Aldermen ready to pull plug on fluoride

Calgary Sun | February 6, 2011
By Michael Wood

Half of Calgary’s aldermen say support for a fluoride-treated water supply has dried up and its fate shouldn’t be decided in a public vote.

Ald. John Mar, along with several other council members polled by the Sun ahead of Monday’s meeting where fluoride will be debated, are ready to pull the plug on Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s suggestion the matter might be better left in the hands of Calgarians through a plebiscite.

“I think water fluoridation has seen its day,” said Ald. John Mar, one of several staunch supporters of a city committee’s recommendation to flush fluoride once and for all.

Ald. Jim Stevenson, another staunch opponent of water fluoridation, said a plebiscite leaves the fate of all in the hands of a few.

“I don’t think 53% of the 30% who vote should be able to force a medication on a 100% of the people of the city,” he said.

“It’s not the right way to decide mass medication.”

His words were echoed by aldermen Brian Pincott, Shane Keating and Gian-Carlo Carra, Druh Farrell and Andre Chabot.

Chabot said he fails to see the value a pricey plebiscite would bring to the discussion, which was recently addressed during a day-long public forum.

“It comes down to me, for fluoride, a moral issue — something that touches everyone,” he said.

“If everyone is not in agreement, it should not be forced on the population.”

The debate over water fluoridation has raged for years with staunch supporters on both sides.

Nenshi, who suggested a plebiscite may be the way to go when he met with the Sun’s editorial board, said he would prefer to engage the public on an issue over which many people have raised serious ethical concerns despite being backed by health officials and Alberta Health Services as a way to curb tooth decay.

Ald. Gord Lowe was one of the few aldermen contacted Sunday who agreed with the mayor.

“It came in with a plebiscite, it should go out with a plebiscite,” he said.

Aldermen Dale Hodges and Ray Jones also said they would vote in favour of such a motion if raised.

At least two aldermen, Gael MacLeod and Peter Demong, were undecided on how they would vote if presented with a plebiscite option.

Calgarians have been drinking fluoridated water since it was first brought in by plebiscite in 1989, a decision upheld by a second public vote in 1998.