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Pesticide committee appointment worries environmental campaigner

The appointment of East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett to head a committee considering a cosmetic pesticide law is worrisome, says an environmental campaigner.

"I don't take it as a good sign," said Ben West, healthy communities campaigner for the Wilderness Committee. "I wouldn't characterize Bennett as a friend of the environmental movement . . . It doesn't fill me with confidence the government is taking this issue seriously."

The Tyee reported yesterday that Bennett has been appointed to replace Margaret MacDiarmid, the committee's former chair who Premier Christy Clark promoted to cabinet on Sept. 26. The premier's office puts forward committee members from the government side.

Bennett is on record referring to park proponents as "eco-fascists."

"I wonder why he was chosen," said West, noting many communities already have cosmetic pesticide bylaws and that B.C. is overdue to enact a province-wide law. "I'm not overly confident he's going to have environmental concerns front and centre in his mind."

Bennett yesterday told The Tyee that as chair his job will be to make sure the committee gets exposed to as broad a range of information as possible. He said he would be "amazed" if the committee fails to recommend the government act on the file.

Former environment minister Barry Penner was added to the committee. The vice-chair is NDP environment critic Rob Fleming.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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