November 2011 edition

Re: Letters, Oct 2011

Dr Kendall appears to miss some important parts of the WHO/IARC news release. Part of the reason radio frequencies were classified as a group 2b carcinogen is their association with some very serious benign tumours. The Lancet article he refers to also states “The Working Group also reviewed many studies with endpoints relevant to mechanisms of carcinogenesis, including genotoxicity, effects on immune function, gene and protein expression, cell signalling, oxidative stress, and apoptosis. Studies of the possible effects of RF-EMF on the blood-brain barrier and on a variety of effects in the brain were also considered.”

Dr Kendall does not acknowledge that virtually all the research reports state the health effects generally take 10 years before their negative effects are noticed. One should also be aware that the studies defined high cell phone use as half an hour a day. 

There is a large amount of competent evidence that the radio frequencies can cause harm to human health. It is foolish to not delay the installation of smart meters until we can be assured there are no health consequences. [There are also] various security, privacy and safety concerns.

Norm Ryder


When discussing the International Agency for Research on Cancer investigation into EMF health effects, Dr Kendall quotes the IARC press release when he writes, “that ‘chance, bias, or confounding could not be ruled out with reasonable confidence’ for the few positive associations reported in the literature.”

It is of extreme concern when our provincial health officer cites a press release on matters of medical opinion. Notably, the article published in the Lancet Oncology, unlike a press release aimed at influencing public opinion, is subject to peer review by medical professionals, and does not include this or any similar broad-swathed dismissal of all the evidence.

Dr Kendall further writes that the IARC study is “explicit in stating that the findings are susceptible to recall bias and participant selection bias—and that this could not be ruled out...”

That is incorrect. There is only one reference to “recall error” and, with my emphasis in italics, the study states: “Although both the INTERPHONE study and the Swedish pooled analysis are susceptible to bias—due to recall error and selection for participation—the Working Group concluded that the findings could not be dismissed as reflecting bias alone...”

Another finding not mentioned by Dr Kendall: In animals, “Four of six co-carcinogenesis studies showed increased cancer incidence after exposure to RF-EMF in combination with a known carcinogen...” Obviously, this is particularly concerning in the context of our environment already polluted with carcinogens.

In my September article, I never suggested “panic.” However, I would suggest that a provincial health officer should let the public decide how they “feel” about the facts, while he should be focusing more on providing scientific accuracy in his public summations of health issues than on anything else.

Rob Wipond


In the October edition a letter was published in which I advised that each smart meter contained 1000 mg of mercury. This statement was based on information provided by Environment Canada. Since writing it, ITRON has notified us that electric meters made since 2002 do not contain mercury. If we can assume that all meters being installed were made after 2002, then according to ITRON they would be mercury free.

But I would also like to address Dr Kendall’s letter in which he defends his stance regarding the World Health Organization’s Panel, International Agency on Research on Cancer, IARC. He has said many times that he does not believe that radiofrequency radiation from smart meters is dangerous, despite IARC’s decision in May 2011 to classify it as a 2b, possible, carcinogen. Instead of advising the public that there is concern, that this is the same classification as DDT, lead, HIV, and industrial chemicals, he repeatedly has said that it is like coffee or pickled vegetables. Why hasn’t he said that excessive coffee has been linked to bladder cancer, and that a pickling agent used in Asia has been linked to cancer? IARC has classified only about 200 agents in the world as 2b carcinogens, and never has one so classified later been found to be safe.

Cancer is not the only health effect associated with RF radiation. But Dr Kendall doesn’t acknowledge this, either. Health Canada’s own Royal Panel, in its 1999 report, confirmed that studies show prolonged exposure has been linked to blood-brain barrier leakage, DNA damage, cell excitation, and many other health issues.

Why, when there are peer-reviewed studies going back for decades that show serious and consistent health effects from prolonged exposure to radiofrequency radiation like that emitted by wireless devices such as WiFi, cell phones and smart meters, does Dr Kendall say none exists? Even if the mechanisms are not fully understood, the precautionary principle should apply.

Sharon Noble, Director, Coalition to Stop Smart Meters


Aside from the insane cost of the wireless “smart meters” that BC Hydro is replacing our present, well-functioning electric meters with, the negative health impact from the radiation (EMF) emitted by these meters scares the hell out of me.

Here’s why: Olle Johansson, associate professor, head of the Experimental Dermatology Unit, Department of Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute (famous for its Nobel Prize in Physiology) is a world-leading authority in the field of EMF radiation and health effects. He is also a professor in basic and clinical neuroscience at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

Here’s what he says about the radiation emitted by smart meters: “These wireless systems are never off, and the exposure is not voluntary. The smart meters are being forced on citizens everywhere. Based on this, the inauguration of smart meters with involuntary exposure of millions to billions of human beings to pulsed microwave radiation should immediately be prohibited.”

