A tied vote at Sarnia City Council Monday night on the issue of fluoride in the local drinking water supply illustrates just how divided our politicians are on the issue.
In a recorded vote at Monday’s council meeting, councillors Andy Bruziewicz, Bev MacDougall, Jon McEachran and Anne Marie Gillis voted in favour of removing fluoride from the system. Mayor Mike Bradley, Councillors Terry Burrell, Dave Boushy, Jim Foubister and Mayor Mike Bradley voted against the motion to remove fluoride. Councillor Mike Kelch was absent from the meeting.
The Lambton Area Water Supply System board has been asking all its member municipalities for input into the fluoridation of the water supply. While the Sarnia vote was to maintain the system as is, anti-fluoride supports have to be buoyed by the vote. It would seem those with concerns about fluoride are reaching the masses and, more importantly, the decision makers in our community.
The close vote is also reflective of how inadequate the pro-fluoride lobby has been on this issue. There are hundreds of experts and studies out there all proclaiming to know whether fluoride in the water system is good for us or bad. There are studies which show how much fluoride is acceptable and what levels are considered to be too high. The public has been overwhelmed with data from a multitude of sources on this issue.
Credit must go to Councillor Bev MacDougall for asking one of the best questions during the debate. She asked why Health Canada is not studying the long-term effects of fluoride use. Good question. Such a study would go a long way to helping the public, and in turn those in public office, to make a more informed decision on the issue.
With the litany of propaganda out there about the pros and cons of fluoride, it is little wonder the public is confused. Coun. Andy Bruziewicz raised a good point during council’s debate when he said the issue is complicated by all the conflicting data among dental and health professionals. Which experts do we believe?
If the public is to have confidence in its water supply and in the benefits of having fluoride in the water, there must be a better public education campaign in place. But while we are waiting for that campaign to be devised, Health Canada needs to get on the ball and launch a study into the long-term effects of fluoride in the water supply.