Calgary weed bylaw follies

It was a close call, but Calgary city council narrowly avoided a rare encounter with common sense.

It was a close call, but Calgary city council narrowly avoided a rare encounter with common sense. The city alderpeople used that old political saviour, procrastination, to dodge a decision on the tiresome lawn herbicide ban issue so beloved by busybody green groups. The decision to shelve the pesticide restriction bylaw was done by a curious coalition of enlightened aldermen who saw through the bogus nature of a ban, and angst ridden politically-correct aldermen who feel a complete ban is the only answer to a health apocalypse.

Green groups claimed that a complete pesticide ban was favoured by most alderpeople during the last election, and they now feel betrayed that some of them have come to their senses after applying some realism to the issue. The usual threats were made that it will again become an election issue and backsliding aldermen be forewarned. Yeah right, I suggest that there are many more weary voters more concerned with the City of Calgary snow-clearing debacle than those losing sleep about killing dandelions and bugs. I expect any Calgary city council candidate that might have the slightest idea how to resolve the snow clearing mess would win in a landslide over some contrived green issue of the day.

It gets sillier of course, there was even a suggestion that the city spend $500,000 on educating dumb taxpayers on the virtues of restricting their use of pesticides. That of course comes with the ludicrous presumption that a majority of urban citizens actually use pesticides – which is a complete fallacy. Gee wouldn’t that half a million bucks come in handy to deal with real problems that effect every citizen of Calgary like say more snow clearing services. Funny how that escapes city bureaucrats who came up with that hare-brained idea.

Having said all that, the guts of the proposed pesticide restriction bylaw would indeed have been the common sense approach to the topic. If we are going to have some restrictions it makes sense to apply enforceable regulations that take into the reality that we are dealing with products that have been approved safe by scientific authorities for the past 50 years. Dumb suggestions by certain Calgary alderpeople that pesticides are overused by citizens and therefore must be controlled has to be the height of political bull fudge. How would anyone even know that – is there a secret weed police that has been testing the lawns of every suspected dandelion murderer.

I suggest that the decision by major chain store distributors to discontinue the sale of lawn herbicide products will do more to reduce pesticide use than any city bylaw.

The Calgary bylaw also proposes that pesticide use be restricted to professional application companies, that makes sense, you can rest assured they are not going to spend a single cent more than they have to when applying the correct amounts.

In a perverse way, green groups and their political supporters should also be relieved the bylaw was shelved. It gives them the opportunity to continue milking the issue for their own ends. With so many green lobby groups competing for donation dollars, they need any issue that will keep them in the media spotlight. The deadliest consequences of any successful green campaign is the loss of donor/voter interest. Just imagine if a complete pesticide ban had been achieved, Calgary city aldermen might have to deal with real issues like snow clearing – something that can actually affect the health and well-being of every city citizen.

What has been shameful in the pesticide campaign has been the involvement of the Canadian Cancer Society. It may help their fund-raising efforts, but they do themselves no favour by supporting a presumption of guilt.

Sure you can draw an alleged connection between pesticides and cancer, but you can do that with car exhaust fumes, household cleaning chemicals and even mother’s milk for that matter. No one seems to want to draw those alleged lines.

I would dare the Society to carry out a scientific study of communities that have had a long time pesticide ban to ascertain whether it actually results in fewer cancer cases. I suggest they and green groups would avoid such honesty.