Mary Lowther


Re: Proposed LRT rings alarm bells, Sept 2011

I was disappointed to read Leslie Campbell’s article regarding BC Transit’s recommendation for light rail transit as the preferred transit technology investment for our region’s future transportation challenges. 

Along with other politicians and the Chamber of Commerce, I have said an investment as significant and promising as LRT requires additional independent examination of its business case. 

A well-planned, fully costed LRT deserves our serious consideration for moving people, goods and services away from costly and worsening patterns of gridlock towards strong public transit alternatives. The responsible way to proceed is to obtain additional independent analysis of LRT’s costs and benefits. That requires the federal and provincial governments to indicate their support for doing so.

The Capital region’s interest in LRT doesn’t come out of nowhere. It is informed by decades of community and expert planning in our regional growth strategy (2003) and the regional district’s transportation plan (2005). This region took steps in the 1990s to acquire the corridor’s rapid transit right-of-way.

The debate that small and large cities in Canada and around the world are having is about how to positively link inevitable urban growth with enhanced economic prosperity that is green and sustainable. That’s the debate we should be having in Victoria.

Rob Fleming, MLA, Victoria-Swan Lake


The letter from Louis Guilbault (October 2011) in response to Leslie Campbell’s article regarding LRT is an example of using misleading information to support a personal point of view. His suggestion that Victoria’s population, when deciding if an LRT system is needed, is a “non-issue” is very naïve. Although Victoria’s population was very low in 1890 when the first tram lines were laid down, you need to remember that there were no cars or buses then. Horse-and-buggy was the means of mass transportation at the time, so of course a tram looked very attractive. As the decades passed, and more and more people owned automobiles, the tram lines slowly disappeared.

To support his suggestion that there are at least 100 cities smaller than Victoria with electric rail transit systems and, therefore, we should build one, Mr Guilbault uses the example of Norfolk, Virginia. He states that Norfolk has a population of 234,000 and compares this to Victoria with 370,000, but these numbers are misleading. For a truer comparison he should use the metro population of Norfolk, which is 1.6 million, and the metro population of Victoria, which is 370,000. With over four times the population, Guilbault’s  Norfolk comparison hardly supports an LRT system for Victoria. I wonder how many of his other “hundred cities smaller than Victoria” are also misleading examples.

Ron Spence


Re: School Board pans its own strategic plan, Oct 2011

I really appreciate Rob Wipond’s timely report. We have had huge issues with a Stantec-generated report that justified removing our school. After our own consulting engineers reported 500 children in the same area that Stantec could only find 295, the Township of Langley and SD#35 started a damage control exercise, reducing our access to vital information (like the Stantec report!).

However, we succeeded in getting enough attention that we might stand a chance. See

Pete Pretorius


A big “thank you” to Rob Wipond for his investigation into the copy-and-paste strategic planning efforts of Stantec and the Greater Victoria School District. After the article was published, I wrote an open letter to Stantec (available at I sent it by email and snail mail to the firm’s CEO, Bob Gomes, in hopes of making him aware of the problems outlined in Wipond’s essay. Unfortunately, there has been no response to date.

David Bratzer


Re: Calling shenanigans on that, Oct 2011

David Broadland’s wonderful articles are first class. The real urgent problem is that we have no competence on the council. Indeed, the incompetence is palpable as well as the lack of honesty. Who can we find to run? This is truly a crisis. Surely there must be competent citizens who could be recruited. Very discouraging. The bureaucracy has taken over.

Peter Pollen


Re: Courting collapse, Oct 2011

I marched with the “Salmon Are Sacred” procession on May Day 2010, organized by the talented heroine Alexandra Morton. I still remember BC Ferries cafeteria sandwiches with crimson salmon, starting first at $1.50, from the 1960s through the early ’80s. Then the grey-pink stuff showed up.

How can there not be destructive salmon farms with current global consumption levels? It’s the same thing as industrial cattle-slaughter feedlots. We are conditioned by super-profit-maximizing interests into a frenzied, hedonistic desire for something with a face at every meal. Wild salmon habitat will restore only when we take the profit out of its consumption.

Only decommodification can restore the wild salmon abundance found 60 years ago. A decommodification regime will impose strict regulation and quotas. Salmon will again have to become a treat, not a staple, if we are sincere about this. 

