August 23, 2000
The Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister
Room 309-S, Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Prime Minister Chrétien,
As you are aware, the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled its report, Pesticides: Making the right choice, on May 16, 2000. In section 12.8 the Report says: “The Committee firmly believes that a moratorium on pesticide use for esthetic purposes is necessary until science has proven that the pesticides involved do not constitute a health threat and some light has been shed on the consequences of their use in urban areas.”
I am writing now, on behalf of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), to urge you to invoke an Order in Council calling for an immediate moratorium on the cosmetic use of pesticides. As a physicians’ organization, CAPE has serious concerns about the ongoing use of pesticides for such purposes. We were concerned enough, in fact, to make a direct submission to the Standing Committee in which we outlined the reasons why many pesticides are now known to be dangerous and why many others will undoubtedly prove to be dangerous. Our concerns focussed in particular around the potentially devastating effects of pesticides on the health of children.
Bringing the cosmetic use of pesticides to a halt would also show respect for the resolution adopted at the Liberal Party Convention, March 16-19, 2000, which called for an immediate moratorium on the cosmetic use of pesticides until they are scientifically proven to be safe.
We understand the expediencies and compromises that political life often demands. We are also well aware of the intense and well-funded pressures that emanate from the corporate sector to encourage you to maintain the present state of relatively uninhibited pesticide use. Nevertheless, we believe that the termination of cosmetic use is medically and scientifically justified as a profoundly important public health initiative. It is also, we believe, a step that would engender broad public approval, as witnessed by the outpouring of popular support for the recent action in this direction taken by the city of Halifax. We believe it will be a strong confirmation that you are a Prime Minister with a sense of history and a true regard for the future of Canada.
We believe therefore that there is no reason to further delay responding to the position established by the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. We believe it is time to act to protect the health of all Canadians, and to invoke an Order in Council calling for an immediate moratorium on the cosmetic use of pesticides
Warren Bell MD