This week in the House of Commons MPs debated an Opposition motion to ban microbeads. The Opposition cited health concerns and recent municipal bans on microbeads as reasons to adopt the motion. The Government maintained the need to complete scientific review before taking further action on microbeads.
Mr. François Choquette (Drummond, NDP) pressed the Government to ban microbeads:
Mr. Speaker, 16 communities along the St. Lawrence River are taking action to ban microbeads.
Found in a variety of cosmetics and toothpastes, these plastic microparticles are contaminating the St. Lawrence River. The NDP has shown leadership on the issue by successfully seeking unanimous consent of the House to have microbeads placed on Canada’s list of toxic substances. However, we have heard nothing since then.
What are the Conservatives waiting for before they act on our motion and protect our environment?
Mr. Massimo Pacetti (Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, Ind.) also questioned the Government’s delay in banning microbeads:
Mr. Speaker, the scientific evidence is confirmed. That is why on March 24 the House voted unanimously for the government to take immediate measures to address the environmental menace of microbeads. Since then, no measures have been taken. That is hardly immediate.
The good news is that my private member bill, Bill C-684, has the solution, which is to simply ban the manufacture or importation into Canada of any personal care product containing microbeads.
Would the Minister of Environment do the right thing and ban microbeads, as my bill prescribes, before the end of this parliamentary session?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, CPC) affirmed the need to complete scientific study before taking action:
Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada has initiated a scientific review to assess the effect of microbeads on the environment. This review builds on the work we have done to reduce the risk of harmful chemicals.
Since 2006, we have taken action on more than 2,700 substances under the chemicals management plan, and we are on track to assess 4,300 substances by 2020. We are also putting the issue of microbeads on the agenda of this summer’s meetings of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.