Letter to the editor 1, Feb. 27, 2020

Open letter to Hudsonites

I would like to start by saying that Hudson and its citizens should be very proud to have pioneered pesticide controls to protect our environment and citizens.

At the February 2020 Hudson council meeting, JJ Corker asked in the first question period if the town had received the annual report on pesticide usage as required by By-Law 270, paragraph 5. The answer was no, and part of the reasoning given was as follows: the provincial government did not want to share the reports submitted on pesticides usage on the Hudson territory and that the town, after being given that response, was not going to further pursue their quest for those reports. Comments were also made that the provincial law has change since the last provincial election and that provincial law trumps municipal by-law.

I do not think the Town of Hudson council is correct in that conclusion. The By-Law 270 was challenged at the Supreme Court of Canada in the case 114957 Canada Ltée (Spraytech, société d’arrosage) v. Hudson, in 2001.

In their judgement, a panel of seven judges confirmed the following, “The town had the statutory authority to enact the by-law,” and this, “By-law was not rendered inoperative because of conflict with federal or provincial legislation.”

The Supreme Court of Canada was asked two questions:

  • “Did the town have the statutory authority to enact By-law 270?”

  • “Even if the town had authority to enact it, was By-law 270 rendered inoperative because of a conflict with federal or provincial legislation?”

The Supreme Court said yes to the first question and no to the second, confirming that By-law 270 was legal.

The question of whether By-law 270 was in conflict with provincial or federal laws was clearly addressed and the answer was clearly no. In the Supreme Court judgment (doc #4) at page 270, paragraph 37, you can read, “The municipality retains its authority as long as there is no conflict with provincial legislation. It may be more demanding than the province, but not less so.”

In the same document #4, you will find an interesting analogy in the paragraph 34, page 269: “Federal legislation relating to pesticides extends to the regulation and authorization of their import, export, sale, manufacture, registration, packaging and labelling. The Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) regulates which pesticides can be registered for manufacture and/or use in Canada. This legislation is permissive, rather than exhaustive, and there is no operational conflict with By-law 270. No one is placed in an impossible situation by the legal imperative of complying with both regulatory regimes. Analogies to the motor vehicles or cigarettes that have been approved federally, but the use of which can nevertheless be restricted municipally, well illustrate this conclusion. There is moreover, no concern in this case that the application of By-law 270 displaces or frustrates, ‘the legislative purpose of Parliament’.”

By-law 270 gives the municipality of Hudson the power to directly ask pesticide permit and certificate holders to provide directly to the Town of Hudson a yearly usage of pesticides and inventory.

Councillor Jim Duff stated in the same February, 2020 council meeting that the provincial law on pesticides had changed regarding golf courses. I would like to know specifically in what article that law is found. We are back at the question about conflict among the By-law 270 and provincial and federal legislation. And to be clear, it is not because there is a conflict that it voids the full by-law, and this is according to the Canadian Supreme court.

And to back my point, a new judgement has been rendered on January 19, 2020, where the Québec Superior court did confirm to the Municipalité de la Paroisse de Sainte-Anne-des-Lacs against 170304 Canada Inc. (Weed Man), that their by-law which prohibited the usage of pesticides and fertilizers is valid and enforceable.

The Superior Court of Quebec judge had to answer the same questions that were addressed when the By-law 270 was challenged by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001. The questions were as follows: 1. Does the municipality have the authority to enact that By-law? and 2. Is the said by-law in conflict with federal and provincial law which will potentially (in part or in total) render the by-law inoperative?

The Supreme Court of Canada reasoning in the 2001 Spraytech decision is still valid today and is actually central to the 2020 Superior Court decision. Consequently, it is clear from the 2020 decision that nothing in the provincial or federal laws on pesticides has changed since 2001 that prevents the Town of Hudson from applying its By-law 270. Taking the opposite position is intellectual dishonestly.

We cannot allow Hudson to let By-law 270 degrade. We fought so hard for this, and it is a true medal of honour that we are the first in Canada to succeed in implementing such a by-law. We cannot lose this – we have to fight for this. Dr. June Irwin’s memory deserves this, as do all citizens.

In conclusion, all we have to do is send a notice to all permit and certificate pesticide holders requesting their annual pesticide report as described in By-law 270.

Please see this letter at www.yourlocaljournal.ca for links to further reading. There needs to be a complete and proper conclusion to this issue.

Benoît Blais

Hudson

1. Pesticides act: http://legisquebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/pdf/cs/P-9.3.pdf

2. Pesticides Management Code : http://legisquebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/pdf/cr/P-9.3,%20R.%201.pdf

3. Regulation respecting permits and certificates for the sale and use of pesticides: http://legisquebec.gouv.qc.ca/en/pdf/cr/P-9.3,%20R.%202.pdf

4. Supreme court judgement : https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/1878/1/document.do

5. Superior court judgement : http://citoyens.soquij.qc.ca/php/decision.php?ID=534D7C33CB45435AC4CDB69D467DAE83&captchaToken=03AERD8XrgIClqDUSleWsPzp5saL5yzkHG9QEgyfq7hHeEgJeHePFbIGw1WYlnHJ1QoYfI3kcBqEjilbr4Drkk1CfHIdWGw56SWPdFV7xizd-wJlG4OP3Wt4Ai-xGeQD3a9ZYUmMq3Hy2qpfQOkmfiBZRgULFzltIsTUbRHoq3Ib6qYw5Lgn1aSmKGDwZY9W1CqMvjNmLEEXDBE08wz4SXwIAg1SyeYAQLoGVlChMLxAPFkdN8pftfPEJtjzeBK2VKdydbflRKW9_mPK9X7vZRT89Jm5yBKIM-yMvXCDB0Ks3pw34rCMVI2-t0v6CycVGzqZz2f2MlUkGJn-nfzOf8F11ETvbvl8Cm3ly2bBt1PukIBHGHwck3KSWyskTscqKnP0QdPXY-hcX_E8PwVnoCRmUHq-S6nIxMTw

6. CBC reporting the case: https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1528973/pesticides-sainte-anne-des-lacs-victoire-justice-multinationale

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