Political Panel weighs in on Calgary fluoride debate

To fluoridate or not to fluoridate, that was the question tackled this week by the CBC Calgary News at 6 Political Panel.

City council rejected motion to study whether fluoride should be re-added to Calgary water

Political Panel

6 years ago
Duration 7:26
Members of the CBC Calgary News Political Panel weigh in on the fluoride debate.

To fluoridate or not to fluoridate, that was the question tackled this week by the CBC Calgary News at 6 Political Panel.

City councillors voted against a motion to explore the issue of re-adding fluoride to the Calgary's water supply [council voted to remove it in 2011] instead asking Mayor Naheed Nenshi to write to Alberta Health Services asking them to look at why rates of tooth decay have risen sharply in the province.

Jen Gerson, Alberta correspondent for the National Post, said the issue has been muddied over the years by what she called "conspiracy theories."

"There has been over the last 60 years, numerous conspiracy theories about fluoridation …from the idea that it's this chemical washout from the Manhattan Project the government is trying to whitewash, (and) there was a time people thought Communists were putting fluoride in the water to control our minds. Now a lot of the conversation around fluoride has to do with toxiphobia and chemophobia, fears about toxic backlash and fears about chemicals that are prevalent in our discourse today."

Gerson called fluoridation "one pillar" in a dental health strategy rather than a "silver bullet."

Political strategist Corey Hogan agreed

"I think she's being too polite, this is outrageous," he said.

"To me, this is the ignorance of the left, the way we look at people talking about Global Warming saying the science isn't settled, it's the equivalent. It's ignoring science because your own narrow views make you not want to deal with the realities it puts in front of you."

Fellow political strategist Zain Velji called the issue a "political hot potato," especially with a municipal election coming in 2017.

"I think for councillors who are not backing this, they may well be on side and say 'yes there are poor members of my community that very well could benefit from this,' but they don't know how this issue will map to their electorate base. They don't know if they'll lose supporters, they don't know if they'll gain supporters, so getting the hit now and punting this issue and crossing your fingers it doesn't become an election issue is the real MO of the councillors who are sitting on their hands."

With files from CBC Calgary News at 6