Farm or Fight?

Canadians faced a unique dilemma during World War I: should citizens join the army or ramp up farm production to feed ourselves well while expanding food exports to Britain? The question preoccupied the entire country from 1914 until the war ended, but as a new city at the edge of farmland, Verdun took a leading role in determining a response.

I’ll be giving a presentation in the Verdun greenhouses on September 20 about the farm or fight dilemma by examining the experiences of the Glass, Hadley, Luker, Murray, Sullivan and Winsper families. I’ll argue that Verdun’s evolution from a young entity with few people to a booming metropolis that supplied the highest per capita enlistment of any city in the British Empire exemplifies the Canadian experience.

Participation costs $15 and includes some war-time recipes to sample and take home.

This is the first of four heritage food presentations under the auspices of Coopérative de solidarité Abondance Urbain Solidaire (CAUS) to take place at Grand Potager.

 

Farm or Fight

Thursday, September 20

7 to 8:30 p.m.

7000 Blvd. LaSalle, Verdun

Tickets: $15 ($13.50 for CAUS members)—pick them up at the Verdun Farmers’ Markets or pay online.

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The Kings’ Daughters: They came to populate New France

As she boarded the great ship Phoénix de Flessingue in May 1663, she knew she would never return to her hometown of La Rochelle, France.

Did she worry about the ship sinking or being attacked on the six-week journey overseas? What kind of life did she imagine might be waiting for her in New France? How could she agree to marry a man, Maurice Rivet, sight unseen? Did she wonder what their life raising a family together might be like?

Whatever unanswered questions she may have had, my ancestor Catherine Barre chose to be a pawn in King Louis X1V’s scheme to populate New France. In exchange for her agreement to marry and raise a family, she received 10 pounds for her own use, 30 pounds for clothing and grooming paraphernalia and free passage overseas at a cost of 60 pounds.[1]

Today, we refer to these women as King’s Daughters.

I am among Catherine’s 12th generation descendants from my father’s side. Thinking about her courage and resiliency gives me strength, even as I notice myself sharing her impulsive faith-led need to act, sometimes with less information than is desirable. Despite that flaw, Catherine’s life seems to have worked out, with a few major hiccups.

The first hiccup was her husband.

Shortly after the Phoénix arrived in Quebec City on June 30, 1663, she married Rivet as planned. That decision saved her a bizarre-sounding 15th century version of speed-dating. Many Kings Daughters took a boat ride down the St. Lawrence, stopping from town to town to meet eligible bachelors.[2]

Something went horribly wrong with her marriage and the church annulled it on November 17, 1664[3].

She celebrated Christmas that year alone, but married Mathurin Chaille on January 11, 1665 and their first child, a son was born nine months later.

My direct relative was their fourth child, Jean Barre Chaille, who came along in 1674, when they had moved to Sillery, seemingly after being evicted from their farm on the seigneurie of Beauport.[4]

The couple had six children in total. One son died at 10 years old, but the rest married and had families of their own. Three of the families lived in Portneuf near their parents, but my ancestor Jean and his brother Henri moved to Montreal. I like to imagine Catherine and her husband Mathurin visiting them on occasion, but haven’t yet found evidence of that.

Both Catherine and her husband Mathurin died within a week of each other in the summer of 1707. She was 63 years old.

(Note: There were record-breaking heatwaves in England and France in July[5], when the couple died, so I wonder if something similar happened in Quebec. That’s a question to be confirmed in future.)

[1] Gousse, S., & Wien, T. (n.d.). Filles du Roi. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/filles-du-roi/ on July 18, 2018.

[2] Most French Canadians are descended from these 800 women | CBC Canada 2017. (2017, March 30). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/2017/canadathestoryofus/most-french-canadians-are-descended-from-these-800-women-1.4029699 on July 18, 2018.

[3] Dee, E. (n.d.). The Families of Beauport – The Chailles. Retrieved from http://www.oocities.org/weallcamefromsomewhere/Beauport/chaille_family.html on July 18, 2018.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Maruske, James. A
Chronological
Listing
of
Early
 Weather
Events retrieved from https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/weather1.pdf, on 2018.

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Unapologetically Canadian Episode 9: Environmental lawyer Charles O’Brien’s EMF case

I recently interviewed Charles O’Brien who is the lawyer who intended to get the class action about electromagnetic fields authorized in Quebec. So far, it’s been a three-year journey.

I spoke to him last month just as he got the judgement and found out that we were not authorized. And I say “we” because my husband was the technical expert for the last couple of years. And so I started to take a personal interest in the case which is not usually what I do as a journalist but that’s what happened. So that’s why I’ve been public about it. And that’s why I helped start a nonprofit to help publicize and continue Charles’ work. We are still in the process of trying to get this class action authorized.

Listen to Unapologetically Canadian Episode 9: Environmental lawyer Charles O’Brien’s EMF case
[00:01:08] The other thing that you need to know as a listener is that Charles and I have been friends we’ve just determined for 22 years. So I’m biased on that side too. I want him to win.

[00:01:16] Oh good. So the challenge is not being authorized means that we have to appeal this decision or do something else. So we might as well start off with that first.

How do you feel about the decision?

[00:01:32] Well I think that there are a number of errors in it, both in law and in terms of the facts that we presented. I’m particularly concerned over the issue of the rights of the flora and fauna, which I thought we made a very strong case for and was not really opposed at all by the other side. It was very short and I don’t think very seriously treated by his lordship and so on that aspect, I am quite concerned. I don’t think that to say that because we eat animals, they don’t have rights and that as far as I can tell was the basis of his decision.

