SSNB Issues 5th Annual Report Card to Elected Political Parties at the GNB Legislative Assembly on July 22, 2022.

Another legislative session has come and gone.

SSNB board members held a press conference on July 22, 2022 to issue their report card.

5th Annual Report on the Efforts of New Brunswick Political Parties on the issue of #StopSprayingNB

Stop Spraying NB’s grades for this year are: An F for the governing PC party for their complete failure to act; a D+ for the Liberals for making explicit election campaign promises in 2020 but back-pedaling after the 2020 election; and a B+ for the NB Green Party for efforts during deliberations by the Standing Committee and after report submission by this committee.

The 2021/2022 sessions of the 60th Legislature have yet to see any concrete action on the issue of banning spraying of herbicides on public lands. The Standing Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship delayed its report on glyphosate and other pesticide use in New Brunswick to November 2, 2021, after hearing another week of presentations. This report contains some specific recommendations regarding glyphosate use on New Brunswick’s public forests and by NB Power. So far, we have seen no implementation of any of the 20 recommendations.

During the 2020 provincial election, every political party in New Brunswick, with the exception of the PC party, promised elimination or a phase-out of glyphosate and other similar herbicides spraying on Crown forests, which is fifty percent of New Brunswick’s forest land-base. In light of these campaign promises, and the submitted report by the Standing Committee on November 2, 2021 on an issue that is clearly very important to so many people in New Brunswick, it is disappointing that we have not heard much said at the Legislature by the elected parties, aside from the NB Green Party, about the recommendations, some of which had recommended timelines.

 “Although we participated as a presenter, we questioned the process followed by the Standing Committee for the hearings in 2021” says SSNB Chair Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy. “And even though the recommendations by the Standing Committee were just a small step in the right direction, we expected faster action on at least some of the recommendations.  NB Power was low-hanging fruit, and they were quoted by media in a response to questioning of NB Power continuing the status quo, that they need direction from the Department of Environment before stopping herbicide spraying”.

Kim Copp, SSNB board member, states: “Our public forests are very important to many New Brunswickers for hunting, fishing, bird watching and other outdoor recreation. Recently published peer reviewed research of forest degradation bird population loss illustrates that action is needed as quickly as possible. Dr. Matthew Betts concluded in his research that intense forest management in New Brunswick in the period of 1985-2020, with plantations and extensive clearcutting, is driving habitat loss for the 54 most common forest bird species in our forests. The net forest bird declines of the 54 most common species is 33-104 million birds over the last 35 years.”

Aside from not implementing the recommendations by the Standing Committee, the current Progressive Conservative Government so far has not released any documentation to support the following claims and promise made in 2019:

•   Increased transparency and a dedicated website on forestry by the Department of Natural Resource

•   Enforcement of buffer zones (no confirmation that this is happening); and

•   Refusal of spray permits by GNB in municipal watersheds to back up the claim of a 121 hectare reduction

“We need to see concrete action and collaboration between New Brunswick political parties if they are serious about election promises made” says Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy. “We ask this government and all political parties in the province to consider the precautionary principle in light of increased concerns around long-term effects of glyphosate, and to ban the harmful practice of herbicide spraying on our publicly owned Crown forests, which is half of New Bruswick’s forest base. Habitat loss is associated with substantial population declines of forest species.”