Monday, June 12, 2006

On pest removal in council chambers…

Arthur Majoor, candidate for Mayor of London in November's municipal election:

Tonight's City Council vote on a pesticide bylaw is a further example of how time and energy is being diverted from core issues which are the true business of municipal government.

Pesticides are regulated by the Federal government, and lobbying efforts to change the use of pesticides are best directed at that level. The science behind the proposed ban is weak or non existent, and even the proponents of the ban admit this. In the mean time, council has proposed a bylaw which is directed against local business and the property rights of London homeowners. Given these factors, council may end up proposing a bylaw which is unlikely to withstand a court challenge, incurring a further expense to the taxpayers of London, and for what?

Council needs to focus on the important issues of municipal government, and not get caught up in wild goose chases. There needs to be leadership willing to apply the common sense test to proposals such as these and say "stop" when the ideas are clearly outside the boundaries. Win or lose, the time and effort spent on this issue is time and effort which could have gone elsewhere.
Mr. Majoor can be reached by email.


bonnie abzug said...

Arthur Majoor says, "The science behind the proposed ban is weak or non existent, and even the proponents of the ban admit this." And, if Arthur Majoor says this, then it must be true.

Myself, I've had several conversations with "proponents of the ban". No-one I've spoken with has said that the science is "non-existent". I can't even remember anyone saying the science is "weak". John Chop-Suey, the paid lobbyist for the pesticide special-interest lobby group, has said that the science is weak or non-existent. But he is not a proponent of the ban. But if Arthur Majoor says this is true, then it must be.

I have heard "proponents of the ban" say that the evidence is not monolithic. With all due deference to Arthur Majoor, "not monolithic" is not the same thing as "weak" or "non-existent". I've even heard "proponents of the ban" say that the evidence is "conflicting". But, again, with all due deference to Arthur Majoor, "conflicting" is not the same thing as "weak" or "non-existent".

I mean, I feel that I should defer to the expertise of Arthur Majoor. As I've said a few times already - if Arthur Majoor says it's true, then it must be true. But the evidence that "proponents of a ban" admit that the science is "weak" or "non-existent" is itself "weak" or "non-existent". And who the hell is Arthur Majoor anyways?

bonnie abzug said...

Arthur Majoor also says, "...council may end up proposing a bylaw which is unlikely to withstand a court challenge". Give me whatever Arthur Majoor is having. Read the papers, man. All the challenges are done. If the Weed Whacker wants to waste several tens of thousands of dollars tilting at this particular windmill again, he'll have to find a Superior Court judge who has been on holidays overseas for the past several months. This has got to be the narrowest interpretation of a "property rights" issue I've ever seen. Friend of John Chop-Suey, are you, Arthur Majoor?

Lisa said...

If Bonnie Abzug says it is so, it must be.

Do you prefer Anne-Marie?

MapMaster said...

To cite one example:

Coun. David Winninger and others gave impassioned arguments supporting a ban. Winninger said the reason there's no scientific proof pesticides pose a health threat is because they may be tested only on animals.

"We don't have all the answers, that's quite clear," Winninger said.

But I agree, you won't find too many ban proponents making the outright admission — passion, bluster and misdirection are the general retorts to any such challenge, which adds about as much to the debate as sarcasm, I might add. But, "the science behind the proposed ban is weak or non existent" — which would have been a more fruitful focus for your attack than the rest of Mr. Majoor's sentence.

I actually do agree with you, Bonnie, that the proposed bylaw would likely withstand a court challenge, given the preposterous ruling by the Supreme Court last year (or was it earlier this year, I can't remember). But, in any case, a court challenge could be easily constructed so that it would not be dismissed out of hand, and that would certainly incur a further expense to London's taxpayers.

All for what? I'll address that in a post tomorrow or Wednesday following the results of council's decision. Stay tuned…

bonnie abzug said...

With all due respect to both Lisa and Mapmaster, and I am not saying this tongue in cheek, my only point was that one shouldn't invent things to support a position taken on the pesticide issue, or any other issue for that matter. As someone who sat through the interminable presentations and debates on this issue, it was quite clear to me that there is "science" on both sides. If Arthur Majoor had said that the direct evidence linking pesticides to dangers to human health was weak, I would not have reacted. Because that statement would have been true. But that's not what Arthur Majoor said.

I can think of several good arguments to support taking a position against the banning of the cosmetic use of pesticides. Claiming that the science is weak or non-existent is not one of them. It robs one of credibility. It makes me think that that person has been co-opted by John Chop-Suey who was, after all, the only person paid for his lobbying on this issue.

And, in answer to Lisa's question, I would say yes - I prefer Anne Marie, given the choices that there are.

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh at Bonnie's answer

"one shouldn't invent things to support a position taken on the pesticide issue"

Seeing as the pesticide free lobbyists have done this from the get go, with misleading science and studies, leading questions and polls.

It's amazing to me that those who are for the ban don't see it as yet another way for the government to take over the decisions in one's life. I don't need the government to hold my hand and tell me what to do, as a grown adult who works, has a family and fully supports myself, I find it simply offensive that City Council, the Mayor and Imagine London seem to think they know what's best for me and my family.