[00:02:12] On the other hand, his lordship was very clear that the case was in his view far too complicated to proceed as a cumulative effects case because generally you sue either one party one industry and we sued all of the emitters all the major emitters, two of each for the most part and the governments. And it certainly is the case that our claim is complicated.

It’s complicated in the sense that there are many sources. It’s complicated in the sense that there is false science that we’re trying to disprove and it’s also complicated in the fact that the governments have been I would say very unquestioning in their view and claims that safety code 6 and similar standards that are used elsewhere for EMF is an acceptable standard. It really isn’t. It’s not a standard at all. And that’s one of the mistakes that the judge made is to call it a standard. It’s called a guideline here but we’re not sure it’s applied and it certainly doesn’t apply to cumulative effects.

Modern environmental law

Modern environmental law is all about cumulations. It’s all about the multiplicity of sources of a kind of pollution effect. And the judge really seemed to prefer to have an assessment based on either one source ie Smart Meters or towers or what have you. But where cases like that have been brought in the past, and particularly in BC in the Davis case, they failed because the defendants simply come to court like in the old water pollution cases and say that we are not the only people dumping. There are other sources of EMF and therefore you can’t pin it on us.

So we intentionally chose a more complicated approach. Pedro Gregorio put together a very well-thought-out methodology for trying to weigh the various emissions of all the different polluters when it comes to EMF with the help of our other experts. And so I think that though it is a hard case, this is the only way to prosecute it and the judge seemed to say that it was too complicated for a court to handle. Which I think is not how these matters are to be considered in a class action context where you are trying to protect the victims.

[00:04:38] So I think the court is better and really obliged to find a way, as efficiently as possible, to take the evidence that is there and make the most of it and decide whether or not there’s a case and if there is a case then require the defendants to show that the claims aren’t true.

So I guess that’s the next step is either appeal this decision or what?

[00:05:05] If we don’t appeal, the other option would be to file a somewhat pared-down version of a cumulative effects case, where we would, instead of trying to get all of the industries involved as defendants; we would limit it to the most severe polluters. Given that 5G is going to be the next big source after towers and smart meters, I think we would limit it to those kinds– I’d talk to the experts of course, and find out who they think are the essential defendants. I think the governments have to be there because of the lack of a serious standard for EMF, but the option would be to pare it down to the very least number necessary from the various industries to make sure that the main contributors to EMF pollution are there.

Why do you care so much about this issue?

[00:06:15] There’s a couple of reasons for that. One of the reasons that bothers me the most is that like lead, asbestos, climate change, tobacco is the most recent example, I’m personally bothered where the industry influences the science and convinces the government that there is no pollution problem and there are no victims, when in fact there are. The false science aspect of it is very bothersome to me. I hate dishonesty. I consider it to be dishonest. The government has played along with this. I don’t understand why not just our government but many significant governments including World Health and other organizations like that.

The other reason that I went with this is that Quebec is the most open-minded jurisdiction to environmental class action suits, both in terms of authorizing and also in terms of funding. EMF has not been able to be prosecuted as a class action anywhere. There have been discreet cases of brain cancer or a brain tumour in cell phones but nobody has really tried to put together a serious EMF class action suit with the exception of the case that was brought in British Columbia, which is the Davis Case. In that situation, they tried to sue for smart meters. And they were blocked because the defendants brought experts who said, even if there are EMF emissions from smart meters, there are other EMF emissions from a variety of sources. They again claimed that there were natural sources, which is not true in regards to non-ionizing radiation and they claimed that humans make EMF which is laughable. But the other option which is to choose the largest emitter and sue them only has failed. So the cumulative approach is necessary.

Quebec is open to class action and Quebec has a funding provision, which unfortunately we didn’t get funding, but there are fewer costs involved as well. So this is the right jurisdiction to bring a case like this.

As well, when you go to class action conferences, the judges continue to complain that in Quebec class actions come from other provinces or come from the States. Many of the class action suits that are authorized are photocopies of California cases or Ontario cases. And then they become national. The Quebec lawyers sitting in the back seat until the decision is made elsewhere. In Ontario, usually or in BC and then we just follow along and the judges really want to have Quebec at the forefront of class actions. As we’re very strong in environmental law and environmental class actions, and in particular Quebec we’re far ahead of everybody else in terms of the rights of flora and fauna, it seemed to me that this was the kind of subject matter that Quebec would be interested in and could lead. So that was why I put those two elements together both the cumulative effects of EMF and the rights of flora and fauna and of course, flora and fauna are clearly affected by EMF just as humans are.

[00:09:34] From there. I am questioning because I don’t want to ask you questions about strategy are still working that out and we just thought the judgement and it’s only two weeks old, so it’s not like you’ve had a lot of time to digest it anyway. So maybe we can move on to the rest of your career. One of the things that the judge pointed out is that you are essentially a one-man operation. He actually found that questionable as a way to operate. I’m surprised it would seem to me that a one person operation is actually more limber and able to do some kinds of cases that would be different than other major firms might be able to handle primarily because you don’t have to worry about conflict of interest as much.

Exactly and conflict is an issue here.

And one of the things that I noticed in Quebec that a lot of cases that otherwise might have grounds to be taken up by someone often are left behind because firms are worried about conflicts with other clients. And so I thought that he would have been impressed by your handling of this. You talked about

Why do you operate as a one-person operation and what have you done in your career?

