Tag Archives: Calgary

How The Anti-Fluoride Craze Explains Sarah Palin

Tom Flanagan is upset that Calgary’s city council has decided to end fluoride treatment of Calgary’s water supply. This is, as Flanagan correctly points out, against all evidence about the safety and benefits of fluoride in the water supply. Of course, as the Big City Liberal observes, Flanagan is reaping a whirlwind that he sowed by scoffing at “evidence” and “scientists” and so on when it came to global warming. Flanagan belongs to that strange and shrinking group of so-called respectable right-wingers. These are those on the right who like to whip up populist sentiment against the by deriding scientists, elites, liberals, ivory tower intellectuals and the government as being aloof and out of touch but still like to be able to hit the brakes some of the time and admit that yes, science or scholarship or what-have-you needs to be taken seriously once in a while. Some problems do actually require evidence-based solutions.

Of course as long as the majority opinion among right-wing media personalities was of this variety, there was a limit to how much frothing know-nothing outrage made it into the mainstream. There might be extreme or radical proposals on the American right but they had to be at least somewhat rationally defensible. I could call on the example here of William Buckley who had the courage to cast the Birchers out of the American conservative movement. I disagree with most of what Buckley stood for, but at least he had some kind of sense of what was the difference between someone who was strong-minded or opinionated and someone who was just plain crazy.

In today’s conservative movement though, it appears that the monkeys have final taken over the zoo and the energized populists will not heed the calls of sensible conservatives to rein in the crazy. They of course now have two heroes in this approach: Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. Both Palin and Beck have been willing to double-down on the crazy every time they are given the option. They are prepared to entertain the nuttiest fringe stuff from birthers to death panels. Imagine if Palin and Beck somehow got embroiled in this fluoride thing, Palin would be calling on scientists to refudiate fluoride while Beck would draw a weird chart trying to show that big fluoride is connected to Soros, Islam, and the Nazis. If Flanagan is going to use the crazy fringe as a means to political ends, he is going to have to deal with more and more of this kind of thing. This is the tiger he has chosen to ride.


Yellow Ribbon Idiocy

I’ve said before that I feel that, as a gesture, yellow ribbons are somewhat stupid. I think they probably afford more than a few of those that tack them on their cars the ability to feel good about themselves without doing anything to materially support Canadian troops.

Many on the right also seem to try to have it both ways by suggesting that ribbons are just a nice thing to do for the troops regardless of political opinion and that they are a sign of support for the mission that the troops are obliged to undertake. Additionally, Canada has had its own perfectly good symbols to show appreciation to soldiers without needing to import ones from the US (will we put an American flag on the Vimy memorial next?)

Anyway there was a silly mess over Toronto removing these magnets from city-owned vehicles. The usual suspects blamed this on the crazy “Taliban Jack Quislings” of Toronto City Council. Today though we find out that Calgary, the heart of Conservative-land, home to Steve Harper’s riding has not and will not put these same things on city vehicles. I await the indignation.

Work Camps

Eugene Plawiuk dug up this story about efforts by a Calgary business to create labour camps to deal with Alberta’s labour shortage. I can only wonder at the consequences of such a program of labour camps over the long term. Of course the company, Lehigh Inland Cement, is insisting that this won’t be like the bad old days of the 1930s when labour camps were dreadful affairs – no they insist this will be totally different.

By the sounds of this quote, it looks like it will be some kind of trailer park:

“There is a location down south of where we are that really has already a structured facility and had been permitted for trailers, I believe.”

Great. Now, this company is doing this because it believes that people are turned-off of moving to Calgary because of high housing costs. What about, instead of making a work camp, actually paying such a wage that people could afford housing? This company seems to be taking the decision that it is actually cheaper to construct some kind of living quarters where workers would be housed than it is to pay them. I can only imagine what kind of living conditions one might enjoy in such a work camp.

If one’s employer is also one’s landlord, what kind of other conditions might one expect in the camp? This looks like a play for control over the lives of employees. If you live in a work camp, can you drink? Is there a curfew?
Picture: Julian, Bubbles, and Ricky contemplate whether Lehigh’s trailer park would treat them better than Lahey’s