects, fungi or weeds) in these areas (i.e. lawns), as lower risk pesticides, bio-pesticides and alternatives to pesticides exist.”
Reportedly, the green alternatives are safer. The green alternatives are more environmentally-friendly. And, they are just as effective as conventional pest control products. NOT.

It may interest everyone to know that those people promoting these exaggerated characteristics, those people advising the government that these alternatives exist…they are often the same people who are highly invested with these products. They are the suppliers and users of green alternatives. Several members of the environmental movement have been reduced to acting like sales representatives for green alternatives. One would have thought that the government would have shown more discernment, and realized that much of the question of prohibition often revolves less around health and environment concerns, and more around the sale of alternative products. Prohibition has become a sales strategy used to keep people from purchasing conventional products, manufactured by the hated multi-national companies located outside of Canada.

The “green environmental sales reps” also point out that many organic lawn products, such as beneficial nematodes, composts, corn gluten meal, and horticultural vinegar, are conveniently produced in Canada, in the Province of Ontario, implying by contrast that many of the non-essential conventional lawn chemicals are made by “evil foreign powers” in Europe or the United States.

The green alternatives are NOT an improvement

A thorough review of the array of green alternatives available to the green space industry has provided surprising results. In general, none are safer. None are more effective. None are friendlier for the environment. Several have not even been entirely evaluated for human toxicology or environmental impact. In fact, some may be deemed as being more of a hazard when compared to the current array of conventional products. This is the great deception that will hurt the green space industry even more. With its current arsenal of effective pest controls now neutralized, the less effective products will lead to increased costs in operations, and increased customer dissatisfaction. If the professional lawn care industry cannot be relied upon to effectively control pests in lawns, then who can? The companies that preach organic lawn care? Surprisingly, organic lawn care companies are considered as a part of the professional lawn care industry. Is this a conflict of interest? And what is the role of these companies within an industry of conventional pest control users? 

The role of organic lawn care companies

Sadly, some organic lawn care companies within the ranks of the green space industry are preaching parables of misinformation that simply adds fuel to an already catastrophic situation. It is time for the industry to consider whether these companies are welcome within the ranks of their own trade associations. Yes. We mean expel them, and discredit their work. Is this right to do?

Here is an example of misinformation obtained by the Government of Ontario released on March 4, 2009: “According to the Organic Landscape Alliance, chemical-dependent lawns are highly susceptible to pests and diseases, whereas a healthy lawn can survive several weeks in a dormant state, is less likely to be damaged by pests and is less affected by drought, temperature extremes and general wear and tear.” — info@organiclandscape.org

The industry challenge to the Ontario prohibition

Here is a media release from Jeffrey Lowes, Government Relations, M–REP Communications,  jplowes@cogeco.ca, issued on March 4, 2009: “Given the questionable nature of information used by the Ontario Government, we will be seeking an injunction against the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act.”

And, here is another statement from Lowes on April 21, 2009: “Lobbying the government  (of Ontario)  is a lost cause. It’s going to have to be done through the courts. This is not an industry that needed a bailout to employ 21,000 people.”

The Ontario Minister of the Environment has already indicated that he is not concerned by the looming threat of a legal challenge. Here is a defiant statement from the confident John Gerretsen on April 21, 2009 (jgerretsen.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org): “We think we’re doing absolutely the right thing by banning pesticides from our lawns and gardens, and we’ll have to wait and see what the courts say about that. But I’m quite confident that they will uphold the right of Ontario to take this kind of an action.”

The political challenge to the prohibition in Ontario

The Ontario PC Party, formally known as the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, is officially referred to as The Official Opposition Party. Its attitude has been “ lukewarm” towards the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act. Here is a statement from one of its Members of Provincial Parliament:

“As Official Opposition, we support the elimination of non-essential pesticide use. But there must be a clear delineation of the difference between non-essential use of pesticides vs. cosmetic use.

“For example, there are a series of health and environmental risks that are controlled through the use of pesticides—everything from severe allergies, to insect infestations, to sports injuries. We must be sure there is an ability for the use of pesticides in essential situations—as opposed to cosmetic—to ensure protection in cases of health and environmental risks.

“We must demand that the science behind this prohibition is solid and ensure that the emotional aspect of the anti-pesticide argument does not override science and fact.”

There are now very clear indicators that the Ontario PC Party is considering to establish part of its new political platform on the review, and perhaps the rescinding, of the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act.

