Dec 022011

CITIZENS’ ASSEMBLY,  SASKATOON,  MARCH 30-31, 2012      How are we going to get rid of dental amalgams (mercury)?

NOTE:  the event is organized around ONE well-known neuro-toxin, mercury.  Neuro-toxins affect the developing brain.   Every day, mercury is being placed in the mouths of more people in the form of dental amalgams (50% mercury).  Amalgams have been banned in European countries, there has been a 30% decrease in its use in the U.S. while in Canada, the importation of amalgam has increased.   

It is as though we are the dumping ground for amalgam, along with African countries – – –  the asbestos story in reverse – – dependent upon an uninformed population.

 Through public consultations (spring 2011) Environment Canada received plenty of documentation on the science, from scientists themselves.  Nonetheless, EC is going to exempt amalgams from the regulations that ban the use of mercury in products imported into Canada. 

There are, of course, other poisons that are connected to the creation of developmental problems and disease rates.   Mercury may be the worst one;  we are tackling it in this Citizens’ Assembly, which is not to say that the question of other toxins will not come up in the discussions.

– – – – – – – – 

PURPOSE OF THE ASSEMBLY:   Determine how we are going to stop the use of amalgam (50% mercury) for dental fillings. 

 “Silver” dental fillings (amalgam) are not silver.  They are 50% mercury, silver in colour only.  Amalgam is the most commonly-used filling material in Canada.   

Mercury from dental amalgams crosses the placental barrier;  it is in Mothers’ breast milk.   Mercury is related to developmental problems, cognitive functioning, various diseases.

 Environment Canada is developing regulations aimed at getting rid of products that contain mercury.    

The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) made a submission to Environment Canada, as part of the public consultation process.   The IAOMT submission points out that the single largest exposure to mercury is through dental amalgams.  

If the Government exempts amalgams (which it is trying to do), the regulations will have no significant effect in reducing the diseases and developmental problems associated with mercury poisoning. 

“Use of dental amalgam is disproportionately high in the poor, and in Canadian First Nations and Inuit populations”  because they are usually dependent on socialized dental services which almost exclusively use dental amalgam (as opposed to safer, alternative filling material).

We are moving forward on an “empowerment” basis, a Citizens’ Assembly.

  • The  Assembly is on mercury in dental amalgams to answer the question “HOW are we going to get them stopped”?   

The Vice-President of the IAOMT, Dr. Nestor Shapka and Dr. David Warwick (dentist) have agreed to tell us what they know.  That will happen on the evening of Friday March 30, 2012.

 YOU NEED EVIDENCE re amalgams?  FOR SURE!   There is a file collected by persons in an email network.  See the blog www.sandrafinley.caHeavy metals in vaccinations, Mercury in dental amalgams.    Please refer to it, for evidence of the need to stop the use of amalgams.   The file contains the science and the experience of many people.  

You will find the IAOMT Submission to Environment Canada in the file, dated Nov 27.  

I’ve been doing some thinking in relation to:

  • the need to get rid of amalgams (way past due)
  • the level of awareness (not bad)
  • the political environment (Occupy, even in Saskatoon)
  • how to get outcomes (not the conventional tried-and-failed methods)
  • obstacles (interests – financial – in maintenance of the status quo)
  •  capacity (good, connected activist community in S’toon & Provincially; internet communications facilitate)
  •  context (fits into a series of “empowerment” events that have gone before)
  • context:  failing regulatory capacity of Govt/Universities – –  corporate values and interests mean we have to empower citizens to take back “the public interest” – the faster, the better.

So, Friday evening – Doctors Shapka and Warwick tell us what they know, followed by Q&A discussion.   THEN, 

      Saturday, March 30:   Citizens Assembly

–        Hold it as a trial to come up with a solution:  how are we going to stop the amalgams?   Develop a strategy and implementation plan.

–        The Assembly would be video-taped for circulation on-line and in other communities.

–        (If this Assembly goes well,  it could be the basis for a “next one”.)


–        Invite input from citizens, open-ended but also some specific questions.

–        Might help to structure the discussion at the Assembly

–        Use a facebook page and blog to supply information and encourage people to become informed BEFORE they come.


–        6:30 pm  people register

–        7:00 pm  Presentation by Dr. Nestor Shapka and Dr. David Warwick from the IAOMT, followed by question period.


