Monthly Archives: October 2010

It’s voting day! And the region

It’s voting day! I’m kinda sad I didn’t get around to posting about amalgamation or the LRT, but neither of those issues are ending today, so there’ll be more time.

This blog endorses Jane Mitchell and Sean Strickland for Regional Council and Ken Seiling for Regional Chair.

I’ve been particularly disappointed about how the campaign has turned around the LRT. The provincial government failed to come through with its promised commitment. The region will have to come up with the remaining $250 million (or thereabouts). Some wag did a back-of-the-envelope calculation and decided that that meant a 9.1% increase in property taxes to proceed.

Except no-one would ever agree to that. I don’t agree with that. I might be okay with a 9% increase in property taxes for myself to fund LRT, because I think it’s that important, but I’m not a senior on a fixed income the majority of whose wealth is tied up in their house.

So that would never happen. But increasing property taxes isn’t the only way a government can pay for things. And we aren’t dealing with a fixed price tag anyway. The plan can adapt.

We don’t know what we’re talking about until regional staff can get back with options. Everything that’s been said about LRT during this election has been useless because we don’t know what we’re dealing with.

It’s all incredibly disappointing.

I’m voting for the people who I think stand the best chance of building the region I most want to live in. Although I’m a bit sad that no-one except Ken Seiling has seriously stood up for the LRT plan they voted for.

Please vote today! Hopefully I’ve been a little bit helpful.

Ward 3 and Fluoridation

Moving on…

The race in Waterloo’s Ward 3 is between incumbent Angela Vieth and last minute challenger Michael Gagnon.

Gagnon is a self-styled “regular guy”. And I have to say, I’m grateful to him for running. Throwing yourself into the political arena is tough. Acclamations are bad for democracy, so I think he has done his community a service by running, and I’m thankful.

However, with no website and not much of a message, he isn’t posing much of a challenge to Vieth. He did submit a response to TriTAG’s candidate survey (wheras Vieth didn’t), but his answers could be expanded upon…

So…

This blog endorses Angela Vieth for Waterloo Ward 3

[Angela Vieth and Fluoride]

I’m not just voting for her by default, either. I’ve met Angela and think she’s done good work for the ward. She’s an environmentalist and I like that. She performed well at the city council meetings I’ve attended. I’m happy to elect her for another term.

One thing that’s raised some eyebrows amongst some friends, however, is her push for a plebiscite on water fluoridation, which is going ahead in this election.

So I’ve had to think about this. All in all, I’ve had relatively few cavities in my life so far. I credit some of that to water fluoridation (Belleville fluoridates) as well as fluoride toothpaste, fluoride rinse treatments in school and fluoride treatments at the dentist.

Thing is, though, there are people who do not want to ingest fluoride in their drinking water. I know some. They are not assuaged by protestations of safety. It’s their body, and they don’t want that in it.

So for me, it comes down to this: do I believe the state is right to make people ingest a chemical?

And I think, under some circumstances, yes, I do. I’m a firm believer in the public health practice of mandatory vaccination, for example. I’m quite happy to be living in a world without small pox or polio. But is the public good of fewer cavities enough to compel us to force people to ingest a chemical they might not want in their bodies?

I don’t think it is.

There are other cheap and effective ways to get fluoride on your teeth. If we want to talk about other public health measures to improve dental health–fluoride treatments in schools, like I had, for example–I’m very much open to that. But I don’t think it should be compulsory.

I have to say, though, I haven’t been impressed with the campaigning on either side. The No (to fluoridation) side uses wild rhetoric about “toxic waste.” The Yes side warns of a dental apocalypse (which, strangely, seems to have skipped over Kitchener, which doesn’t fluoridate) and doesn’t even bother to show up for debates because they say “there is no debate.” I’m sorry, I love scientists and all, but sometimes you have to get down off your high horse and talk to normal people. It’s hard, I know. Because there is a debate. There’s a question put to the people and they need to be informed and they need a framework upon which they can make a decision.

And I think I’ve come to a decision I can live with. I’ll be voting No to fluoridation.

Mayor of Waterloo