The civil disobedience of environmental activists in Ontario

Soon after April 22, 2009, when the full force of the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act came into effect, some companies in the professional lawn care industry have reported that their employees are being harassed by environmental activists, who are demanding access to trucks in their search for chemicals. Employees are being told that if they observe someone going into a vehicle, the local police department should be contacted. 
We are now not only living in “the era of 9/11 for the green space industry,” we are also witnessing “the siege of environmental terrorism.” This is not a new strategy on the part of the environmental movement. 

In the 1990s, during the debate concerning the prohibition in Quebec, members of the environmental movement frequently practiced civil disobedience and harassment of professional lawn care companies. Some would lay down in front of lawn care vehicles, and create a media spectacle. Young activist women dressed in spandex attended public forums with young children who were encourage to cry and bawl in order to disrupt the proceedings. (Spandex is apparently the fabric of choice for all well-dressed members of the environmental movement.) Additionally, municipal town council meetings were explosive with activists presenting themselves wearing gas masks, again with the media in tow, followed by mock outbursts of blood-curdling screaming and yelling as they were being escorted from the chambers by police. These people have helped reinforce the belief that the environmental movement is operated by so-called “whack jobs.”

The role of Canadian Cancer Society

The prohibition carnage is continuing from coast to coast. Various members of the environmental movement are pressuring municipal and provincial authorities to capitulate to their better judgment on the matter of prohibiting pest control products. In almost every province, the once non-partisan Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), sometimes with The Lung Association, begins the charge with surveys or polls indicating that the public wants a change in public policy concerning the so-called dangerous lawn chemicals. The polls are also a means of pressuring politicians and the public to “go with the flow.”

Here are two examples of polls commissioned by CCS :

“A 2007 Oracle Poll of 1,000 Ontario residents showed 71 per cent of Ontarians support province-wide restrictions on pesticides.” — March 4, 2009.

“An Ipsos-Reid poll conducted in December and released yesterday found 79 per cent of respondents support a provincial ban on non-essential use of pesticides, while 75 per cent support a ban on the sale of pesticides.” —  Feb. 18, 2009.

On April 5, 2009, a public affairs spokesman for CCS issued the following statement in British Columbia: “The Canadian Cancer Society is concerned that there might be cancer-causing substances in pesticides. (…) We know that the evidence is suggestive, but it is growing. (…) There is some risk of harm, and the use of lawn and garden pesticides are non-essential. Many safe alternatives exist, and there’s no health benefit to using lawn and garden pesticides.”

It is interesting to note that Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), through its promotional literature, continues to insist there is a link between pest control products and cancer, despite the fact that American Cancer Society does not share the same viewpoint.

And there are very clear indicators that CCS will soon begin the same prohibition strategies against the agriculture Industry.

It is also interesting to note that Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is operated by some of the same people who manage Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), which itself is funded by CCS
And there is a clear CCS overlap with other groups, through its public affairs shield organization called Prevent Cancer Now.

Based upon the sound science of experts in the domain of pest control products, the health of the public may be better served if all the resources of Canadian Cancer Society and other environmental groups, currently focused on the prohibition of cosmetic pesticides, were redirected towards improving the lifestyle choices of the population, such as diet and exercise.

The role of David Suzuki Foundation

Here are two interesting statements from this group:

“The Ontario law is something the David Suzuki Foundation, along with a range of health and environmental organizations, has been pushing for.” — March 17, 2009.

“The Suzuki Foundation challenges other provinces to meet or beat Ontario’s ban on cosmetic pesticides to ensure a high standard of protection for human health and the environment across the country. ” — March 4, 2009
The beloved Canadian media icon, David Takayoshi Suzuki, operates arguably the largest multi-million-dollar environmental organization in Canada. David Suzuki Foundation is a non-profit, independent charity that does not accept government grants. It claims to be funded by more than 40,000 donors from around the world (including 18,000 in Ontario), as well as more than 50 corporations and foundations. Suzuki operates across Canada and the United States, but its business headquarters, with more than 50 employees, is located in Vancouver. It operates with a budget of more than $6 million per year. Suzuki has branch offices in Ottawa and Montreal. David Suzuki Foundation was co-founded in 1991 by the broadcaster and scientist David Suzuki himself. Contact@davidsuzuki.org   or  solutions@davidsuzuki.org.

If there is a “leader” of the environmental movement in Canada, it has to be Suzuki. His role as leader is mostly by default, and because its founder has been prominent for such a long time in Canadian society. Suzuki himself is smart, charming, eloquent, and discreet. He is considered, nonetheless, as “the Puppet Master” of the environmental movement.

