SSNB issued third annual report card to elected parties in NB Legislature

CBC article about our event:

CBC NEWS at 6 COVERAGE (9 minute mark)

Report on the Efforts of Political Parties on the Issue – the Good, the Bad and the Failed Starts

The 2019/2020 Legislature Sessions (Second and Third of 59th Legislature) have seen some forward motion on the issue of banning spraying of herbicides on public lands but has come far short of actually banning or reducing spraying. Following the 2018 election, SSNB organised an event with all the Parties to discuss the formulation of legislation on the issue and much rhetoric was made about moving the issue forward but we are still waiting for its realisation.

Currently with the elected parties the Green Party has been the most active: Green tabled motion to ban glyphosate on Oct. 24, 2018 however they failed to pursue this motion for second reading and debate. They did however follow this up with tabling Bill #7 in November 2019 that includes a ban on spraying alongside other forestry issues. Sadly, the Greens did not pursue a second reading and debate on their own legislation.

This was followed by the Liberal Party motion tabled also in November 2019 to study glyphosate which was debated and voted on December 2019. During the process the Green Party proposed an amendment during this debate to band spraying on crown land and under NB Power lines which received votes by the Green and People’s Alliance of NB only and thus was defeated. The proposed committee by the Liberal Party was amended into a multi-party standing committee for Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship. First item on the agenda for this committee: Pesticides in general but the current pandemic has sidelined the work of the Committee and the expert testimony needed to seriously discuss the issue.

The current Progressive Conservative Government has also made statements about their support for curbing spraying of herbicides with an announcement in 2019 that 121 hectares reduction in spraying on watersheds. As yet, there has been no actual documentation that spray licenses were denied in watersheds nor if they were actually requested. The rhetoric was also increased with promises made that there would be:

  • more transparent, DERD website (not yet released after 18 months)
  • enforcement of buffer zones (no confirmation that this is happening)
  • 5% more conservation of public land including 300,000 hectares of crown land.

This last point which has been claimed by the Province as a major conservancy effort came at the behest of local CSOs who have been advocating for more conservation and with $9.3 Million of Federal funding made available – half of which will go to purchasing private land to conserve. This commitment for conservation was actually made by the then Liberal Minister Rick Doucet in Fall 2018.  While all conservation is good, the claims of the Province that this was and is a PC led initiative do not stand up to simple scrutiny of the facts. In the SSNB meetings with DERD, it was reported that there will actually be increased intensity of spraying on crown land to meet promised wood supply to industry.

While we are very pleased with the progress made towards stop spraying in NB, thanks to all the efforts made by our 15,000 members and the 35,000 plus that signed the petition, SSNB feels that all political parties need to step up their efforts to actually put in place a ban on herbicide spraying on public lands. The issue has grown from a non-issue in Provincial politics to being a major election issue but we are still waiting for an actual ban or significant reduction in herbicide use on public lands. The electorate want this to happen but we are only seeing small tangible results occurring. Our fight to stop spraying NB continues.