Movement toward province-wide ban on cosmetic use of pesticides gains momentum

May 17, 2010

Movement toward province-wide ban on cosmetic use of pesticides gains momentum by Jonathan Aiyadurai In the summer of 2008, the Environmental Law Centre was retained by the Canadian Cancer Society (BC & Yukon branch) and Toxic Free Canada to prepare a draft provincial statute to ban the sale and use of pesticides used for cosmetic purposes, specifically pesticides that contain carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Provincial bans have been enacted in Quebec and Ontario. The Canadian Cancer Society and Toxic Free Canada hope a similar ban will be enacted soon in British Columbia. Some features of the draft statute include:

  • A province-wide ban on the use and sale of pesticides used for cosmetic purposes. The ban on sale will be more effective than the current municipal bylaws in British Columbia which only regulate the use of such pesticides;
  • A provision that existing municipal bylaws regarding the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes will remain operative alongside the provincial law; and
  • A “white list” schedule of permitted pesticides, which will better educate the public on safe alternatives to the pesticides the statute seeks to ban.

In the spring of 2009, the Canadian Cancer Society, Toxic Free Canada, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), and the ELC, represented by Jonathan Aiyadurai, presented the draft statute to the BC Minister of Environment. A few months later, NDP MLA Rob Flemming tabled the draft statute in the BC Legislature as Bill M 206: the Cosmetic Pesticide and Carcinogen Control Act. In December 2009, BC Minister of Environment Barry Penner announced an online public consultation process, seeking the public’s input on whether the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides should be restricted province-wide. The Canadian Cancer Society and Toxic Free Canada again sought the ELC’s assistance in drafting persuasive submissions calling on the government to legislate the draft statute. The submissions were drafted by ELC intensive students Steve Catania, Morgan Blakely, Ethan Krindle, Sunny Zhai and ELC articling student Jill Vivian and were presented to the government. The perseverance of the ELC, its clients, and the growing support of the public will likely contribute to the passing of effective cosmetic pesticide legislation in the near future.

Read more about ELC’s work on banning cosmetic pesticides.

Mae Burrows, one of the clients, expressed her appreciation for the ELC: Jill, Calvin and ELC, and Kathryn and Lisa, You’ve done an amazing job of pulling these very comprehensive recommendations together in such a short time frame. We are very comfortable with the perspectives and details throughout the document… I thank both my colleagues Kathryn and Lisa, as well as all the people at the ELC who have done this work. With this kind of quality analysis put before the government and the public, we’re ever closer to winning this legislation.

ELC Summer 2008 clinic student Jonathan Aiyadurai

My ELC term attracted me to environmental law and public interest advocacy. My file coordinated the efforts of three organizations in drafting model legislation regulating the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides in British Columbia. Thanks to the ELC, I became so engaged with my file that I continue to volunteer for my clients one year later. Jonathan hopes to establish a career in tax law, and was certainly not focused on environmental law when he came to law school. He is a good example of the impact the ELC can have on lawyers who may not become full-time environmental advocates — but may be influenced by their ELC experiences at a formative time in their lives. As they become the future’s opinion makers and leaders, these young lawyers can become significant voices for environmental protection.

ELC articled student Jill Vivian

ELC articling student Jill Vivian, who aspires to become Minister of Environment, described her experience on the project: …engaging and highly educational. I learned a lot, both in terms of substantive law and the serious concerns regarding pesticide use, and in terms of teamwork and how to collaborate with a variety of actors to build the most effective submissions possible. I think that the experience of drafting a government submission, including the extensive collaboration, drafting, and editing process involved, will be of great assistance to me in future projects. It was also great to be involved in such an important project with such an immediate use, and hopefully, resulting benefits.