–        am:   Facilitated discussions in plenary, and in facilitated break-out groups that lead to

–        pm:   This is how we are going to implement the cessation of amalgam dental fillings 


  • the small group of people who have been working on the topic (centred in the towns of Radisson and St Brieux)
  • the doctors and dentists those people have worked with
  • my network (larger number, have followed the issue)
  • People, their families and friends, who have MS, Alzheimers, cancers, mental illness, dementia, yeast infections, digestive problems, diabetes, etc. etc
  • The “disease organizations” that support these people and their families.
  • ***   Community living centres and care homes where disabled people live.   (***  In April I talked at one home.   Many of the residents are in wheelchairs and disabled but their intelligence and spirit are unimpaired.  They WANT to contribute to the community.   I queried them about participation in an event at the University where they come and speak (some through an aid) to tell the professors at the University that they (the disabled) are the proof of what happens when we poison the environment.  They will speak on behalf of those not yet born, demanding that we change.   The support staff at the Home was very willing to make this form of participation happen for the residents of the home.   There will be more residences for disabled people who would participate in a similar vein.)
  • Students and personnel in medicine, dentistry, nursing, toxicology, water, agriculture, sustainability, environmental studies, kinesiology, etc.
  • First Nations people
  • every organization that has anything to do with pregnant mothers, newborns, young children.
  • The Democracy group which includes Fair Vote Canada which talks in terms of a Citizens Assembly to move ahead on reform of the electoral system (first-past-the-post is obsolete and disastrous).
  • The Occupy group will be interested; they already talk about citizen assemblies.
  • The hospitals
  • University administrators
  • Government officials
  • Who else?    (tax-payers who foot the medi-care system!!!)

CONTACT:  Sandra Finley, 373-8078.

= = = = = = =  == = = = =  ==  = == =  = = == =


My understanding of today’s situation:  unless we address CAUSE,  we are doomed to banging our heads against the wall.   

QUESTION:  What is at the root of growing income disparities, for example?  Or the HIV epidemic?  . . .

RESPONSE:  We have real and very serious problems with our system of governance.   If we do not get the corporate interest and values out of public institutions the problems will only continue to worsen, in spite of the best efforts of all of us, AIDS Saskatoon included.  

QUESTION:  In our own community, WHERE do “the professionals”, the “influential” people, the ones who should be leading the way, come from?  . . . 

RESPONSE:  it is largely the University.  Look in all the Government Departments, look in the City Administration – – – most of these people have graduated from a University.   

Go to the root of problems:  corporate interest and CORPORATE VALUES at the University need to be addressed if we are going to get a reversal in poverty trend-lines, for example.  

 The University is the custodian of our knowledge base;  many young people attend at an age when they are impressionable and lacking in life experience.   Many of them don’t have the skills to challenge what they are being taught and it wouldn’t benefit them to challenge.    

Important things that are being taught don’t stand up to scrutiny, which tells me that students are not developing critical thinking skills nor are they empowered in the way that citizens in a democracy need to be.  If students can think, AND if they are capable of making JUDGMENTS, then they would not accept sloppy lessons.  Learning should EMPOWER people to be active citizens, essential to democracy.   The fact that students graduate without ever challenging ideas that don’t stand up to scrutiny tells me that our educational institutions have DIS-empowered them.   It is worrisome that we accept this outcome, a passive citizenry especially among the “influential”.  

Some other activists and myself got elected to the Senate of the University to assert the public interest.  The Senate is supposed to be the voice of the community in the governance of the University.   It has been a silent voice until recently.   I tell you this because – –  perhaps AIDS Saskatoon will be interested in attending the Citizens’ Assembly.    

Ultimately our failure to make progress comes back to ourselves, our failure to stand up and speak, to connect with others, to share information and ideas, to work together.   The University is pivotal because it produces the “influential” members of our society.  “Influential” people have to be held to account.  It is the role of Citizens to do that.

There is an important relationship between your work (HIV) and my personal experience with tuberculosis.   Perhaps I could explain it over coffee sometime?   There are articles  about it on my blog,  – – but sometimes a conversation works better.   . . .  

The Citizens’ Assembly might seem to be about one thing, mercury poisoning through dental amalgams (“silver” fillings).   

QUESTION:  How is that relevant to you?  


  • If we can create the critical mass to bring about change on this one issue, we become stronger, the powers-that-be become weaker.  We gain experience.  The next battle is successful with less effort.  The snowball gathers weight and momentum as it rolls down the hill.
  • Poor people almost exclusively receive these fillings that are 50% mercury (a neuro toxin)
  • Neuro toxins affect cognitive functioning.   People with lower levels of cognitive functioning are most often poor.
  • The Citizens’ Assembly will be successful, at least by some measure.  More people will know the developmental and disease relationship to mercury in dental amalgam.  The consequence:  we will have made life better for some.  And more people will be empowered to take action in relation to human and environmental health.

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