Fifty or so people gathered at Bannerman Park on Saturday as part of a provincial day of action against the use of Tordon 101.
Tordon 101 is a pesticide used in the provincial government’s roadside spraying program and also for 1,100 kilometres of the transmission link in the Muskrat Falls project. The herbicide used to kill roadside vegetation is banned from personal use in this province and has been banned altogether in other places.
The gathering at Bannerman Park was one of several taking place across the province to raise awareness about the use and potential hazards of the chemical and also to fuel a signature drive calling for its use to be banned altogether in this province.
John Parsons, a board member of the Social Justice Co-operative of Newfoundland and Labrador, was one of the people who spoke to the crowd.
He told The Telegram afterwards that the goal is to collect 15,000 signatures provincewide.
“It’s an ambitious number but we’ve already got, I would say, 1,000 today from the various people who have been out,” Parsons said. “It’s a doable goal and we think something that will be harder for the government to ignore.”
Paula Graham was at the gathering with her dog, Jerry Garcia. Graham had a “Danger — Poison” sign on her dog’s collar to help bring Jerry Garcia into the campaign to ban Tordon 101. Graham is also a member of the Social Justice Co-operative but had shown up to join the signature drive.
“I don’t know why we’re using chemicals when there’s obviously alternatives,” Graham said.
Graham added the deeper issue for her is how the government is still making the decision to use the chemical.
“What decision-making process is happening such that they’ve decided to use this Tordon 101 instead some other alternative?” she asked.
The chemical isn’t banned by Health Canada, but that hardly makes it safe, Parsons said.
“Government keeps relying on what Health Canada says. Even though this very chemical is one on the very top of the list for review by Health Canada, and even though Health Canada does say there are concerns with this chemical, our (provincial) government has continued to rely on their approval of this stuff to use it,” he said.
The NDP’s George Murphy recently called for government to end its use of Tordon 101.