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The politics of water fluoridation
A clear majority of Calgarians in every ward voted in favour of bringing fluoride back to the city's water supply, but two councillors say it wasn't enough
Calgary city council voted 13-2 Monday in support of returning fluoride to Calgary’s water supply, in line with the wishes of 62% of Calgarians who voted in the Election Day plebiscite.
October’s plebiscite was the seventh time Calgarians have voted on fluoridation since 1957. That’s an average of a fluoride plebiscite every nine years.
According to admin, bringing back fluoride will take somewhere between 18 months and two years, and cost more than $30 million over the infrastructure’s 20-year lifespan.
“We would have been better off voting on the speed limit,” quipped Ward 10 Coun. Andre Chabot, who along with Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean voted against re-introducing fluoride ASAP, arguing the new council isn’t informed enough on the issue.
Chabot pointed out that support for fluoridation in his ward was the lowest in the city at 53%, arguing that was not a large enough majority to warrant his support for “mass-dosing our population.”
But with 8,273 votes in Ward 10, the pro-fluoride side received substantially more support than the 6,414 votes Chabot earned in Calgary’s municipal election..
“I would say probably the people who voted for me were more likely to be on the no side,” Chabot said outside council chambers, calling fluoridation a “moral issue.”
Back in chambers, Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner said we shouldn’t conflate eligible voters with people who will benefit from fluoridation’s impact on their dental health.
“We make the assumption that parents are acting on the best interests of their children, but we also know that we have new Canadians who would benefit from this and they may not be eligible voters,” Penner said.
Juliet Guichon, who was in charge of third-party advertiser Fluoride Yes! during the municipal campaign, applauded the impending end of a “decade of dental decay.”
She cited two studies from 2016 and this year that showed Grade 2 children in Calgary had significant tooth decay compared with those in Edmonton, where fluoride has remained in the water. The decay was especially pronounced this year, among Calgary “children who had never known fluoridation,” Guichon said.
Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, who voted in favour of removing fluoride from the water supply in 2011, now supports its return.
He said his previous opposition to fluoridation was rooted in the fact that it’s a small gesture that doesn’t address the larger issue at hand — the need for universal dental care, which Carra admits is “well outside the scope of municipal governance.”
This is, of course, correct, but doesn’t make a lick of sense as an argument against fluoridation.
“I thought it was a minor issue 10 years ago, I think it’s a minor issue now, but the citizens have spoken,” Carra said.
In other news …
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Karina Gould unveiled $3.8 billion in funding over five years to directly subsidize child care in Alberta.
Kenney whined about a “two-tier federation” because Quebec’s $6 billion child care agreement with the feds came with no strings attached.
“If Alberta already had child care at $8 a day across the province, we would have had an approach similar to Quebec,” Trudeau replied.
Alberta had a limited $25-a-day daycare pilot program under the NDP that the UCP government axed.
In a LinkedIn post, Jean described Joshua Gogo as “a Nigerian economist who lives in Fort McMurray.”
"If he so chooses, Brian Jean can try to make this election about my ethnicity," said Gogo. "I will stay focused on showing people from Fort McMurray to Lac La Biche and everywhere in between that I am here to work for them, and to provide the stable representation our area deserves."
Jean, who said last week that he hopes to challenge Kenney for the UCP leadership, acknowledged the post had an “unacceptable connotation” and deleted it.
Edited by Marino Greco
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