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Federal Court requires Canada to review 350+ pesticide products banned in Europe

May 24, 2016

MONTREAL, MAY 20, 2016 — The Federal Court issued a ruling yesterday that will force the Canadian government to conduct a special review of any pesticide that European countries have banned for health and environmental impacts, including more than 350 pesticide products that are banned in Europe and still used in Canada.

"We are pleased that the Court upheld the federal government's legal responsibility to review pesticides that have been shown to harm human health and the environment," said Équiterre executive director Sidney Ribaux. "It's time to give Canadians the same protections found in Europe."

The Federal Court decision is in response to a lawsuit filed in 2013 by environmental groups Équiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation. The groups had argued that the federal government must review the approval of hundreds of pesticide products containing 23 active ingredients already banned from use in European countries.

The Court agreed with the groups' argument that the federal health minister and Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) had violated the Pest Control Products Act by failing to conduct special reviews of pesticides that had been banned by member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for environmental or health reasons.

Among the pesticide products that will have to be reviewed are those containing atrazine. Atrazine has been banned in Europe since 2004 but is commonly used on corn crops in Canada. It is one of the most frequently detected herbicides in Canadian surface water and groundwater and has been linked to reduced fertility in humans. The Federal Court decision requires Health Canada reviews the health and environmental impacts posed by atrazine products.

"This court decision is a wake-up call for the Canadian government," said David Suzuki Foundation director-general Jay Ritchlin. "Canada needs to get serious about banning the hundreds of pesticides that have been shown to be harmful yet continue to be used in our homes, yards, fields and forests."

For more information, please contact:

Nadine Bachand, Équiterre, 514.213.3287
Jay Ritchlin, David Suzuki Foundation +1 (604) 961-6840

David Suzuki Foundation statement: Federal government must reject NEB's approval of Trans Mountain pipeline project

May 19, 2016

The National Energy Board's decision to support Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline project flies in the face of mounting opposition from communities throughout B.C., 17 First Nations, the Province of B.C. and 20 municipalities representing over two million people. The NEB today recommended approval of the pipeline-twinning project, as long as 157 conditions are met, including 49 environmental conditions.

The David Suzuki Foundation opposes all fossil fuel infrastructure expansion, including this pipeline, which would bring bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to B.C. for export. Expanding fossil fuel development and infrastructure is inconsistent with efforts to prevent a 2 C increase in global average temperature, as committed to in the Paris Agreement.

"Moving ahead with fossil fuel infrastructure won't help us avoid dangerous climate change and is not economically viable as we build a clean energy economy," said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce.

In addition to climate concerns, the NEB conditions don't sufficiently deal with risks to coastal ecosystems. "This report doesn't address concerns raised by British Columbians and their governments about the adequacy of oil spill response and the potential environmental and economic harm to communities and precious coastal ecosystems and wildlife," said David Suzuki Foundation Western Canada director-general Jay Ritchlin.

The NEB decision and a Climate Change Canada assessment of the project's upstream greenhouse gas emissions, due May 20, are the first of several processes — including public hearings and government-to-government consultations with First Nations — before the federal government decides in December whether or not the project should go ahead.

"We hope feedback from Canadians before a new environmental committee will convince the federal government to reject this proposal," Ritchlin said. "We don't believe British Columbians will let the Government of Canada force a pipeline and tanker traffic where they aren't wanted."

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Media contacts:

Jay Ritchlin, Director-General, Western Canada, David Suzuki Foundation
Phone: 604-961-6840

Ian Bruce, Director of Science and Policy, David Suzuki Foundation
604-306-5095

Ontario's new cap-and-trade legislation is a major step for climate

May 18, 2016

Law entrenches polluter-pay principle and will generate billions for environmental protection

TORONTO — Ontario's Climate Change Mitigation and Low-Carbon Economy Act will make an important contribution to greenhouse gas reduction, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.

David Suzuki Foundation statement on Fort McMurray wildfires

May 6, 2016

Background

  • During the first week of May, in addition to Alberta, wildfires have raged through Saskatchewan, B.C. and New Brunswick, with Manitoba on high alert.
  • B.C. has been unable to send firefighters to help because they're already fighting numerous blazes throughout that province.
  • Fires in the boreal forest are not unusual. But temperatures as high as 33 C this early in the year are. The average early May high temperature in Fort McMurray is 16 C.
  • Alberta had twice as many fires last year as its 25-year average, and fire seasons there and throughout many parts of the world are getting longer every year, with fires consuming greater areas.

Quotes from Peter Robinson, CEO

"Like many Canadians, we at the David Suzuki Foundation are following the wildfires in the Fort McMurray area with deep concern and sympathy for those who live there."

"The courage, kindness and community spirit of the people of the area have been profound — especially the tireless work of firefighters and rescue workers, as well as local First Nations and businesses that stepped up to offer shelter."

"For decades, climate scientists have predicted that global warming would cause extreme weather events like flooding and wildfires to increase in frequency and severity. We are all affected by these occurrences, no matter where we live."

"We have a collective responsibility to ensure measures are in place to protect people from wildfires and other disasters and make sure people are aware of ways to prevent fires."

"It's also important for governments, industry and citizens to live up to the commitments of the 2015 Paris climate agreement and reduce the causes of extreme weather and its consequences."

"For now, we should all do what we can to support the hard-working people of the Fort McMurray area as they deal with the devastation of this fire and as they rebuild in the future. One way to help is to donate to the Red Cross. The federal government has committed to matching donations from Canadians."

END

Media Contact:

Alvin Singh
Communications Manager
604-250-2651
asingh@davidsuzuki.org

Bloor bike lane will help clear air, protect climate

May 6, 2016

Toronto — The David Suzuki Foundation applauds city council's 38-3 decision to create a bicycle lane along Bloor Street, saying the cycling infrastructure is a winner for human health and the environment.

The new separated bike lane, which will extend from Shaw Street to Avenue Road, will promote physical fitness, encourage people to spend more time outside and reduce traffic congestion. It will also help to improve air quality as some Torontonians leave their cars at home and travel to work or school by bike.

"Increased cycling offers so many benefits that it's amazing this bike lane wasn't built decades ago," said David Suzuki Foundation transportation policy analyst Gideon Forman. "When we help folks reduce their car use, we cut smog, and that can be a life-saver. Toronto Public Health found traffic pollution is responsible for about 280 deaths in the city every year."

Transportation is the largest producer of greenhouse gases in the province, so the bike lane will also help Toronto meet its climate goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

"Research done by Transportation Alternatives in the U.S. found that if just five per cent of New Yorkers who currently commute by car or taxi switched to cycling, it would save 150 million pounds of carbon dioxide a year," Forman said. "If the bike lane encourages even a small shift toward cycling, it can make an important contribution to climate protection."

The David Suzuki Foundation has pushed for a Bloor bike lane since October 2015. Over the course of a seven-month campaign, Foundation staff held meetings with city councillors, wrote pro-bike-lane opinion articles and urged thousands of citizens to contact their elected representatives at city hall. They also helped to get more than 11,000 people to sign Cycle Toronto's "Bloor loves Bikes" pledge.

"The campaign was a wonderful collaboration with local cycling organizations, said David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director Ian Bruce. "It was mutually beneficial. They taught us a lot about the dynamics of cycling in Toronto, and we used our enormous outreach capacity to amplify their messages."

The Foundation will continue to explore opportunities to build active-transport infrastructure across Canada.

For further information:
Gideon Forman, Climate Change and Transportation Policy Analyst: (416) 348-9885, ext 1575