Fluoride Action Network

Calgary: Fluoride debate may go to plebiscite, again

Source: Calgary Herald | February 7th, 2011 | By Richard Cuthbertson

As city council prepares to debate the fluoride issue today, the chief medical officer for Calgary is urging aldermen to send it to an expert panel before making any decisions.

Many on council have said they oppose fluoride being added to Calgary’s drinking water. In fact, late last month, a city committee recommended the practice end.

But Alberta Health Services wants the additive to remain in city water, arguing evidence shows it does help prevent tooth decay and it is safe.

Dr. Richard Musto, with the provincial health authority, is advocating the issue go to an advisory panel spearheaded by the University of Calgary, which could review the research on fluoride.

After that, there’s the option of sending the issue to plebiscite, something that was done back in 1989 when Calgarians voted to add fluoride to the water.

“If they do send it to plebiscite, it remains still a difficult topic to help people understand really what the issues are,” Musto said Sunday. “Certainly, I’d rather go through that than have it removed.”

Opponents of fluoride argue there is no evidence it does any good, it is unsafe and unethical. Some on council have said they oppose further study and want to head straight to a vote.

But the chair of the city committee that heard from the public said even though his mind is largely made up on the issue, it is still worth having it reviewed by this expert panel.

Ald. Ray Jones is opposed to fluoride being added to the water and admits that no matter what council decides, there will be people who are upset.

He believes all avenues should be exhausted on an issue like this before a decision is made.

“We’re truly in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t, because it’s such a close vote,” he said. “If you take it out, you’re going to get the people who want it in mad. If you leave it in, you’re going to get people who want it out mad.”

Council is due to decide what should happen today. There is a chance, however, the issue could be tabled to a later date, given that council’s agenda is very full.

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