[00:10:52] I would start with this case and then I’ll tell you more after. This case is all about experts. Any EMF case is about experts and when Marcel Durand spoke to me and asked me to take this on. I said if you bring me an expert, bring me a qualified expert, I will take on the case. And I heard back from Marcel again about eight months later in another phone call. I said, Marcel, we had this conversation months ago. And then Marcel went and got top-flight experts.

So I felt comfortable and competent handling this as an environmental lawyer on my own. In particular, because I had world class actions and I also had the benefit of Pedro, your husband, who as a friend and as an expert was able to oversee people in my community that might have a bias for a certain view of things where he doesn’t have that. And so I had not only EMF experts but I had an independent expert who was able to look at their various expertise that was being proposed and to tell me this is credible. This is less credible. You can go this far. You can’t go any further because the stand would make the world dysfunctional from an electricity point of view.

So in this case, I’ve told everybody from day one it’s about the experts and the prosecutor’s legal element of it shouldn’t be that hard. Now I made it more difficult by bringing in a large number of defendants. But it really is a case about expertise. And if you look at our exhibits and our claim as drafted, it is almost only readable by somebody who has an understanding of engineering for the nature of the emissions for the nature of the damage caused. So. In this case, it was about having the experts.

I did approach other lawyers but you know they wanted to be paid. And we didn’t have any funding for that. So you use the resources that you have. We had essentially free experts or very affordable experts and of a quality that is second to none. So, in that case, I wasn’t at all bothered by it.

 

[00:13:03] With regard to why I’m a sole practitioner in environmental law, part of that is the fact that I like to choose cases that I think will be jurisprudence-making that will open the door for other cases in the future. The law firms are more interested usually in defence work quite frankly where the money is, or government work, where you have to answer to the government or the people that are telling the government what they want done. When I work on my own, I’m able to handle cases the way that I want. And what I’ve done to a fair extent is bring in notions from outside of Quebec and outside of Canada, American law, European law. In this case, some of the leading stuff comes out of India and China. So I take ideas from other countries as progressive as they can be in environmental law. I find lawyers that I can work with, experts I can work with and clients that are sympathetic to the cause right. Clients that have a good claim. And prosecute it that way. So it allows me to do things that other firms couldn’t do.

And it also comes back to the conflicts issue which you mentioned earlier because in a large firm you can’t sue companies like Google or Amazon or whatever the large companies because most large firms have a connection.

 

[00:14:32] In the tobacco case, it was very hard for the plaintiffs to find a law firm that didn’t have a conflict of interest and the lawyers that took the case for the plaintiffs had to actually walk out of the firms they were in because those firms had conflicts. So a smaller operation gives you the opportunity to do things that are more cutting edge. And I’m not there to reaffirm principles that already exist. I’m trying to push the envelope of environmental law and get better environmental precedents here in Quebec.

[00:15:03] Now that sort of brings up the whole why you even stayed in Quebec because you have some education from the U.S. you have the possibility of going in a whole bunch of other different countries and you could probably be more financially solvent.

What makes you stay here?

[00:15:20] It’s true. I have a master’s from France and from Vermont. I could have worked in the States but Vermont has a lot of environmental lawyers and the States has a lot of environmental litigation. They’re far more advanced than we are by I would say at least a decade, and possibly more. Quebec, when I started working here 20 years ago, was well behind the curve in environmental law and Canada is too. Quebec is catching up. We’ve got very good legislation and our charter is very strong. But the jurisprudence is not there yet. So my calculation was that I could do more good for the environment creating a precedent in Quebec than working in the States in a field that already had been paved existed and wasn’t going to change much.

[00:16:10] So you’re a trailblazer?

Here I am.

But doesn’t mean making sacrifices? Personal sacrifices?

Sure.

And having personal gains too, because you have family here.

[00:16:29] Most lawyers are interested in making money. Some lawyers are interested in making money and having a good reputation. And there are a handful that are actually trying to do good works and are less concerned about the other two.

So the sacrifice is financial, but that doesn’t bother me. I don’t have huge financial aspirations. I would like to do some good. As much as possible.

One of the reasons this case decision frustrates me is that I thought we were on the path to do something of great value not just for the Quebec victims, human flora and fauna but also for Canadian victims and North American victims where there are class action regimes available. So I’m happy to gamble in that sense. I don’t need the money or the reputation. But it’s a personal choice right. It’s the way I want to do things.

Yeah, but it’s thought out. It’s not like it just sort of happened. It’s not like you’ve been carried into it you sort of directed your own life. Or have you been carried into it to an extent?

[00:17:39] No. I made decisions along the way. I’ve been offered jobs in large law firms. I’ve worked in a large law firm. I was offered jobs in Vermont after I graduated with a master’s in Vermont. But I thought that was more important to try to establish a stronger environmental law basis here, create a jurisprudence here, where more good can be done.

[00:18:02] I’m not required in Vermont. I’m not required in France. But there are very few plaintiffs lawyers in Quebec, again not that many more in Canada, for environmental issues. And for flora and fauna, there are no lawyers doing anything at all.

But one of the things listeners some of the listeners don’t know is your history in Quebec and your roots here and your reputation here in your life in Quebec isn’t just based on doing good as a lawyer you have a history as a person here too. That’s what I want to talk to you about.

[00:18:37] Yes, I was born here and grew up here. My family’s been here for at least 100 years anyhow.

Many of my friends left Quebec when Réné Levesque got elected and people became concerned about referenda etc. Most of my friends moved to Ontario or the States. I had no interest in doing that even though I studied abroad and came back here. so I feel an attachment to get back into Canada for sure.

