Special Committee Timeline

12.02.01.Pesticide Debate200The very first meeting of the BC government, bi-partisan ‘Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides’ took place on July 6, 2011 in Vancouver.  That 45 minute meeting set the stage for what will eventually become a recommendation to the parliament [by February 2012] regarding the future of pesticide use in this province. 

The committee was struck by Premier Christy Clark subsequent to her public promise vowing to protect the health of British Columbia families and after the Adrian Dix Private Member’s bill calling for an outright ban on all cosmetic pesticides was left on the table at the end of the spring session. 

The first order of business was to elect a chair and co-chair; Dr. Margaret McDiarmid, Liberal MLA for Vancouver-Fairview and Rob Flemming, NDP MLA for Victoria – Swan Lake, respectively took on those roles.  The second item on the agenda was to determine terms of reference and set a meeting schedule.

It turned out that even these preliminary tasks proved difficult as those following closely saw the meeting schedule change almost by the minute, saw Dr. McDiarmid assume a cabinet position and move off the committee with Bill Bennett assuming the role of chair and we have yet to see any conclusive definition of the term ‘cosmetic’ as it relates to pesticides.  

Nonetheless, the meetings proceeded throughout the summer, into fall and early winter:  Aug 22nd, Oct 6 and Oct 26 in Victoria, Nov 7 and 8 in Vancouver and Nov 17 and Nov 22 back in Victoria.

The first ‘real’ meeting of the committee saw three high level staffers from the BC Ministry of Environment make a presentation designed to outline the current legislation in place. Many of the questions fielded, especially by the NDP, should really have been directed at Health Canada so it was not a big surprise that Mr. Lindsay Hanson from the PMRA was invited to the Oct 6 meeting to outline the federal jurisdiction.

Just to back-track for a moment, Bill M 203 – 2011, aka the Cosmetic Pesticide and Carcinogen Control Act, was not ‘defeated’ as some in the turf business were premature to conclude when it didn’t get past first reading in the 2011 Spring Session of Parliament.  In fact, those of us who attended the Golf Awareness Day on May 18 in Victoria were told quite frankly, that some form of further restrictive legislation was coming down the pipe and the formation of the Special Committee was actually the next step in the process.  This new committee was tasked with making a recommendation to the parliament and it didn’t seem likely, even in the early stages, that the committee would make a recommendation to do nothing.

To resume, somewhere along the line the committee decided a public consultation was in order.  A website popped up one day in mid-October with an on-line survey and a call for submissions which could include a written or video.  This seemed redundant to stakeholders and interested parties on both sides of the issue as an exhaustive consultation was undertaken just a year ago by the BC Ministry of Environment.  The survey itself seemed very biased toward the anti pesticide argument, at least in the opinion of several people who spoke to me about it.

At any rate, the committee must have had a rationale for another public consultation and submissions began coming in.  The October 26 meeting was the start of stakeholder presentations and we’re assuming the Committee had the ability to call ‘witnesses’ arbitrarily although it seemed like most presentations were from groups that had likely made a formal submission to the committee. 

The consultation remained open until December 16th and the only other thing we know, as stated earlier, is that the committee is tasked with making a recommendation to parliament by February of 2012.