Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dead or Alive

Tabled, prorogued, “dead on paper” – these are terms I have been trying to understand over the last few weeks.  All of these terms have been used to describe Bill M-203 – the “Cosmetic Pesticide” bill before the BC Legislature.  No matter which term is used, they all mean the same thing.  Bill M-203 will very shortly die as a point of procedure in the B.C. legislature.
So is the issue of pesticide legislation in BC dead or alive?  The issue of pesticides in B.C. will not end with the bill “dying on paper.”  The special committee that was struck to study pesticides usage in B.C., as a result of the introduction of Bill M-203, will move forward.  The committee will resume meetings in the next few weeks.  The committee could simply re-introduce Bill M-203.  All indications are they will study the issue, hold public consultations, and look at other legislation from across Canada.  Then, a new pesticide bill will be introduced.   This could happen as early as this falls sitting of the legislator.  Most likely it will occur during the spring 2012 session of the legislature.   

Premier Clark has committed the Liberal party to passing some form of pesticide legislation.  The NDP is in favour of pesticide legislation.  It is rare that the government and opposition agree on an issue.   But they agree on pesticide legislation.  The question is what form it will take and when will new legislation be introduced?
Last Wednesday I had a discussion with Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake, Environment Critic for the NDP in B.C. and a member of the Special committee studying pesticides in B.C.  He was very complimentary of the work that the golf industry in B.C. has done regarding the pesticide issue.  Our message that golf courses and superintendents are environmental stewards and only use pesticides when needed is being heard.  The fact that pesticides are heavily regulated and studied by Health Canada and the plant protectants we apply are used by licensed applicators is resonating with those willing to listen.  Even though the politicians are listening to our message, Mr. Fleming believes that new pesticide legislation will be reintroduced in the spring of 2012.
The question is what turf managers and golf industry professionals should do with this short reprieve regarding the pesticide issue?  Should we wait until new legislation is introduced?  React to it or be proactive?  Lead or follow? 
Our message is powerful.  We are Canada’s most popular sport.  It is not hockey.  Golf is good for the environment and the economy of B.C.  Our golf courses are massive contributors to charities and local community organizations.  Our industry is proactive, responsible, and leaders in environmental protection.  This message needs to be heard by more residence and politicians in B.C.     
The golf industry in B.C. reacted slowly to Bill M-203.  We were not organized.  Our critics defined the issue and defined our industry.  We stumbled.  Now that we have been given more time and we have started to speak up about the pesticide issue, what should we do?
I believe the answer is clear - lead.

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