We wrote the mayor back right away:
Dear Mayor O’Keefe,
Thank you for your letter today.
The Tordon Players are very proud of you and the City of St. John’s for your policies on pesticide use. We are so happy to live in a City where (almost) no poisonous chemicals are being sprayed on public spaces and parks and we applaud you for your forward thinking and advocacy on this issue.
The Tordon Players are working to create images and actions that inspire people to stop and pay attention to the issue of pesticide use in general and the provincial Roadside Spraying Program in particular. At the moment it is our hope that citizens will respond to our images by getting informed and becoming involved in the movement to stop the provincial Roadside Spray Program. None of our images are meant to be taken literally and it is a shame that you have misunderstood our intentions and that you are unsupportive of our work.
You do make fair points in your letter and we are sorry if our photographs have upset you. We would like to clarify, however, just as a matter of fact, that the City of St. John’s does indeed spray pesticides on public parks and on children’s playgrounds when dealing with the issue of wasps – so, these areas are not completely “pesticide-free” as you claim in your letter.
The Tordon Players will take all of your concerns into account and address them with our next action. We thank you for personally taking the time to write to us and again, we sincerely commend you for your stance on Tordon 101 and for the ban on the use of pesticides in the City of St. John’s. We urge you to continue to utilize whatever powers and influence you have as a municipality to end the Provincial Roadside Spray Program.
The Tordon Players
special to the Gazette
by Barry Whiteway
Safe as Salt
The Tordon Players, a pro-Tordon support group, staged a protest last week against the ban of the use of Tordon for cosmetic use within the City. Decked out in protective clothing they appeared in several locations around the City of St. John’s where they performed mock sprayings.
The provincial government is currently spraying the highways of Newfoundland with a banned chemical – Tordon 101 (aka Agent White) – in an effort to curb moose-vehicle accidents.
“DOW chemicals and Minister Hedderson have both said that these chemicals are safe as salt,” a spokesman said on Thursday. “If it is okay for the province to spray Tordon on the roadsides we want to know why we can’t spray our lawns and neighbourhoods. And the roadsides are already blocked with all the salt we put on them, so what is the difference? I don’t understand what the big deal is?”
“I put salt on everything and I’m fit as a fiddle,” another protester added with a chuckle.
Just A Belly Ache
Critics of the current spray program claim that Tordon 101 contains a dangerous combination of chemicals that could pose a health risk to humans. Many point out that even the labelling on the product warns that the chemicals (a mixture of Picloram and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) are “toxic to small mammals, birds, aquatic organisms and non-target terrestrial plants”. The protesters were not concerned,
“So a moose gets a little tummy-ache for a few days, or we lose a couple of pigeons? We want to be able to manicure our lawns in a stress-free way – you spray this stuff once and it kills everything for ten years. It’s super easy and super cost effective and you don’t have to think about it.”
“For me, making my lawn beautiful IS necessary. So I disagree with the Minister when he says that a beautiful lawn isn’t necessary. He doesn’t know what he is talking about – clearly the Minister has never taken care of a lawn!”
Legalize the Pesticide
The players want to see Tordon 101 legalized everywhere. When asked about medical research results linking the herbicide chemicals to cancers, neurological disorders, DNA damage and poisonings the group looks to the government.
“I called the government and someone in the Department of Transportation told me personally that it is safe, he said the chemical is only in the air for about twenty minutes and then it blows away,” said 86 year old Mrs. Patricia Adey, who holds meetings for the Tordon support group in the living room of her small apartment, “if the government says it is safe, then it must be safe.”
Mrs Adey is also busy writing letters and rallying support for her plan to introduce the idea of flowerbed colour scheme regulations into suburban neighbourhoods. “I would like to see these issues as a part of the next platform in the elections. I am hoping that St. John’s Clean and Beautiful will return my calls.”
Take Your Vitamins
The Players meet weekly at Mrs Adey’s house to write letters and plan activities. “We are not sure what we are going to do next but we are thinking of a Youtube video where Sulley here eats a table spoon of Tordon, to prove that it’s perfectly safe. The Department has said that it’s like taking vitamins. We just need to get our hands on some.”
“Time to take your Vitamin T!” exclaims Sulley and the group breaks out in laughter.
“This is serious business,” says Mrs Adey. “but we still like to have a laugh.”