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e-2327 (National defence and military operations)

E-petition
Initiated by Jolene Bigger Hartt from Oromocto, New Brunswick

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

Whereas:
  • People living in Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown and its surrounding communities were victims of the application of pesticides in the area; and
  • An independent public inquiry would help to uncover the answers these people have been seeking in relation to the pesticides on military and civilians in the Oromocto area.
We, the undersigned, Canadian citizens and residents, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to convene a fully independent public inquiry, that will make recommendations, in relation to the application of pesticides at CFB Gagetown and its surrounding communities from the 1950s to the present day.

Response by the Minister of National Defence

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan

National Defence is taking concrete steps to advance whole of Government efforts towards creating a clean environment. With the responsibility to manage more than two million hectares of land, thousands of buildings, jetties, and training areas, National Defence is central to the Government’s commitment to be a responsible steward of the environment. This includes remediating sites formerly impacted by military activities, and proactively mitigating the environmental impacts of its current military activities. 

 

National Defence has conducted extensive research since the 1980s into the use and testing of herbicides, including Agent Orange, to better understand the impact of their use at 5 Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown (CFB Gagetown). This includes detailed investigations in 2005 and 2018 into the disposal of barrels of Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown. Both investigations confirmed that no barrels of Agent Orange have been found.

                                                 

Additionally, in 2005, National Defence, along with Veterans Affairs Canada, Health Canada, and various other departments and agencies, undertook a comprehensive fact-finding investigation to understand the health and environmental risks associated with the past use of registered and unregistered herbicides at CFB Gagetown. This comprehensive investigation included, among other tasks, conducting health risk assessments, tissue sampling of fish and clams from CFB Gagetown to test for dioxin concentrations, and compiling lists of individuals and units present when herbicides were tested in 1966 and 1967. Research for this investigation was conducted by highly-qualified, non-government experts, and was peer-reviewed by independent specialists in the field. 

 

This investigation concluded that, aside from the two instances of testing Agent Orange, Agent Purple, Agent White, and other herbicides by the U.S. military in 1966 and 1967, all herbicides used at CFB Gagetown were regulated and used in accordance with all federal and provincial regulations and scientific policies at the time. 

 

Furthermore, human health risk assessments conducted as a part of the 2005 investigation concluded that most people who lived and worked at or near CFB Gagetown were not at risk of exposure to herbicides. Potential long-term health risks were identified as a possibility only for those individuals directly involved with the application of the herbicides or brush clearings soon after application. As compensation for possible exposure to unregistered U.S. herbicides between 1966 and 1967, in 2007 the Government of Canada provided eligible individuals with a one-time, tax-free ex gratia payment of $20,000.   

 

As part of its vegetation management program, CFB Gagetown continues to use herbicides for the purposes of maintaining visibility of targets, access to roads, protecting against wildland fires, and the clearance of unexploded ordinance. This program is critical to ensuring that training areas remain safe and available for military training and related activities. 

 

National Defence has implemented rigorous controls and regularly reviewed oversight of its vegetation management program. To ensure compliance with the most effective and environmentally responsible practices, National Defence will continue to work closely with relevant authorities, including the New Brunswick Department of Environment and Local Government, the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development, the Canadian Forest Service, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

 

National Defence will continue to be a responsible steward of federal lands by protecting land and complying with environmental practices. Given the extensive research and investigations National Defence has already conducted on the use and testing of herbicides at CFB Gagetown, National Defence does not have any plans to conduct further inquiries at this time.

Open for signature
December 13, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
April 11, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Jenica Atwin (Fredericton)
October 21, 2020 (Petition No. 432-00139)
Government response tabled
December 4, 2020
Photo - Jenica Atwin
Fredericton
Liberal Caucus
New Brunswick
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