[00:19:09] And that leads to my final question which is:

Do you consider yourself a Canadian? If so, why?

[00:19:16] I most certainly do. I think the answer to the why has to do with values. You know. We are certainly different from Europeans that I’ve met and the Americans that I’ve met. I think there’s more of a social sense and there also is a sense of wanting to do good in the world. We speak about it a lot. I don’t know if we do as much as we seem to want to do but there is a civility here that I appreciate and a sense of neighbourhood that I haven’t found so much elsewhere. So I think that’s all part of it.

[00:19:55] Oh and what about your attachment to Montreal?

[00:19:59] Oh yeah I do love Montreal. That’s the cultural aspect for sure. I just got back when I was explaining to people in Panama that we had jazz music and we had Jackie Robinson because we had an openness to coloured people where the States did not. And I think, especially now you can see our openness to people of all cultures and backgrounds and colours and religions. And I think that’s a great thing. I’m pleased with that. I Had a friend who was once asked if there was a black problem in Toronto. She said yeah we don’t have enough of them.

[00:20:41] That was a good answer. That’s how Canadians think. We want more diversity and we enjoy it and believe it’s a good thing. Whereas other countries don’t.

It certainly helps with the food, music, the entertainment everything. I think we all share interests and attachment to Montreal. I didn’t grow up here though like you did.

[00:21:06] In Quebec, in particular, there is there’s a sense of being very social and sociable. You know if you watch people in a restaurant, they’re all going to be speaking amongst themselves. And a party is many people together, not groups of people off in corners and that is something that is very much the Quebec mindset and sense of community and I think that’s wonderful.

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Unapologetically Canadian Episode 8: Pedro Gregorio explains how EMF harms people

This is a transcript of my interview with Pedro Gregorio who is an expert in electromagnetic fields. He’s been consulting on a class action lawsuit here in Montreal and he also happens to be my life partner. And so we’re talking about electromagnetic fields what they are and. How he’s learned about them over the years.

Listen to Episode 8: Pedro Gregorio explains how EMF harms people
[00:00:39] So before we begin, Pedro, can you tell us

What are electromagnetic fields?

[00:00:45] So electromagnetic fields are pretty much everywhere. Anytime you think of anything in nature, a technology that uses electricity, you’ll have an electromagnetic field present. It’s a phenomenon that’s so broad-ranging that it’s difficult to comprehend. It can be complex.

But I guess one of the simplest ways to think about it is a rainbow. Everybody knows what a rainbow is, right? It has light. It has colours. There are different colours but it’s all light. If you were to stretch that rainbow out in both directions towards the lower frequency end, you’d get heat, you’d get radio waves, you’d get microwaves. Eventually, you’d get static fields, like static electricity when you pull a sweater over your head or the Earth’s magnetic field which doesn’t change. And if you go in the other direction all the way up to higher frequency you get to dangerous things,  things that can cause cancer directly like radiation, cosmic waves gamma rays, all those crazy things.

[00:01:52] When I think of electromagnetic fields I think of the towers next to our house or my cell phone or heck even the computer we’re talking on now and the microphone, so how can you think about it when you’re thinking about those devices.

[00:02:10] Sure. So I mean electricity you know people have been using electricity for a little over a hundred years. And not to put too fine a point on it any device that uses or creates electricity is using or creating electro magnetic fields. They come basically in two general flavours if you want to talk about it that way. There are power fields. So the kind of stuff that you’d have coming in on your hydro wires or devices that are making motors spin and use a lot of power, including microwave ovens that heat your food. And then on the other end, you’ve got low power stuff that’s used for communication. So TV signals, radio signals, your cell phones those kinds of things.

What are ionizing electromagnetic fields?

[00:03:08] Right. So to come back to the rainbow analogy that I was talking about earlier people when you get those funny sunglasses they all say UVA and UVB protection. So if you were looking at the whole rainbow including the invisible stuff at either end, when you get past the light you see…the rainbow goes you know green and blue, violet…If you go past the violet the colours you can’t see, those are ultraviolet. And people know that those can cause skin cancer directly. That’s kind of on the thin hairy edge of where you start talking about ionizing radiation. So ultraviolet light and above, ionize. What does that mean? It means the individual particles of light if you want are powerful enough to actually knock electrons. So think if you had a bowling ball and you throw it at a brick wall, you can knock bricks out of the wall. But if you’ve got a ping pong ball and you throw it at the brick wall, it’ll just bounce off. So the higher frequency radiation is called ionizing because each particle is powerful enough to knock bricks out of the wall to knock electrons out of the structures that make you and me.

What are non-ionizing electromagnetic fields?

[00:04:22] The non-ionizing is more like the ping pong balls like the parts lower than ultraviolet on the rainbow like blue light, green light, red light. They include radio waves, microwaves all of those other frequencies all the way down to the FM radio signals,  am radio signals, shortwave signals all of those things and the power frequencies the kind of 60-hertz stuff that comes out of the wall socket. The individual particles of those are small. They’re like ping pong balls or grains of rice. You can throw as many of those at a brickwall as you like, you’re not going to knock out a brick.

Why are EMFs harmful to people?

[00:05:11] So just like we’ve figured out over the past 100 or so years as people how to manipulate electromagnetic fields to our advantage, evolution has had a head start on us. And in fact, all of biology depends on mastering electromagnetic fields as well. Throughout nature, you look at birds and insects, they navigate magnetically. You look at plants, they use electric fields and create electric fields as part of their metabolism as part of their growth. And if you look at you and me, our entire biology is determined and takes advantage of, electricity and electromagnetic fields. Whether it’s neural signalling, such as all of the thoughts all of the nerves all of that happens in our body based on electric currents electric fields. When we dream, our thoughts, our memories, all of that is electricity in play. On the other end, even making our muscles move requires electric signalling and even moving things throughout our body, you know like when we perspire or when we have to move chemicals throughout our body for metabolism, all of that leverages electricity. Now whereas in technology, usually, you’re talking about electrons as carriers of electricity, in biology, you’re talking about ions. It’s slightly different, but the result is the same. You and I are electromagnetic beings.

If we’ve got technology creating electromagnetic fields, and people creating electromagnetic fields, why don’t they just work together?

[00:06:57] Right. So they don’t work together because they weren’t designed to work together. All of the electromagnetic phenomena that occur in nature have been there forever. The Earth’s magnetic field. Lightning from thunderstorms. All of these other phenomena have been around and biology has evolved over millennia, over millions of years with all of these as a background. In fact, you and I have actually tuned in to that the beat, the heartbeat of the planet. There’s actually a frequency, kind of like a pulsing, that happens in nature that people need to be tuned into in order to sleep, for example. So the difference with our technology is that it’s only about a hundred years old and from an evolutionary point of view, that’s instant. That’s like if you’re sleeping comfortably and someone comes in and flips on the light. It’ll disturb you. All of these new technologies are disturbing. Why don’t they play well together? Because conventional technology and science doesn’t acknowledge that there’s an issue.

How exactly do they affect people? What is happening?

[00:08:13] Right. So going back to the person sleeping, what do we do when we want to go to sleep? We turn off the light. If someone was to come in and turn on a pulsing light like a strobe light it would be pretty hard to sleep. It disrupts your sleep right? Well, the reality is that electromagnetic fields used in communication–cell phones etc.–those are always on. We can’t see them, but our brains can actually feel them. Some of the fundamental frequencies that phones use to talk to each other are actually matched to the frequencies of theta waves in our brain, the frequencies that we use for deep sleep and deep thought and they can actually get disrupted. Even cardiac pacing, your own internal pacemaker that lets your heart beat in time, that can be effected by external technology electromagnetic fields. So there’s lots of evidence that shows how even weak electromagnetic fields created by technology can impact biology and human biology in particular.

 

[00:09:16] But so then how can I mean because not everybody gets sick from electromagnetic fields. I mean they’re they’re hypersensitive people who they can tell if you’re talking on a cell phone to them for example, but normal like a lot of people don’t feel the difference if they’re talking on a cell phone.

[00:09:39] Sure. And I think there’s a couple of things we want to be careful about. One is “is there an effect?” and another is “do I know as an individual what’s affecting me.”

[00:09:51] There are lots of days when I wake up and I feel lousy. I may not be able to know why but there’s probably something making me feel lousy. And yes there are estimates of between three to five percent or more of the population are what we call the electro hyper sensitive individuals. These are people who can be affected when they’re surrounded by technology whether it’s power technology or mobile phones technology or wi-fi, bluetooth, those kinds of things more commonly. The reality is we are all electro sensitive. As we discussed before, our bodies depend on electricity for our for our rhythms and for all of our vital functions. And we are sensitive to those electric fields, the ones that our bodies create to regulate them and the disturbing fields that come from outside accidentally, those can also impact us. Some people are electro hypersensitive. They’re more sensitive than the normal population and as you say some of them, they can tell if there’s a cell phone on in the room. And they can be affected in profound ways, debilitating ways. Some people have to literally try and escape technology and find one of the few remaining spots where they’re not exposed. But having said that, people aren’t born electro-hypersensitive. It’s a phenomenon that develops on either chronic exposure to fields or other environmental issues–it could be chemical sensitivity, and then typically there’s a trigger event, an acute exposure, following which the individual continues to be hypersensitive to ever weaker exposures. So somebody who you know for a number of years, no issue. All of a sudden something happens., and then from then on, they can’t tolerate being in a room with people who have cell phones for example.

[00:11:45] Wow that must be really tough.

[00:11:47] It’s actually a huge challenge. And part of the challenge is a) for a very long time they don’t know what’s going on. All of a sudden they know that they’re sick but they don’t know why? Some of these folks struggle for a long time just to identify what the issues are. The medical establishment not only doesn’t know what’s going on but they are actively encouraged and taught that if someone presents with these symptoms, you refer them to a psychologist. So these people sometimes get ostracized. They get isolated. They find themselves in a situation where they have to remove themselves from social situations. They lose their friends. It can collapse relationships. They can spend a lot of their personal fortunes trying to mitigate, once they do find out what the issues are and how to protect themselves, they literally have to build cocoons and technological shells to protect themselves. It’s really a very challenging circumstance.

What is a Farraday cage?

[00:12:48] A Faraday cage is a shield. What a Faraday cage does is it interrupts an electro electric electromagnetic field. So for example, you look out the window, you can see the light coming through. You pull on the blind the light doesn’t come through. Electromagnetic fields generally, the kinds we’re talking about radio and power frequencies, they’ll go straight through solid walls. But what does stop them, depending on thefrequency, is a metallic shell. So a Farraday cage. Think of it as kind of a mesh. But it has to completely surround you look like like a cocoon. And if you have a Faraday cage that’s grounded, then the waves instead of passing through and impacting the individual, they meet the shell and they’re kind of directed around like a skin. So they pass around the individual. So you literally make a protective cocoon. Some people who suffer from hypersensitivity, they find that they have to create Faraday cages in their homes, particularly in their sleeping areas. And in some cases, it looks like a mosquito net over the bed, but it’s actually a metallic mesh.

 

How did you get involved with all this stuff?

A few years ago when my daughter came to me and said that for a school project they were looking at how some people are sensitive to Wi-Fi and how Wi-Fi should be controlled if not banned in schools, I looked into it. I did a little bit of research and of course, I found it was all in her head. It was completely something she imagined. And there was no issue whatsoever, which sadly is the situation for a lot of folks. A lot of people today who are the most expert advocates trying to raise awareness on this issue also started out in the same way, including you know epidemiologists, oncologists, medical experts et cetera. People who had no idea anything was going on. Later in talking with Maitre Charles O’Brien about the work he was doing on the class action, that’s when my interest was piqued and so I dug a little bit deeper. I dug beyond the industry-sponsored research and the lines that the mainstream want people to believe, which is basically that if it doesn’t heat it can’t hurt.

So for basically for almost a hundred years the thought has been that electromagnetic fields that are too weak to heat tissue can’t possibly cause any harm.

A cell phone is a microwave oven

So we all know what a microwave oven is, right. We all know microwave popcorn, you put popcorn in and you hit the button, pop right? What people don’t know is a lot of the communication technology we use today, a cell phone, if you tell somebody a cell phone tell them, it’s a radio they’ll say Aha. They’ll understand a cell phone is a radio. If you tell them a cell phone is a microwave oven, they’ll look at you like you’re crazy. But the reality is that the radio frequencies that cell phones work on are identical to the frequencies used by a microwave oven to pop your popcorn. The difference is the cell phone power is vanishingly tiny compared to the microwave, so it doesn’t heat. However, you’re holding the cell phone right near your brain, right near the softest the wettest, most sensitive and fragile tissue on the body. And even though it can’t heat doesn’t mean it can’t hurt. Sure a ping pong ball can’t knock a brick out of a brick wall, but the human body isn’t a static structure like a brick wall. We’re constantly rebuilding ourselves, right. So think of it as a brick wall thats constantly with a mason taking out old bricks and putting in new bricks. If you start bombarding a mason with ping pong balls while he’s trying to replace bricks, he’s not going to put the bricks in very straight. So non-ionizing radiation, microwave radiation, even low power radiation like in our telephones and our communication technologies, they may not be powerful enough to break apart the structures of our bodies. They can, however, and they do– there’s a huge amount of epidemiological and other scientific evidence–they do impact our body’s natural processes of regeneration, of growth, of signalling. And those effects can be pernicious. Maybe they don’t happen on one exposure. The people who are using cell phones for extended periods of time can have huge impacts on their health up to and including cancers.

 

[00:18:22] Wow that’s pretty shocking. And it means you’ve been working on this for what three years sort of?

 

[00:18:30] About three years.

 

[00:18:31] And what have you learned in that time? Where has your personal thinking on this issue gone? I mean other than the fact that I mean if you align satellite dishes for a living.

 

[00:18:47] What do you do for a living?

Thank you for asking. I build microwave communications technologies. I build satellites. Yes, I do. Like with so many dangerous things, distance is our friend. And so the best way to keep yourself safe from electromagnetic fields is to avoid them. Now the nature of these things is that when you move twice as far from a source, you’re exposed one quarter as much power. If you move ten times as far from a source you’re exposed to one hundredth the power. So when we think of things like cell phones, they work by putting up cell phone towers in neighbourhoods, in backyards, near schools, in church steeples. These are things that are in our community. And in order for those signals to go far enough to be useful, they have to be powerful enough that if you’re close you can be exposed to some pretty important fields. A satellite’s always 36000 kilometres away. You can’t get too close to satellite. And so rather than being something that creates an acute exposure for certain individuals, it creates a uniform exposure for everybody at a level that’s millions of times lower than what we’re talking about with the technologies we typically carry around.

[00:20:07] So yes I do build microwave communications systems for a living. And yes, I have looked at the numbers and I feel good about what I do.

[00:20:17] And but you can’t you can’t do cell phones that way can you?

[00:20:22] Today’s technologies don’t make it practicable but it comes back to one of your earlier questions. Why aren’t people doing things better or is there a better way to do things? People do stuff if they’re told to do stuff. Technologists and companies that make these systems, they have no reason to do it. For almost 100 years, everyone’s been told this is safe. Don’t worry about it. And so what happens? The regulations reflect that this is safe don’t worry about it. And the technology development and deployment reflect that this is safe, don’t worry about it. But if you were to look at where we’re living today compared to what is the natural background.

How much more radiation is there now than there was even 200 years ago?

It’s not a thousand times. It’s not a million times. It’s not a million million times. It’s one with 18 zeros after it. It’s almost unimaginable. These are levels that have never been seen. Ever. In the history of humanity, of evolution. And they’re increasing dramatically. When we went from the introduction of cell phones in the 90s and then we went 2G and 3G and 4G. Every time the background radiation in our cities is increasing thousands and thousands of times. And now people are talking about 5G, which is again a whole other technology that brings its own risks. Which risks? I can’t tell you. No one has studied them. We haven’t even identified what the 5G protocol is and deployment is set for two years time.

[00:22:08] Wow. And it seems to me I’ve heard that they’re going to be going on the Montreal Windsor corridor. Is that true?

[00:22:15] They’ll be everywhere pretty much. There are a few locations that have been identified as being key spots to bring them up to deploy initially and test it out make sure it works. There are sites all over the world. I don’t know specifics but the density of these stations will be at least ten times what today’s cell towers are. So look we are talking about before, one where to stay safe is to get farther away. You won’t be able to get farther away.

[00:22:47] All of this conversation sort of makes me think of a friend of ours who talked about isn’t it depressing being too informed about things?

[00:22:55] Ignorance is bliss.

[00:22:57] And

Is there anything people can actually do or is it too late?

[00:23:02] I think it’s never too late. There’s a lot of things people do. I mean heck, you know that I spend most of my time on my mobile phone and it’s not a question of oh my god this is dangerous, lock them all up and get rid of it. Let’s go live in caves. But it’s a question of informed consent and it’s a question of knowing what your danger is and knowing what to do about it. Do I use a microwave oven? Sure I use a microwave oven. Do I stand at the door and stare into it. No, I don’t, because that’s dangerous. Companies won’t tell you it’s dangerous, but we have examples of very high profile individuals who today are hypersensitive because they did just that. They looked in the microwave oven during an unfortunate event.

So there are things individuals, consumers and citizens can do.

Laptops

Believe it or not, laptops are not meant to go on the lap.

[00:24:07] Some of the most sensitive biology we have is our reproductive organs. They’re very fragile and they’re also poorly located for having a laptop on your lap or having a cell phone in your pocket.

These are behaviours that we can control.

Cell phones

If you’re using a cellphone,  don’t hold the to your head. Use handsfree. Use a wired headset. Text rather than talk.

Putting your phone in flight mode in airplane mode when you go to sleep or preferably keeping it far away from your bed. Because even when you’re not talking on the cell phone, it’s still chattering away. It’s checking in with the network. It’s receiving e-mails. It’s doing all kinds of stuff. It’s updating to the latest version of the Google apps or whatever. Our phones are busy little bees and if we just by turning the screen off they don’t stop. They keep doing stuff And when we’re asleep when our brains are trying to regenerate when we want our quiet time we don’t want that strobe light pulsing in the room. Put the phone in airplane mode and you’ll sleep better.

[00:25:05] OK. Actually, that reminds me of the little container that you made for me which is which I can wear around my neck so that I can listen with my wired headsets to podcasts. And what is that lined with?

[00:25:22] In the case of the pouch that I made for you and for our daughter it’s like with a metallic mesh that’s been designed to match and to block the frequencies that the phone uses. I mean cell phones are indiscriminate little communicators. They’re they’re basically little. They’re constantly talking in every direction. Now obviously the signal has to get to and from your phone or else your phone won’t work as a phone it’ll just be a pretty box on the screen but there’s no reason that those signals have to go through our bodies. And so when I saw that you were constantly using your phone all the time wearing it for listening to podcasts and things like that, I made this pouch and it hangs around your neck because you say it’s a pretty little pendant and it’s lined just on the side that faces your body. So the phone is perfectly comfortable communicating away from your body but it sort of shields the radiation from getting towards you too much.

[00:26:21] But it’s not 100 percent of course.

[00:26:23] If it was 100 percent, your phone wouldn’t work.

[00:26:27] So it’s not like a luddite you don’t want to give up my phone.

[00:26:31] No I’m not asking anybody to give up their phones. What I’m asking is for people to get informed about what the real dangers are to get informed about what their rights are and to start demanding that governments regulate real safety and that companies build devices that are truly safe.

[00:26:51] Actually there were a couple of things that I learned when we were listening to the court case hearings that kind of surprised me. One was the lawyer from Canada said that Canada regulations were not designed to keep individual Canadians safe but only can Canadians as a whole safe. Can you tell me a little bit about what you’ve learned about how we are regulated at the moment and how those regulations differ around the world? Because I understand Russia has been a little further ahead and primarily because of some of the things that happened during World War II, which I’m also investigating because of the book I’m writing.

[00:27:36] So yeah the history of EMF is fascinating and it’s you know geopolitically speaking, people first began to be aware of this stuff on or around the second world war when we first started using radar for detecting ships. And there was a condition called Radar sickness that these radio operators would suffer from. Some of them were acute cases. Now this equipment was very primitive, very indiscriminate and really really loud and people a lot of people got very very sick with it. But that’s when people started investigating and realized, hey there’s more here than meets the eye. Let’s figure out what’s making people sick and how we can control it to keep people safe. And the Russians did a lot of early work on this and they arrived at a safety level that was about 100 times lower than the level that the Western world eventually settled on as being quote-unquote safe. The level that is considered safe is a level that doesn’t heat. What does that mean? It means if you…

[00:28:49] This is in the Western countries.

[00:28:50] In the Western countries and it’s enshrined in law. Health Canada has safety code six, which is a guideline. It’s not a regulation. It doesn’t have the force of law but it’s a guideline that’s enforced in government facilities and which industry Canada uses it to set permit levels for technology vendors.

[00:29:13] And what it says is the standard for safety is based upon using a device for six minutes and having it not heat tissue more than 1 degree Celsius. There’s a safety factor tenfold or so that’s applied to do that. Somewhere between 10 and 50 depending on the circumstance. But still. That’s what’s considered safe. If it doesn’t heat, you’re all good. And that’s enshrined in Canadian statute today. Health Canada, as you said the attorney general of Canada at the authorization hearing stated quite explicitly that the mandate of Health Canada is to ensure the health of Canadians. However, Health Canada has no legal responsibility for the health of any individual. Canadian citizen. Which is a somewhat contradictory statement.

[00:30:19] But what about Russia. You said that there…Are their standards still 100 times lower?

[00:30:24] Russia standards are still significantly lower. I’m not sure if it’s 10 or 100 times at this point depends on the frequencies. And frankly, I haven’t reviewed them recently. But what we have started seeing around the world are certain countries in certain geographies and jurisdictions starting to take the matter much more seriously. Recently in France, there’s been a law that bans the use of Wi-Fi in kindergartens and that mandates that Wi-Fi used in primary schools for lessons be on a switch. So they turn on the Wi-Fi during the lesson and they have to turn it off after a lesson. And it’s all about reducing exposure and keeping children safe. Because as we’ve said the health effects, they don’t happen overnight with one exposure. They happen over time with the cumulation of exposure. And when we think about kindergartens and children they will be exposed in their life to levels way beyond anything you and I have seen. We only started using phones in the 90s, right, when we’re already adults. And so starting to expose children, as we’re now doing routinely, from infancy in some cases, creates a huge amount of cumulative exposure at a time when the biology is fragile. The children are small and the exposure is now ubiquitous. You can’t get away from it.

Baby Monitor

[00:31:53] Didn’t we actually expose our children? Didn’t we have a baby monitor that we could leave on and hear from other parts of the house like on Wi-Fi?

[00:32:00] The baby monitor that we had, because we’re old people, back at the time when our kids were little, the baby monitor we had was what we call analog. It’s kind of like an AM radio. So that’s substantially safer because of a lot of details in the way they work. But today, yes baby monitors that are available are similar to those cordless house phones. There are digital devices. They’re always on. They’re always transmitting. There are pulsed frequencies and they are among the most hazardous especially for hypersensitive individuals. But they are among the most hazardous devices you can have in your home. And unfortunately, the use of that demands that it be placed closest to the baby. So you’re taking is the most dangerous enough device you’re placing it on the nightstand next to the most fragile and precious thing that you’ve got. And nobody knows about it. Well, citizens don’t know about it. The companies do know. Because while here in North America that’s the standard, in Europe the devices have a very simple feature that’s called Sound activation. If the baby isn’t making any sound, it turns off the radio transmitter.

[00:33:16] But we don’t have that in North America?

[00:33:18] No. It’s not available in North America.

[00:33:21] You can’t even buy it in North America.

[00:33:23] You cannot even buy it in North America.

[00:33:25] Is that because it’s cheaper to produce it the other way?

[00:33:29] I haven’t looked at it in detail. There may actually be a regulatory thing. People regulate technology deployment in order to keep you safe. Government regulations that tell you what you’re allowed and not allowed to sell. I don’t believe North American regulation supports it. Now the cost. Sure maybe it costs a little more to put that sound sensing circuit in and the logic to switch it on and off. But you have pretty much identical products available in Europe and in North America almost identical packaging. The only difference is the one in Europe will shut off when the baby is not making a sound and the one in North America does not. So the company’s know.

[00:34:10] And so the one that doesn’t shut off that means always sending out those pulses.

[00:34:17] Yup.

[00:34:17] Wow That’s kind of horrifying.

House phones

[00:34:19] Just like those House phones. What we call the DCT.

[00:34:22] Oh the ones that you got rid of.

[00:34:24] Yes. Really loud, really annoying from an EMF point of view. Very dangerous and even your cell phone, when you’re travelling in your car.

[00:34:35] You ever notice that when you’re out in the country, your cell phone battery lasts not as long or when you during long trips. Well, that’s because your cell phone is doing what’s it’s constantly hopping as it’s moving in and out of cell phone coverage. It basically has to scream ‘here I am,’ ‘here I am’ to find a signal as you’re travelling or if you’re out in the country and the cell station is farther away, your phone actually boosts its power transmit power so it can scream louder to get a signal to the station. So you go out into the country to get away from electromagnetic radiation. And what does your phone do? It turns up the electromagnetic radiation in order to be able to keep working. Not his fault that’s how it was programmed. And it’s not really the programmer’s fault either. He doesn’t know. Nobody knows. It’s an industry well-kept secret.

[00:35:23] Wow.

[00:35:25] So what’s next in your adventures on this. How would you like to communicate to people about all of this? Do you have any idea of what you’re going to do next?

[00:35:38] Well there are lots of great resources out there for anyone who’s interested in the issue and I think we all should be some of them are really approachable and readable and there’s a huge wealth of scientific literature site thousands of papers dissecting expanding and investigating every aspect of EMF and health-related issues. So anyone who’s keenly interested can look into those. But there are some great Web sites including C4ST Canadians For Safe Technology set up out of Ontario that’s gathered together some great resources. There are lots of really motivated people around the world who take this issue to heart and are doing some fundamental and groundbreaking work to try and raise awareness to try and effect change in terms of the way these technologies are regulated and ultimately how they’re designed and deployed. So it’s not all doom and gloom. I think with everything it starts with education. But really it really is about people a) understanding that the dangers are not non-existent and they can be quite significant and b) gathering together and asking seeking out and assisting with our with our political leaders that the issue is real it’s something we care about and be addressed.

Do you consider yourself Canadian? And if so what does that mean to you?

[00:37:47] I’m a proud Canadian and have been since 1984 when I took my citizenship oath. You know I wasn’t born here I’ve been in Montreal pretty much all my life and it’s the only country I’ve ever known. So for sure, I’m Canadian. I still have a very strong heritage from my birth country of Portugal and I’m very proud of that too. But being a Canadian means never having to say you’re sorry.

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