Environmental activists give N.B. government failing grade for inaction on herbicide spraying

·3 min read
Caroline Lubbe-D'Arcy, chair of Stop Spraying New Brunswick, says the group has given the provincial government a failing grade for not taking action against the use of glyphosate during the last legislative session. (Shane Fowler/CBC - image credit)
Caroline Lubbe-D'Arcy, chair of Stop Spraying New Brunswick, says the group has given the provincial government a failing grade for not taking action against the use of glyphosate during the last legislative session. (Shane Fowler/CBC - image credit)

A group of environmental activists has given the New Brunswick government a failing grade for its inaction on the use of herbicides on Crown land.

Stop Spraying New Brunswick released its annual report card on Friday rating the efforts by each party to stop or reduce the use of herbicides — namely glyphosate — during the 2021-22 legislative session.

Premier Blaine Higgs's Progressive Conservative government received an F in the report card, particularly for not acting on any recommendations presented last November by a legislative committee that examined the issue, said Caroline Lubbe-D'Arcy, chair of Stop Spraying New Brunswick.

Lubbe-D'Arcy suggested the lack of action was especially remarkable because Enviroment Minister Gary Crossman and Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland both sit on the committee.

"We basically have had no word from the government of New Brunswick about these recommendations that were submitted on Nov. 2 of last year by the committee, even though the Ministers of Environment and Natural Resources are  on the committee and they all unanimously voted for those recommendations."

Last November, the legislative standing committee on climate change and environmental stewardship issued a report making 20 recommendations for the government to limit the use of herbicide spraying.

The recommendations included doubling the spraying setback from dwellings to one kilometre, requiring spraying setbacks of 100 metres from protected areas, water and wetlands, and banning pesticide spraying outright in protected watersheds, and for N.B. Power to phase out the use of herbicides altogether.

CBC
CBC

The report came after public hearings on pesticide and herbicide use in New Brunswick.

The presentations to the committee and the resulting report focused almost exclusively on the controversial herbicide glyphosate.

"We were, of course, thinking if they filed this report on Nov. 2, and they've got the two ministers in the committee agreeing that these are great ideas, we definitely hoped very much that these would be implemented before this spray season," Lubbe-D'Arcy said.

"And at least the low-hanging fruit of N.B. Power, because it says clearly in one of the recommendations that N.B. Power needs to cease their spray program right away."

Glyphosate, used mainly by the forestry and agriculture sectors to control weeds and other vegetation, has been the subject of several lawsuits that allege it is a health risk.

Health Canada has stood by the scientific evidence it used to approve the continued use of glyphosate in weed killers, and said it has been found unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans.

CBC News has asked the province about its plan to implement the recommendations the committee made last November but has not had a response yet.

Marc Belliveau, a spokesperson for N.B. Power, said in an email that the Crown utility no longer uses glyphosate in its vegetation program but will still use other herbicides.

According to information on the company's website, it has received approval from the Department of Environment to apply herbicide products on approximately 1,000 hectares of transmission rights-of-way over the summer.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting