Anti-Wifi Group Granted Ability to File Representative Complaint with B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

It sees you when you're sleeping. It knows if you're awake. It knows if you've been a naughty, dirty boy so get off the grid for goodness sake!

The anti-wifi group, Citizens for Safe Technology (CST) has filed a complaint with the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal alleging that B.C. Hydro’s plan to install Smart Meters discriminates against those with “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” (EHS) on the basis of physical disability. The group has been granted the ability to file a “representative complaint” and argue the case on behalf of others in the class.

On its website, CST makes all sorts of claims about the dangers of Smart Meters and related technologies. For example, they claim that Smart Meters are a serious invasion of privacy, allowing hackers and other evil doers useful information for planning crimes against occupants, or even the ability to monitor sexual activity – somehow. They also claim that Smart Meters are vulnerable to terrorism, have caused explosions and fires, and cause electricity bills to go up. However, the main thrust of the anti-Smart Meter campaign is the baseless fear that the wireless technology they use is universally harmful to health. All these other claims are more of an attempt to plant the seeds of doubt in everyone’s mind that Smart Meters are a really, really bad idea. You might think the notion that Smart Meters can make you sick absolutely nutty, but you might not like the utility knowing when you turn on your toaster oven (though I doubt this is possible). There’s a basis for outrage to suit any taste.

The latest decision by the B.C Human Rights is being touted by CST as a win even though the current decision makes absolutely no findings of fact regarding the discrimination claim. Nor does it make any pronouncement about the nature of EHS or its status as a disability. All it does is allow them the chance to represent others in court.

A careful reading of the Tribunal decision indicates that the group is probably going to have some trouble. First, the Tribunal severely restricted the scope of the class that CST is to represent. The group wished to speak for those who have been given a doctors note indicating that they should avoid Smart Meters “for reasons of illness and/or disability”. The Tribunal considered the class far too broad:

In summary, the class, as defined, is overbroad. However, a class restricted to those persons allegedly diagnosed with EHS and who have been advised to avoid exposure to wireless technology would be appropriate as a representative complaint.

 The question of whether EHS is a physical disability will also need to be established by CST:

I also note in this regard that the disability, or particulars of the medical condition, must be specified. A vague and medically-unsubstantiated reference by a physician to avoid wireless technology is insufficient to constitute a disability. There must be a medical diagnosis, as well as a contraindication for exposure to such technology because of its effect on the medical condition. (Emphasis mine.)

CST claims that a substantial number of people in B.C. have proof from a licensed Canadian physician of medical harm with a concomitant advisement to avoid Smart Meters. This is incredibly interesting, since there is no good evidence that Smart Meters are in the least bit dangerous to anyone. How many people are we talking about? In a statement to the media the director of CST, Una St Clair, claimed that she has a list of 100 people with “medical proof”. The Tribunal document indicates that CST claimed it could produce “dozens” of people who would fit into their definition of the class (not the one ultimately outlined). Interstingly, B.C. Hydro contended that the class boils down to about 45 people who object to the installation of Smart Meters and many of these have unspecified medical conditions.

With the Tribunal restriction of the class, only the people that CST can produce with a specific medical diagnosis of EHS from a licensed Canadian physician, who are also advised to specifically avoid wireless technology are relevant. Who are these licensed physicians and how would they be coming to a diagnosis? Well, it turns out that when CST first filed their complaint with the Tribunal, they decided to collect notes from alleged victims and their doctors to support their allegations. To ensure they had the evidence they needed, a “Doctor’s Information Package” was put together with informational links (most back to the CST site), advice on how to coax a doctor into producing the needed note, as well as explicit instructions on how such notes should be worded:

Wording that can be used:

I have advised my patient that he/she should not have a smart meter attached to his/her house or on his/her property (resident or residential complex). He/she has medical conditions that could be aggravated/worsened by ongoing exposure to wireless radiofrequency electromagnetic fields and Smart Meter emissions.

OR

 I am confirming that my advice to you for reason of your medical condition is to avoid residing in a residence or residential complex at which a wireless smart meter device is operating.

OR

My patient is advised to reduce exposure to all types of wireless radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation, specifically including that which is emitted from Smart Meters at his/her home and property, as this may adversely affect his/her condition.

OR

My patient is advised for medical reasons to avoid having wireless smart meters on his/her house and property (resident or residential complex) to maintain his/her health.

It appears that CST didn’t anticipate the Tribunal rejecting the proposed class as overbroad and so did not advise potential participants that the notes should clearly outline a diagnosis of any sort. Or perhaps, the tactic was deliberate – vague references to medical conditions are harder to scrutinize than named conditions that can be contested.

Uh oh. Looks like these folks are going to have to scramble to find doctors willing to give a specific diagnosis of EHS even though it’s not a thing. The fact that the group prodded members into approaching their doctors with information pulled from the internet in hand, and a request to provide a vague note with pre-approved wording for a legal proceeding speaks volumes. If EHS was a valid diagnosis with scientific support, the doctor could easily have determined this themselves by searching the available medical literature. Thankfully, the Tribunal seems to have caught on to the tactic.

Now, in order for the case to go forward, CST must amend the original complaint to reflect the more restricted class and must do so within 30 days. Even if they do this, B.C. Hydro can petition the Tribunal to dismiss the complaint, at which point CST will have to pony up the medical proof that EHS is areal physical disability.