David Suzuki Foundation has forged a close alliance with Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), and both appear to mutually fund each other’s projects.

Unfortunately, Suzuki and his group are both out of their depth when it comes to pest control products. Although David Suzuki Foundation has acquired vast expertise in many things environmental, this is one area where it is responding without any idea what the true issues are all about.

The prohibition racing across British Columbia

In the Province of British Columbia, David Suzuki is leading the charge against pest control products. Although it appears doubtful that a provincial prohibition is in the works, it is quite clear most major municipalities throughout B.C. will have enacted their own prohibitions against cosmetic pesticides by 2010 or 2011, especially since the Union of B.C. Municipalities gave its seal of approval in September 2008.

As of April 2009, the following B.C. municipalities have enacted, or promised to enact, a prohibition — Burnaby, Comox, Courtenay, Cumberland, Esquimalt, Gibsons, Invermere (comes into effect May 2009), Kelowna, Maple Ridge, Nelson, New Westminster (comes into effect March 2010), North Vancouver, Port Moody, Richmond, Salmon Arm (comes into effect March 2010), Sechelt, Vancouver, Victoria, West Vancouver, Whistler.

The prohibition taking hold in Atlantic Canada

The provinces in Atlantic Canada will likely entirely succumb to the prohibition question by 2011 or 2012. As of January 2009, four communities in the Province of New Brunswick have enacted prohibitions: Shediac, Caraquet, Sackville, Saint Andrew’s. In the Province of  Nova Scotia, Halifax Regional Municipality issued a prohibition, which came into full force on April 1, 2003. And in the tiny Province of Prince Edward Island, the government intends to ban the sale of cosmetic pesticides starting in 2010.

The aspirations and activities of CAPE

In the Provinces of New Brunswick and Alberta, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) has mounted an aggressive charge against cosmetic pesticides, in its zeal to expand its membership beyond the borders of Ontario. CAPE has now grown into a million-dollar, money-making operation. It needs more breathing room and wants more members.

CAPE, and its allies in Atlantic Canada, insist that, based upon the squewed findings of a survey performed in Halifax, the professional lawn care industry has actually increased its number of companies by 53 per cent as a result of the municipal prohibition which came into effect in 2003. 

Here is an example of a statement from Gideon Forman of CAPE on Feb. 23, 2009 in Moncton: “Going pesticide-free is not only good for human and environmental health. It’s also beneficial for the lawn care industry.”
Here is another statement from Forman on April 20, 2009: “So the new pesticide ban (in Ontario) is a winner: good for the planet, good for our kids, good for employment.”

This is clearly a tactic designed to deflect the issues of bankruptcy and unemployment that will inevitably follow any prohibition. In reality, the operational revenues of the professional lawn care industry dropped by 40 per cent with most of the nine companies that operate in the Halifax area, and it has taken them five years to recover from those losses. (Source: Jeffrey Lowes.)

In the Province of Ontario, CAPE and other members of the environmental movement have been elevated to a very special status within the Government of Ontario. In its summer 2008 newsletter, CAPE described its special status with the Ontario Minister of the Environment:

“The year 2008 started on a high note as cape chaired an in-person meeting between Ontario Environment Minister John Gerretsen and health-and-environment organizations on the issue of lawn pesticides. The government had promised to ban these products and CAPE and its partners were meeting the Minister to outline their vision of the new legislation. We were particularly encouraged because our meeting was one of the Minister’s very first consultations with stakeholders‚ said CAPE Executive Director Gideon Forman. I think it’s a measure of the weight that health groups bring to the table.”

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) has forged a close alliance with David Suzuki Foundation, and both appear to mutually fund each other’s projects.
Gideon Forman, the executive director of CAPE (gideon@cape.ca) is the current heir apparent to the aging Suzuki.
The prohibition in Quebec

The one bright spot is Quebec, where a prohibition, in existence since 2006, is now being challenged by a manufacturer. Dow AgroSciences, the proud owner of the hated herbicide 2,4-D has declared that it has had enough, and is invoking its rights as a company that manufactures a product that has been given a clean bill of health by Health Canada. Dow argues that the federal government owes millions of dollars in lost revenues for a product that was prohibited needlessly. Dow’s case is based upon Chapter 11 of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Here is what Dow AgroSciences had to say in a media release on Oct. 24, 2008: “The actions of the Government of Quebec are tantamount to a blanket ban based on non-scientific criteria. (…) The PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada) concluded that 2,4-D can be used safely according to label directions for a variety of lawn, turf and agricultural applications, and that the product meets all of Canada’s pesticide health and safety regulations, which are among the toughest and most stringent in the world.”

