Didja ever wonder: How the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) could justify having a staffer travel weekly to and from Guelph to Ottawa for a year (to the tune of over $100,000) to consult on, wait for this, saving money! The excuse rolled out was that he was consulting with several Ottawa staff using ‘secret’ documents that could not be copied nor shared electronically. I remember a wise Deputy Minister who defined ‘secret’ as anything that was not yet on his desk. If it existed on paper (or electronically), others must already be ‘in on it’ and have seen it. Likewise, if several staff worked on this issue for a year, and were sworn to secrecy, why could it not be available to him to use ‘secretly’ from Guelph? Does anyone really believe it was not ‘leaked’ somehow during that year? (In addition to all of this, what could possibly be so secret yet be available for so many to work with daily for a year?)
Didja ever wonder: Why the federal agriculture ministry would close down their only sprayer technology program (in Saskatoon)? In an era where focus on pesticide use, environmental safety, worker protection, and food safety continues to make headlines, how can one justify cutting out a world-class operation? Oh, I think the ministerial answer was that it would allow industry to step up to do the work! Duh!! It was to ensure that what came from the application industry to farmers for their use was indeed functional, operationally safe, and how to optimize its benefits while safe-guarding the operator and the environment. If one assumes that industry will now do this, how does one explain all the changes, modifications and downright dismissal of some equipment that came as a result of the evaluations coming from this program? That equipment was ‘supposed’ to have already been grower-ready! I still recall a twilight meeting where a new (and somewhat naïve) sprayer salesman was demonstrating a new machine to a group of apple growers. He asked some of the growers to get right into the tree canopy and he would spray water from the sprayer to show how much tree penetration it could get. It did do a great job of penetration! However, when we (independent extension staff) were asked by the host grower to examine the machine, not really to our surprise it had been set up with a full set of D-45 swirls and #7 discs! (Much like from the local car-wash!) If used as equipped, it would spray out about 1200 gallons per acre--over three tanks per acre! The growers were so impressed with the performance, they never bought any!
Didja ever wonder: Why there was a recent announcement that all provincial adaptation councils would be dis-banded, and all research and development projects would be evaluated just from Ottawa? Given that the funds are distributed to provinces based on a formula, and that the provincial groups decided what were the most pressing needs, locally, and what work should get the highest (if any) priority for funding, and given the cost for administration for each province came from their allocation, what was the problem? Perhaps the very fact that these councils were hugely efficient, very well connected to the local needs via their memberships, and maybe because they were NOT bending towards any particular political position but rather, addressing grower needs, it was felt that more political control was necessary. Putting it all in Ottawa may not save much in administration costs. It will certainly eliminate the most and best local inputs towards deciding how and where to allocate the provincial shares.
OOPS! I got ahead of myself. Who thinks there will continue to be a hard and fast provincial or even regional allocation? Who thinks there will even be a program? Who even suggested that fair and appropriate funding would be done equitably, and not re-directed to more ‘favourable’ locations and ‘folks’? What can be definitely said is that a highly efficient, fair, and reasonable approach to ensuring allocation of funds in each province will be eliminated. Would it not have made more sense to make GREATER use of them to deliver umpteen other programs? Would it not have made sense to utilize a GOOD delivery system than to scrap it, and keep other ones that are not as transparent, and not as well run? In fact, wouldn’t it have been better to scrap the Ottawa evaluation centre instead? (I guess we all know who was closer to the decision makers!)
Didja ever wonder: Why an opposition member of the Ontario legislature would find it necessary to introduce a private member’s bill to modify the ‘Cosmetic Pesticides Ban’ to at least allow licensed applicators to spray for serious pest issues with some “banned” products? After three years of increasing problems, the public may be fed up, but the house has done nothing to fix their woes! The reports from various sources suggest the three-year supply of ‘the good stuff’ that many stockpiled in their garages has now been used up. The evidence is plain to see! In addition to serious weed infestations, the grub control in lawns is out of control! Plus, there are now some new invasive species of insects that can attack and destroy over 300 species of plants. None of the registered products that may help are available to a homeowner. In addition, there have been some ‘reduced risk’ products registered by Health Canada, but these have also been kept away from homeowners’ use! There ARE some products available, but ‘in the day’ none of these would have a market share, because they do not work well enough, or long enough, or cheaply enough to satisfy many consumers! The private member’s bill did not receive all-party approval, and it died on the floor of the legislature. The intent of the proposed bill was good-- to at least allow commercial applicators to apply the ‘effective stuff’, when warranted. It would be nice to see more education and re-certification for applicators and the public put in place too, but that is another story!
Didja ever wonder: Why the province would allow a municipality (Coleman Township in northeastern Ontario) to pass a by-law using the ‘Health and Safety provision’ under the Municipal Act, to restrict pesticide use? In fact, one of the ‘sorta’ good things about the Cosmetic Ban Act was to eliminate all such existing local by-laws dealing with pesticides. This is a new one. (Makes one wonder who drafted it, what their background is, who they receive funding from, etc.) It not only restricts domestic pesticide use, it requires farmers to report, IN ADVANCE!!, each and every pesticide application they are going to make. This runs in opposition to A) Common sense; B) Good pest management practice; C) The intent of the Cosmetic Ban Act.
Once again we have a ‘runaround’ of having three ministers involved. Isn’t it so easy to shrug and say “It is not my responsibility/problem”? It affects agricultural producers, but pesticides are not the agriculture minister’s responsibility. It affects the environment minister, because it is about pesticides, but, since the by-law comes under the Municipal Act, it is not his responsibility. The minister of Municipal Affairs is directly affected, but because farmers and pesticides are not his problem, there is no problem for him either! Has anyone asked what the municipality is going to DO with these plans, even if they were available? Has anyone there got the level of expertise to review them and even know what they mean? Does Health Canada need such a third (with questionable expertise) level of scrutiny after they have approved the labeled uses for all of Canada? What comes next? Will campers need to fill out paperwork to use DEET? Will the sod-replacement businesses continue to grow? Time will tell.
Didja ever wonder: What else I peruse and gather when keeping up on pesticide issues?
You don’t want to know!!!