The lost jobs can be justly transitioned to other work (habitat restoration, conservation, solar energy, public transit development) with full livelihoods guaranteed. Those who lived for centuries on wild salmon will be legally assured a fair and culturally determined amount. 

Ms Morton said, “Fisheries were closed, salmon became scarce in some years to the people whose bodies require it.” 

Since vegans have no biological need for salmon, the more quickly we can breed them, the better.

Frances Pearson


Re: Zoned out in Rock Bay, Oct 2011

As I browsed through the latest issue of Focus, the photos in this article caught my eye. The views of the Rock Bay area are what I see daily as I park and enter off the sidewalk to our newly constructed store, where I’m sure these snaps were taken. My business partner Cindy Dreger and I are soon to open our new venture, Ingredients Health Food and Apple Cafe, and so can relate closely to the challenges and opportunities of developing a retail space in this beautiful yet understated and highly transitional area on the rim of downtown Victoria.

I personally love this area. I have made the Cowichan Valley my home for the past 12 years and whenever I ventured south to Victoria this was the location that drew me in. The Sports Trader building where we are setting up shop is a protected heritage building and has required extensive renovation as we transform it into a grocery store, cafe, and community space. Our building, located across from the Rock Bay waterfront near the corner of Store and Discovery streets, was originally constructed to house Victoria streetcars, during which time it was known as the Pemberton Barn. In keeping with the historical value of the building, we have needed to restore the street face to more closely resemble its original look, and thankfully we encountered no contaminated soil as we dug up the road to connect to the sewer system. 

I spent many hours in City Hall following any lead I was given on how to proceed through the building and permitting process, and would like to make mention of the helpful people I met there. There is a lot of red tape, which got frustrating at times, but when you believe in what you are trying to do—create jobs, support community, restore space—and can share that vision with determination, our experience has been that people are more than willing to help. Development is an ongoing process. For example, heritage parking restrictions mean that currently we are only approved for nine permanent seats in the cafe. Working with others in the community however, we are exploring solutions such as installing bike racks for customers and staff. With the good intentions of enough people working together, we are confident that change is not only possible, but inevitable.

We are working closely with the City, the owners of the building, and our neighbours to transform our corner of Rock Bay into what we feel is a blossoming little piece of paradise. In our minds the clean-up is underway, at least in our corner.

Deanna Danychuk


Re: This artist follows the money, Oct 2011

Always nice to see an article on money reform. Paul Grignon has done an excellent job with his video series. I’d like to add a couple of thoughts to the discussion.

When talking about the insanity of money and banking, it’s important to beware of the all-inclusive “we” and its implication of collective responsibility. It’s not our fault. The financial system is being imposed upon us by powerful people, i.e. the power elite, and no wonder. The banking system is the source of their power, coupled with general ignorance about where money comes from. Let’s be aware of who is responsible so we can be more effective in our push for money reform.

Also, Paul is right when he says it’s best to stick with a monopoly money system. Too bad the elite control that monopoly instead of the people. Community currencies are an attempt to get out from under their thumb, but they’ll never be able to address the horrendous inequities caused by the elite’s debt system. Presently, the elite’s system manufactures poverty, ever-growing inequality, worsening environmental degradation, and war. Things don’t have to be this way. 

If the people controlled the money supply, through our government via the Bank of Canada, things would change rapidly for the better. The people’s system would facilitate general prosperity, warm relations, a pristine environment, and peace. No more debt slavery. No more growth imperative. So let’s work to make money reform an idea whose time has come.

Marc Bombois


Rob Wipond responds: Thanks for your thoughtful letter, Marc. Just one clarification: It is my understanding that Paul Grignon does not recommend that we stick with the monopoly system; at least, not anymore, as he clarifies in Money as Debt 3. He does recognize that it may be helpful and/or necessary to run both an alternative community-based money system and the current system at the same time, though.


Occupy Victoria

They say one letter to parliament is indicative of the feelings of at least another 100 that didn’t bother to write. That suggests the 1500 plus that did turn up at the Occupy Victoria Rally actually represented over 150,000 people from Vancouver Island alone—or more, because taking the time to write is one thing, but taking the time to protest is far more significant.

Sorry to say most of the news reporters did little to support us, giving the impression we were just a bunch of kids letting off steam. They couldn’t be more wrong. 

If it looked like we didn’t know what we were doing, then maybe we didn’t; this is a first for us. We don’t have all the money to pay people to organize, or paid lawyers to make sure everything is politically correct. 

Our goal is to end corporate greed, stop government corruption, and redistribute the wealth that the top 1% has while the other 99% of the world struggles to make ends meet. My family and I were there and we will continue to demand change until we have stopped the utter incompetence of those in power.

John St John