As an aside that has gone unmentioned by me earlier; My son suffers from seasonal allergies, this has been so bad in the past we've rushed to the hospital with a blue child in a full asthma attack. We started spraying our lawns two years ago, totally eliminating all weeds from our property, and we keep the grass extra short, to prevent pollen. Now, our son can play in the yard all day without a problem, if we go to the park just down the street it has to be for less than 15 minutes and most days he's wheezing by the time we return home. We cannot prove that pesticides cause anything, yet I can easily prove how they have been directly beneficial to my son.

bonnie abzug said...

All I really can say to Anonymous is this: when you can figure out a way to enclose your property in an impermeable bubble so that your "property rights" don't trample my "property rights", then I will fully support your right to spray whatever you damn well please whenever you damn well please.

I'm happy that your child can get relief from his allergies. And I mean that. Truly. But spraying chemicals that may very well cause other health issues down the road for your son is not the only way to rid your property of weeds. It's certainly the easiest. I know that you'll agree that the health of your son is worth the additional effort.

Now, I'll accept that perhaps some day we'll receive incontrovertible evidence that the application of pesticides causes no danger to humans or the environment if you'll accept that we may very well receive incontrovertible evidence of a direct link between the bioaccumulation of pesticides in the body and cancers or other health issues. What's more important, Anonymous - your ideology or the health of your son?

Anonymous said...

Bonnie –

Without even a hesitation - I would have to say the most important thing here is the trampling of our rights.

I used the health of my son only as an example of how the chemical 24D has had a direct positive affect on my sons’ asthma. I would not use my son to push through any law, I am totally against any policy that could even be considered as "the good of the few over the good of the many", and we already have lots of those.

No matter what, I will continue to speak out against any government that railroads laws and policies into legislation. I will assert my rights as a Canadian citizen to complain that the government has too much control over the private lives of its citizens.

I need to thank the chemical companies for giving us a fighting chance against West Nile and other possible pests. We would not have these chemicals if it weren’t for the pesticide industry.
I’m sure you remember how we almost banned Deet a few years back; there would be thousands of cases of West Nile instead of a handful.

I figure you better hurry up and figure out how to erect that bubble around your home, as now all council has done is stick the same chemicals into the hands of untrained home owners. In other cities with pesticide bans the chemicals have been flying off the shelves. My MIL in Toronto claims the local Home Depot can't even keep it in stock, they are selling so much. Don't forget our London City Hall approved for larvacides (just another form of pesticide) in solid form to be distributed in the storm sewers, these storm sewers run directly into the river. We still have exemptions for farmers, playing fields (tell me again how much you want to protect kids?) golf courses. My uncles home with four kids in it, backs directly onto a local golf course, it's dangerous for my Uncle to spray his lawn but the chemicals sprayed 10 feet away are OK? I say if the City truly believed that 24D was a dangerous chemical than there would not be exceptions. This bylaw was simply a way to silence the screaming lobbyists and environmental folk; it does nothing for the environment or health of Londoners. What really happened here is that one more right was taken away from Londoners. I will continue to heed caution, as this is a slippery slope we tread.

bonnie abzug said...

I'm flabbergasted, Anonymous. I'm not usually at a loss for words. I'm reminded that a bear knows only one way to go down a hill. Fast, out of control, and in a straight line. Through brush, through saplings.... They make a hell of a racket coming down. Something to do with all of their weight being at the front end. They get to the bottom but they make a hell of a mess getting there. And then, as the bear recovers from the trauma from getting to the bottom, it must say to itself, "What now"?

Anonymous said...

While I respect Bonnie's right to have a different opinion on the validity of the science presented to support the ban, she should consider there are so many exemptions to the bylaw that Londoners will still be exposed to 24D. The only difference is now this will be done by the city without your knowledge or consent, unless you happen to see the actual application.

If this is so dangerous, then a court case could be made to force the city to stop spraying golf courses, for example, which would be a huge revenue hit, and put the city council in the paradoxical position of supporting pesticide use to maintain the property value of city assets.

Property rights do not prevent you from coming to an agreement with your neighbours about the time, place and amount of pesticide application, or even educating them on alternative products or process to control bugs, weeds etc.

Finally, there is the matter of principle to consider. Although I do not use pesticides on my lawn, I never presume to force my neighbours to follow my beliefs.

Arthur Majoor
Candidate for Mayor

bonnie abzug said...

And I respect that. You know as well as I that accepting the exemptions were a necessary part of getting a pesticide bylaw put into place. Is it perfect? No. Does it leave us with significant exposure to these chemicals still. Of course it does. I can't speak for either the London Coalition Against Pesticides or any of the other groups involved in the issue. But, for myself, I will accept risk reduction over inaction anyday.

MapMaster said...

You give up so much for so little. I can respect your right to do that for yourself, as well, but not for everyone else.

Pietr said...

Bonnie, 'not monolithic' simply means 'unproven'.

Honey Pot said...

The chances of Master Art Majoor winning the mayor's seat is about as likely as me winning Ms. Teen Canada. It ain't going to happen folks.

Anonymous said...

Really? He's already got my vote.