The NAFTA Chapter 11 scenario has the environmental movement extremely worried. This scenario has dogged the movement for years for other hated products, such as chlordane, DDT, and lindane. If this scenario plays out in its entirety, the Canadian federal government may ultimately be forced to dispense hundreds of millions of dollars for every pest control product prohibited in every province and municipality across Canada. This scenario is mind boggling to people such as David Suzuki, who has retained the services of lawyers concerning the matter in an effort to pressure the federal government to avert this jurisdictional catastrophe.

Here is a statement from the Suzuki lawyer on March 24, 2009: “We cannot allow U.S. businesses to handcuff provinces from applying the precautionary principle when it comes to protecting residents from potentially cancer-causing chemicals. If the NAFTA challenge proceeds, we will seek to intervene and submit the viewpoint of environmental groups.”

Everyone knows that the Government of Quebec and the Canadian Federal Government are both in a bind over the issue of 2,4-D. The federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada has recently determined that 2,4-D meets Canada’s strict health and safety standards, and as such is acceptable for continued registration in Canada.

The looming Canadian national prohibition

There are now an increasing number of calls for a national prohibition of cosmetic pesticides. National Democratic Party of Canada (NDP), the mere third opposition party in Ottawa, desperate to resurrect the standing that it lost during the last election, has formally been seduced by the Canadian Cancer Society, and is seeking a national prohibition. It is a little-known fact that the leader of NDP, Jack Layton, was born and raised in Hudson, Que., the birthplace of the very first municipal prohibition against pest control products.

Here is an excerpt from a parliamentary speech made by Layton on May 16, 2006:  Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on behalf of all New Democrats on our motion to ban the use of pesticides used for cosmetic purposes in private homes and public spaces—a motion that I’m pleased to have rest in my name. ”

Additionally, on Nov. 10, 2008, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) delivered to the Canadian Federal Parliament the first 10,000 petitions collected as part of its “Petition of Pesticides” campaign. The initiative calls for a prohibition on “toxic lawn chemicals” right across Canada.

The ENTIRE industry is threatened

It will be many years before anybody realizes that the Canadian market is now finished as far as many chemical manufacturers are concerned. For the foreseeable future,Canada will no longer benefit from ANY additional investment regarding new technologies in pest control products. That’s it. Game over. Just like the companies that vacated the Province of Quebec in the 1970s because of a new separatist government, chemical manufacturers are already beginning to plan their exodus from Canada. Businesses abhor operating in markets made unstable by “terrorism,” whether it be political or environmental. Consequently, the manufacturers are “terrified” at the prospect of investing hundreds of millions of dollars on the research and registration of new products in an “unstable” Canada. The exit strategies are now assured. This exodus will apply to ALL of Canada. From EVERY industry sector. Even from those sectors that benefit from the status of “exception.” Like the golf industry. Like the agriculture Industry.

Here is a statement from Canadian Consumer Specialty Products on March 4, 2009: “The new Ontario regulation does not provide for a predictable or transparent regulatory process or allow innovative products to come to the marketplace. Without any clear, science-based criteria or process, manufacturers will be reluctant to invest in new technology and jobs in this province.”

The golf industry exception status

We have ranted and raved about the obvious shortcomings of the golf industry in its refusal to join the professional lawn care industry to legally challenge the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act. Our opinion has not changed, and we have no intention of stopping our criticism of this myopic industry. The Canadian Golf Superintendents Association (CGSA) will struggle in vain to maintain its exception status, which we predict will be lost within three to five years. The CGSA will ultimately be forced to join the litigation battle with the professional lawn care industry. Additionally, the golf industry can forget about any new pest control technology for itself. That ship has sailed.

One more bit of criticism. In an ideal world, the members of the golf industry would be actively supporting the cause to fight the sweeping prohibitions across the country. They would give money and volunteer their time to help their lawn industry comrades survive and defeat this very important challenge. In an ideal world, this would be preferable than to supply time and energy towards causes like doing volunteer work for the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, or volunteering to build homes in hurricane-ravaged Louisiana. Perhaps time and energy could now be spent her at home lending support to the 21,000 Ontario workers and 1,300 companies that face unemployment, bankruptcy, homelessness, destitution, and desperation. Well. Think about it. Supporting your comrades at home is not as glamorous as cutting grass for the U.S. Masters Tournament. But, it is the right thing to do.

