VANCOUVER – CHALLENGING THE MEDIA
On October 24, 2021, the CBC posted an article, authored by Bethany Lindsay, calling Vancouver "The rotten tooth capital of Canada".
CHALLENGE TO BETHANY LINDSAY FROM THE CHAIR OF FLUORIDE FREE CANADA, DR. BOB DICKSON, MD, CCFP, FCFP
October 31, 2021
I am writing you as the chair of Fluoride-Free Canada, whose mission is to eliminate water fluoridation in Canada based on safety and ethical grounds.
Please consider this a formal request to have a follow-up article to your October 24 CBC story, “As Calgary votes for fluoride, some in B.C. have hope for 'rotten tooth capital of Canada.”
Frankly, we were appalled, for several reasons:
Your headline, sensationalizing a 1976 quote from one fluoridation advocate, is not only woefully outdated, it’s simply false. Province-wide data shows B.C., which has the lowest fluoridation rate in Canada (excluding Yukon), actually has a slightly lower cavity rate in young children than Ontario, which has the highest fluoridation rate.
Your story was completely one-sided, quoting three fluoridation promoters and none that were opposed.
Your story violated several of CBC’s own principles promoting factual information, lack of bias and diversity of opinion.
Your story also completely ignored extensive scientific studies, many led by prominent Canadian scientists, linking fluoridated water with lower IQs in children, along with several other serious health risks.
Could you please answer me directly by this Tuesday, November 2nd, on whether you will produce another story on this issue showing the other side?
RESPONSE FROM CBC'S SHIRAL TOBIN AND
FURTHER CHALLENGE TO JACK NAGLER, CBC OMBUDSMAN
Date: December 16, 2021
To: Jack Nagler, CBC Ombudsperson
cc: Shiral Tobin, Brodie Fenlon
Good day, Mr. Nagler. My name is Robert Dickson, MD, and I’m the Chair of Fluoride-Free Canada, the nationwide organization leading the opposition to artificial water fluoridation.
This is my third communication with CBC staff regarding the CBC’s October 24 story, “As Calgary votes for fluoride, some in B.C. have hope for ‘rotten tooth capital of Canada.’” On Nov. 1st, I had e-mailed Bethany Lindsay, Producer of the story, citing the inaccuracy and bias of the story, and asking for a follow-up that would clear up the misconceptions it created. I received no response from her.
On Nov. 8th, I e-mailed your office, citing these inaccuracies, biases, and contradictions with CBC’s own principles and standards. On Dec. 3rd, I received a response from Shiral Tobin, who disagreed that the article violated your standards. She said if I wasn’t satisfied with her response, I should contact you. I am not satisfied with her response.
I don’t believe it’s necessary to repeat what I’ve already said in my initial complaint. I’ll just concentrate on responding to Ms. Tobin’s comments, beyond noting that neither Ms. Lindsay nor Ms. Tobin responded to my request for a follow-up story giving other major health perspectives on this issue.
MS TOBIN: “The headline is eye-catching but it cites back to a CBC interview from a former medical health officer, which is appropriate to use in the context of this story.”
RESPONSE: The headline is what people often remember the most. In many cases, it may be all they read. The fact that it was made by a former medical health officer isn’t the point – it’s a false statement, as shown by the government statistics we provided, and that’s what completely contradicts your stated journalistic standard of providing “professional judgment based on facts and expertise”. We would hope that any CBC reporter would take a few minutes to check the accuracy of a quote from 1976 before putting it into the headline. Ms. Lindsay did not, and Ms. Tobin is defending this headline. The quote is factually incorrect and it was the most prominent statement in the entire article. Inaccuracy is never “appropriate. This is not responsible journalism.
MS TOBIN: “This is a story about people calling for a change to the status quo, which is why those voices are the focus of the article.”
RESPONSE: Fluoride Free Canada has no quibble with a particular focus. Our complaint is that there is no balance to put the issue itself in focus. In CBC’s own words: “We contribute to informed debate on issues that matter to Canadians by reflecting a diversity of opinion. Our content on all platforms presents a wide range of subject matter and views. On issues of controversy, we ensure that divergent views are reflected respectfully, taking into account their relevance to the debate and how widely held these views are.” I don’t know how much more obvious it could be that there was no diversity of opinion whatsoever in this article. How can this not be a violation of your own standards?
MS TOBIN: “The article offers up additional information and links to back up the claims made by the experts and doctors quoted . . .”
RESPONSE: Well, yes, the article did offer this information, but as stated above, it’s only one from one side.
MS TOBIN: “I am not aware of the studies (on fluoridation lowering IQ) you mention in your letter linking fluoride to intelligence and you do not provide any links. But the one I know of shows correlation, not causation, and even that is not a very strong effect.”
RESPONSE: I think this goes to the crux of CBC’s problem. No, you’re not aware. Ms. Tobin is correct in that I didn’t provide documentation, so let’s address that right now.
In July 2019, the University of Calgary’s O’Brien Institute of Public Health, after an extensive review, published its report on fluoridation saying “In summary, there is some new emerging evidence that fluoride exposure during pregnancy may be harmful to the brain development of children, with important studies having been published subsequent to the review of this evidence by the National Research Council in the U.S. in 2006.”
By way of reference, the U.S. NRC report (p.222) concluded “It is apparent that fluorides have the ability to interfere with the functions of the brain and the body by direct and indirect means.”
In preparing your response to me, I ask two things:
Keep an open mind.
I realize you’re busy, but please take half an hour to read and view the following by world-renowned scientific experts, many of whom are Canadians. (Please note that one of these experts, Dr. Bruce Lanphear, is a professor and scientist at Simon Fraser U. in Vancouver. I would hope that any future articles you do regarding fluoridation, especially in B. C., include reaching out to him for comment.) By doing so, I believe you’ll be surprised to learn that there is NO question that fluoride is toxic to the developing brain and extensive evidence that water fluoridation, at Canadian levels, affects pregnant women, unborn children and infants by lowering IQ and increasing ADHD rates.
Environmental Health News article: “It is Time to Protect Developing Kids’ Brains from Fluoride” (2 minute read)
Dr. Bruce Lanphear: “The Impact of Fluoride on Brain Development” (5 minute video)
Dr. Christine Till: Calgary Rotary Club presentation September 28, 2021 (22 minute video)
I also refer you to two one-pagers on fluoridation’s lack of effectiveness and neurotoxicity – again at levels in Canada’s fluoridated water. They each take about one minute to read.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your response.
Robert Dickson, MD, CCFP, FCFP
Chair, Fluoride Free Canada
To date...no reply.