An American anti-fluoride crusader, backed by about two dozen supporters behind him in the Cornwall council chambers, made his case to influence city council on Monday.

Near the end of his 45-minute appearance, the supporters applauded strongly when Dr. Paul Connett said: “No one will take legal responsibility that fluoride is harmful. You are forcing people on it who don’t want it. The only ethical question (for councillors) to answer, ‘I don’t know enough to force this toxic substance (on the public).'”

This was in response to councillors who admitted to not having enough medical knowledge to examine the studies for and against fluoridation.

Connett, who represents the Fluoride Action Network, has a Ph.D in chemistry and is a former university professor.

Connett fielded questions for about 15 minutes after he was given 30 minutes to make a very detailed presentation, tapping into a raft of studies that he said should make people question the benefits weighed against possible detriments.

He said some of the possible side effects from drinking fluoride-treated water include a lowered IQ, higher incidence of children with ADHD, hyperthyroidism, bone damage and impaired kidney function.

Unfortunately, Connett said, these results have not been properly examined by Health Canada,

He said a recent “dummy” review by Health Canada was stacked with dental experts who are noted pro-fluoride.

Connett claimed that some experts are scared to speak against the fluoride establishment in order to avoid a backlash.

Instead of using data from other countries, Connett said proponents “use a long list of endorsements, to claim fluoridation is safer.”

He said this mentality is a symptom of “when policy is king, science becomes a slave.”

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit endorses fluoridation and medical officer of health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis will be present to speak in favour of fluoride at city council’s April 26 meeting.

“I’d (be) happy to debate (Roumeliotis) . . . after 20 years I’ve yet to have a debate,” said Connett, prompting Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy to quip, “you won’t see that in Cornwall.”

Connett was also critical of the type of fluoride which is added to municipal water systems. (Cornwall’s water has been without fluoride since 2013 when equipment failure forced its stoppage).

“It’s an industrial waste product,” he said describing the source of the fluoride, which is not the same as what pharmaceutical companies use for toothpaste.

Connett offered up that tooth decay can be prevented with better education and that “diet is critical.”

Most city councillors who questioned Connett were diplomatic about his claims, except for Coun. Andre Rivette, who was the sole dissenter when a vote was taken, that needed to be unanimous, to extend Connett’s presentation past 30 minutes (normally, presentations are allowed only 10 minutes, but this rule was suspended for the fluoride debate.)

This sparked a few spectators to murmur in protest, claiming Rivette was in a conflict of interest position because he is a health unit board member.

Rivette blasted Connett for claiming the medical community is practising “genocide” on citizens, which Connett refuted.

“It’s a little insulting,” Rivette said, forcing O’Shaughnessy to intervene.

Rivette then warned council that proposed provincial legislation — later, it was clarified to be a private member’s bill – would make fluoridation mandatory for municipalities.

O’Shaughnessy suggested that this debate at the local level would be futile and that if the province is considering acting, then that would be a better place for a debate.