Acknowledging those individuals who HAVE done the right thing

Professor Keith Solomon, Centre for Toxicology, University of Guelph, Ont. Both he and his wife, Sandra, must be acknowledged for having effectively responded on some highly technical and political issues. We wish to thank the Solomons for their efforts. ksolomon@uoguelph.ca

Here are three examples of the wisdom of the Solomons in letters to the editor throughout Southwestern Ontario:
“Landscape pesticides do not build up in the environment or humans—if they did, they would not be allowed for use. For example, the herbicide 2,4-D has a half life in soils of about two weeks and no persistence beyond season of use.”

“The National Cancer Institute of Canada’s databases do not indicate an increase in incidence of most cancers and, for the few that show small increases, there are more plausible explanations than pesticides.”
“Using this label (cosmetic) for a pesticide is a value judgment and, given the toxicological expertise on most councils, is not based on health issues and is equivalent to banning hair dye or shaving, both of which are cosmetic.”

Lorne Hepworth, President, CropLife Canada, hepworth@croplife.ca. In letters to the editor across Canada, Hepworth has personally spoken out against activists and prohibitions on a very frequent basis. CropLife Canada is the trade association representing the manufacturers, developers, and distributors of plant science innovations—pest control products and plant biotechnology—for use in agriculture, urban and public health settings. Unfortunately, Hepworth appears to be a lone voice among those manufacturers who are refusing to get more directly involved to fight the prohibition conspiracy, except, of course, for Dow AgroSciences. We nonetheless wish to thank Hepworth for his efforts.

Here is an example of some of Hepworth’s comments in letters to the editor throughout Canada: “It’s a shame that the Ontario government is unwilling to do the hard work of giving due consideration to the many sides of a thorny issue when there is a vocal minority to appease. Such is the case with Ontario’s decision to ban pesticide use on lawns and gardens—a decision that is both short-sighted and misguided. ”

Tony DiGiovanni, Executive Director, Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association  (LO), tonydigiovanni@landscapeontario.com.  In letters to the editor across Ontario, DiGiovanni has also personally spoken out against activists and prohibitions on a very frequent basis. We must also acknowledge that, early in the battle against environmental terrorism in Ontario, LO expended vast amounts of its resources, which sadly, have become less available today. In essence, LO has reduced itself to merely presiding over the funeral of an industry that it once staunchly defended. We nonetheless wish to thank DiGiovanni for his efforts.

Here are examples of some of DiGiovanni’s comments in letters to the editor throughout Ontario. This first one is from May 6, 2009: “The government actions are callous, insensitive, extreme and disrespectful to a growth industry that employs over 66,388 full-time people (22,000 in the turfgrass sector alone). Many safe and effective products have been taken away from the industry and public.”

Here is a quote from DiGiovanni, also from May 6, 2009, that we are particularly fond of: “Many jobs will be put at risk at a time when government should be helping growth industries to expand and create more employment. I am not aware of any other sector in history that has been treated with absolutely no empathy.”

Jeffrey Lowes, Director of Government and Industrial Relations, M–REP Communications,   jplowes@cogeco.ca. M–REP Communications represents lawn and tree care companies in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. This has made M–REP one of the largest organizations in Canada as the voice of the lawn and tree care industries in government circles. M–REP Communications has embarked on engaging the federal levels of government that regulate or use the services of the lawn and tree care industries and working with their provincial counterparts.

The success of a legal challenge against the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act rests in the hands of Jeffrey Lowes. We encourage all of our readers to contact Lowes, and give him their financial support.

About the principal author

William H. Gathercole has been following the evolution of environmental terrorism for more than a quarter-century. He holds a degree in horticulture from the University of Guelph, and another pure and applied science degree from McGill University. He has worked in virtually all aspects of the green space industry, including public relations and environmental safety. Mr. Gathercole has been a consultant and instructor for decades. He is a contributing columnist for Turf & Recreation.

Personal note and disclaimer

Bill continues to recover from his serious motor vehicle accident. In order to complete this particular article, it has been co-authored with Norah G. Well-wishers may send a personal note to Bill by way of this magazine, or by email to whg007@gmail.com. By the way, the opinions expressed in this article, even though from an independent perspective, may not reflect those of Turf & Recreation.

References for readers who are curious at heart

Although every item found within this article has been carefully researched, there is no exhaustive list of references since this is not a scientific journal. And besides, the sheer number of references and documents that were used to support this article are far too numerous to list within the confines of this magazine. However, the authors will provide references to any reader who requests them. Please send your request to whg007@gmail.com

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