P.E.I. Green Party Leader Sharon Labchuk said Tuesday that if elected, her party would enact legislation requiring the province to annually make public all pesticide sales figures, as well as other chemicals linked to learning and behavioural problems in children.
"We would make that information available on a pesticide-by-pesticide level, which in the past wasn’t done," Labchuck said.
"In the past we got broad groupings. We want to see information on every single chemical."
Labchuk also demanded that Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Richard Brown, whom she is challenging for the Charlottetown-Victoria Park riding, release agricultural pesticide sales figures for 2009 and 2010.
Labchuk also said that annual pesticide sales figures on the Island had been public information since 1993. "They were released until Richard Brown became environment minister," she said.
Labchuk accused Brown and the P.E.I. Liberal Party of intentionally keeping the public in the dark.
"This is just more of government's efforts to withhold information from people so they don’t really know what’s going on," she said.
"They can't take action to protect themselves, which includes lobbying government to change pesticide legislation."
The Department of Environment said it doesn't see pesticide sales data as the most meaningful indicator of the impact of pesticides on the environment, pointing instead to ongoing monitoring of groundwater, surface water and fish. That data is available online.
Labchuk countered that the availability of pesticide sales figures is responsible for raising awareness of them as a health and environmental problem.
"A lot of that information is what I used over the last couple of decades to figure out what was going on on Prince Edward Island in terms of our exposure to pests and the amount used, and really that’s what propelled the issue into the public's consciousness."
Labchuck said Islanders have a right to know what toxic substances are released into the environment.
"In many other jurisdictions around the world, governments are required by law to supply that information to the citizens and in P.E.I. they are clearly covering up this information. Taxpayers pay to have that information collected and we have a right to see it," she said.
The Green Party would model the new rules after similar right-to-know legislation in the state of California.