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BC committee crosses Clark on cosmetic pesticide ban

A year ago British Columbia Premier Christy Clark promised a province-wide ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides. But now the government majority on the bi-partisan committee she appointed on the topic has recommended against such a ban.

"The evidence just simply does not support a recommendation to ban pesticides for cosmetic use in British Columbia," said Bill Bennett, who chaired the Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides.

He outlined the arguments the committee heard both for and against such a ban, saying that on balance he didn't hear anything that persuaded him the provincial government should overrule Health Canada and the federal scientists who make decisions about what pesticides can be sold and used in the country.

"The majority of the committee believed the government should base as much of their environmental policy as possible on science," he said. "Since this was a legislative committee and since we were unencumbered by pressures from cabinet and from the premier's office, and since I was lucky enough to have like minded committee members, we made our decisions on our understanding of the science and the process that everyone gets to in terms of their points of view."

A year ago the NDP opposition proposed a law to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides in the province and Environment Critic Rob Fleming, who was deputy chair of the committee, today said an NDP government would put such a ban in place.

When the opposition brought its motion forward, Clark said the government would move ahead with a ban. "I've supported this for years now," she said. "We are going to do it."

Bennett said the committee's work is done and it is up to cabinet to decide what to do next.

Clark is on a trade trip to Japan, Korea and the Philippines and was not immediately available for comment.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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