Lyn McLean speaks with Frank Clegg, CEO of Canadians 4 Safe Technology
You were President of Microsoft Canada and now you’re CEO of an organisation that promotes the risks of wireless radiation. What caused you to become concerned about this radiation?
"I was approached by three different families from our local community who had cell towers right near their homes.
My wife and I attended a local council meeting, which representatives from Health Canada and Industry Canada attended and, by the time I finished that meeting, I was pretty motivated to get involved.
I discovered that the local municipality had no rights to stop the cell tower. We were told the only thing they could address was how it looked— the visual impact. We were not allowed to talk about health effects at the meeting. Certainly that presentation demonstrated how arrogant and uninterested the Federal Government is. Its representatives were just there to answer as few questions as they could.
That caused me to do more research myself, to read the studies, talk to more experts. I became convinced that the process was horrible. The more I investigated this, the more I was concerned. I just got more and more involved and, the more involved I got, the more determined I was to make a difference.
If you’re open minded, you can only come up with the conclusion that our guidelines are not protecting us."
What led you to establish C4ST?
"If you’re going to change the guidelines of the Federal Government, you need an organisation that’s going to be national in scope, that’s going to have credibility. It became very clear that we had to be involved at the federal level or there was no point."
Do you believe that electromagnetic hypersensitivity is real?
"Absolutely! My wife is chemically sensitive and has been to hospital a couple of times from exposure to pesticides. Over the last year or so, she’s been developing electrosensitivity.
I also get emails from people who are electrosensitive. Our website’s got stories from 25 of them now. I certainly talk to a lot of them. Two of the members on our board in Quebec, are electrosensitive. One has chemical sensitivity and reacts to WiFi and smart meters and her mom became very ill as well. One of the members of our board has a son who is electrosensitive.
So I probably know closely about half a dozen people who have electrosensitivity."
What are your goals?
"My personal goals and my work goals are very similar.
There are two parts to what we’re trying to do. The first is to raise awareness among Canadians and policy-makers that there are harmful effects of technology.
The second goal is to change our federal guidelines – Safety Code 6—so that it does a better job of protecting the public.
We spent a lot of time discussing whether we should just focus on one technology – WiFi in schools or cell towers. In Quebec and British Columbia they’re very, very worried about smart meters. In Ontario there’s been a huge interest in cell towers for the last couple of years and that’s now starting to shift to Wifi in schools.
We felt that we had to go back to the source of the problem, which is Safety Code 6, and change that. Safety Code 6 is the umbrella that impacts everything.
The problem is that the higher the level of the goal, the more difficult it is to accomplish."
Is the Canadian government listening?
"Has the government made any changes? I’d have to honestly say no.
Have we made a lot of contacts in the government? Yes, we have; we’ve had a lot of meetings. Have they sent us a lot of platitudes? Yes, they have. But if I was I to harshly evaluate this, right now I’d have to say—no.
Having said that, I’m encouraged because we are causing cell towers to be moved. And we’ve been told by the government that we are one of the organisations that they would go to to have dialogue.
There are a couple of things we’ve got that we’ve never had before. They’ve never gone to an independent expert review before. They’ve also, in the past, published guidelines without proper consultation process. So they are changing their game. We’re having small wins.
I met someone who had been heavily involved in the tobacco issue. He said it can take as long as a decade to change policy."
Are Canadians listening?
"We did a survey two years ago when we started the organisation. We thought: let’s get a baseline about awareness. We were flabbergasted by the results. It was a survey of 1000 people by a polling organisation. It showed 70% of Canadians were aware of the potential harmful effects of wireless radiation and 60% were concerned. So I think people inherently know that devices that you hold to your head can’t be good for you; inherently know that sitting in a classroom with WiFi isn’t a good idea.
When people put a little bit of time into researching this, they become very aware and very concerned very quickly.
Sometimes they’re in denial. But a lot of them change what they do, so that’s encouraging."
Do you have any advice for readers?
"There are five safety tips we recommend.
- Distance is your friend. Keep your phone away from you. Don’t put it to your head. Men, don’t stick it in your trouser pocket. Young
women, don’t stick it in your bra. Don’t have it near you when you’re sleeping at night. Kids should not use them.
- Don’t use WiFi. I’ve never had WiFi in my home—people are surprised by that. If you have WiFi, go to a local hardware store
and buy a timer and make sure that, when you go to bed at night, it’s off and there won’t be any chance of exposure and your children will have
a chance to grow healthy cells.
- Baby monitors are a no no. We have not been able to find a baby monitor that wasn’t a problem.
- Smart meters – if you have to have one, make sure it’s not in an area where there’s high traffic.
- Portable phones for the home: don’t use them! We didn’t realise that the phone could be three or four rooms away and still be affecting us.
Society is going to reach a tipping point on this issue. Everything we do is moving that point forward. Sometimes I feel we’ve moved it forward a minute; other times I think we’ve moved it forward weeks or months.
We believe that that the most important thing people can do is get informed. Do not assume that your government has the resources to keep up with the tremendous advances in technology. You have to take responsibility to protect yourself and your family. People who aren’t aware of this issue, I would encourage them to pick up and read just one article.
You as a consumer need to educate yourself. Don’t rely on everyone else doing that for you. Technology can be used safely if it is used correctly. We’re Canadians for Safe Technology, not No technology."
About The Author - Lyn McLean is a consumer advocate, author and educator and has been monitoring and writing on the subject of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) for over 20 years. She is the director of EMR Australia.