NDP says Lake has failed Kamloops in pesticide debate
Environment Minister Terry Lake has "failed Kamloops" by not urging his government to enact a provincial cosmetic-pesticide ban, the B.C. NDP environment critic told media during a Friday, March 8, visit to Kamloops.
Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, blasted the Kamloops-North Thompson MLA and the B.C. Liberal government for offering voters "disingenuous" legislation around pesticides, rather than an outright ban.
The Liberals have proposed legislation that would require a licensed sprayer to apply pesticides to most landscaped areas.
New Democrats have introduced legislation banning the products entirely.
Fleming said the Liberal approach goes against earlier campaign promises by Premier Christy Clark to enact a ban.
Lake also advocated for a provincial ban as mayor of Kamloops.
Fleming said it's "disappointing" to see Lake's position on pesticides change.
"I don't know whether he's silenced his voice in cabinet or whether he has put politics ahead of an issue he once cared about but, for whatever reason, he's failed Kamloops," Fleming said.
Lake said his change of heart came after reading the findings of a bipartisan committee that studied the issue last year.
That committee recommended against a ban and called for more restrictions and education instead.
"We have to remember that all of these chemicals are approved by Health Canada and they're approved, of course, with label directions. Used properly, they should not pose any harm to health," Lake said.
"But, it's the used properly part I always struggled with. Because, as laypeople, we tend to think if a little bit is good, a lot is better. If you're a trained applicator, you know that isn't necessarily the case."
Lake believes Clark showed "leadership" by changing her stance on a pesticide ban after seeing the report.
"Most people, I think, once more evidence is presented, should have the flexibility to modify their thoughts on a particular issue," he said.
"It's not like she just said overnight, 'Oh, I changed my mind.' This was based on extensive committee work."
Fleming, who sat on the committee, said the majority Liberals overrode concerns from NDP members and noted the committee chair, Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, had been critical of cosmetic-pesticide laws in past.
"I don't think she [Clark] chose someone who had an open mind going into that process and the results were quite predictable," Fleming said.
The New Democrats' ban plan is drawing praise from Judy Wigmore, head of Pesticide Free B.C.
A Kamloops resident, Wigmore said she became a pesticide-ban advocate after she discovered her daughter has chemical sensitivities and allergies that are likely due to exposure to the chemicals as a toddler.
"The premier and Minister Lake have not put families and the environment first," she said.
"I've never been political, but this is something the Liberals have backed away on."
Peter Sharp, Kamloops-South Thompson's B.C. Conservative candidate, said his party doesn't have a pesticide policy, but he doesn't think a ban makes sense.
"If you ban it, you can go online and learn how to make your own cosmetic thing. You just look it up, you know, how to make weed and feed," he said.
Sharp said British Columbians could also cross the border or into Alberta to get their pesticide fix.
"If you can still buy it around us, it doesn't make sense to me," he said.