The CST hopes to win the discrimination case and use it as the basis for a class action lawsuit against B.C Hydro. Note that they have yet to file this tort action. They confusingly refer to the Human Rights Tribunal as a class action. It isn’t. Also, the fact that the Tribunal will hear the case doesn’t say anything about the actual truth of any of the claims made against Smart Meters – medical or otherwise (I say this because I can hear some of you out there objecting and saying “Well, there must be something to what they’re saying or else why would they bother to hear the case?”). The Citizens for Safe Technology will still have to prove their case in court and they are on notice as to the kind of evidence they need to bring. Let’s hope that the B.C Hydro legal team is on the ball and brings the full weight of the scientific evidence to bear against these baseless allegations.

Worse than Hitler on bath salts.

19 Responses to “Anti-Wifi Group Granted Ability to File Representative Complaint with B.C. Human Rights Tribunal”

  1. Bryan says:

    the fact that the Tribunal will hear the case doesn’t say anything about the actual truth of any of the claims made against Smart Meters
    Exactly. In fact, given the activities of Canada’s various human rights tribunals over the past few years, the fact they are hearing it means – science aside – that in all likelihood the claim is false.

  2. Shawn Wilson says:

    “or even the ability to monitor sexual activity – somehow.”

    The power signature from dimming the lights and putting on some R&B?

  3. deever says:

    Is there hope that the skeptickook crowd get on the ball and bring to bear real analytical and skeptical faculties re the well-established dangers of wireless? Not based on what this writer puts out, whatever tribunal goings on.

    • The only well established dangers of wireless that I am aware of are talking or texting on a wireless device at inappropriate times (e.g. while driving or walking across a busy street).

      • deever says:

        Did I encounter you once at your blogsite as an aggressive ignoramus?

        How does paramount concern for “well established” square with skepticism?

      • Dianne Sousa says:

        Deever,

        Name calling gets you nowhere these days. Any 8 year old could tell you that.

        You are welcome to discuss the topic at hand, but at this point you’re only being belligerent.

      • deever says:

        Sousa,
        I have been called names on this august website, no name-callers penalized. I have discussed the topics at hand numerous times and at length, almost no evidence of honestly taking up what was offered. I get where skeptos are at. I do have a concern for impressionables you might affect negatively. A glance at your site shows all kinds of similar stances to the ones taken re wireless dangers. Look at Underhay’s site post on acupuncture I looked up. I can’t be bothered with all your approach to all the rest. Wireless dangers, after all, are the most pressing & pervasive, and as part of general human abuse of the spectrum, why I go at it. It is useful quickly to call you skeptos out on gross omissions and inconsistencies, which I do as I find out about such goings on. Like Kruse & co’s recently advertised attempt to psychologize about motivations of wireless opponents. That’s a useful enterprise, have fun with distractions, I won’t bother psychologizing about skepto “logic”.

        You want to know what’s happening for real re smart meters? Ontario was the 1st major area to swallow the intl. smart grid push, 1st big roller-out. Utiliites totally in the dark about what the meters are putting out, regularly lying or ignorantly grossly understating rf output. Same happening all over, esp. notably in Calif., where bad guys at Pacific Gas & Electric were ordered by a court to disclose just what was coming off their meters: not the few (even dangerous these) bursts daily for actual usage data transmission, but up to 100s of 1000s as the meters play mesh-related games. Why should it take court orders to come clean? What’s there to hide? Toronto Hydro & now HydroOne are testing their own meters after numerous complaints even by complacent Ontarians (note the ant-meter ferment in QC, where they have held special hearings on topic; see notable testimony by senior public health authority Carpenter at their Régie in May, and contrast with Trottier & co’s group letter).

        How you all can be at least vaguely aware of the long litany of public health disasters of the past century, profess exercise of critical faculties, and yet still defer to culturally or grossly co-opted authorities…

      • Dianne Sousa says:

        Deever,

        Oh I see you’re belligerent because you’re worried about the people who may be affected negatively by the simple act of considering what we have to say. You do it for all the “impressionables”. How noble of you.

        It appears more as though you comment here only to enjoy the sight of your own ramblings, barely making an effort to remain on topic. You’re not only wrong, you’re condescending and obnoxious in the process.

    • deever says:

      I won’t say what I think of you, Diane. But as I posted at another spot here, not a good path to go on, your continual silly belittling of emf dangers, what with the crescendo of independent-minded, scientists and others, speaking in ways contrary to your own. And on another contrary, so far from preoccupation with the “sight of my own ramblings”, I see the snowballing results of the advocacy of so many, which coupled with the ever-increasing obviously manmade emf-induced suffering, make for too gradual but definite positive shift in public awareness, Trottier & you all notwithstanding.

      Why don’t you dare to argue out substance? To follow up on research lines suggested? Why rest content with your “authorities”, why, skeptos? Does it have to always be surface-skimming, and blocking out of lines of uncomfortable evidence?

      Will skeptos feel remorse when even their authorities turn, against which turning they have been insistent cheerleaders? We rather doubt it.

  4. Blondin says:

    Many years ago (mid 70s) I had a tour of the sewage treatment facility in Winnipeg. I distinctly remember our guide remarking that they could tell which areas of the city were watching Hockey Night in Canada because of the spike in volume of effluent that occurred when ever a commercial came on.

    I felt this was a blatant invasion of privacy so I contacted the city engineering department and insisted they must find a way to balance the flow of effluent in order to eliminate the possibility of extrapolating information about personal habits of their customers.

    I got a reply from the city sewer & water superintendent. He said he wasn’t taking any more crap from me.

  5. @ deever – Did I encounter you once at your blogsite as an aggressive ignoramus?

    Yes you did, and I’ll leave the grammar police to dissect your statement.

    As far as your comments above, you seem to use a lot of blanket accusations with no evidence to support your claims. If you do have evidence, please present it in a form that we can follow.

    • deever says:

      i doubt i did not give any evidence back when as aggressive ignoramus, which you must have passively ignored

      find out on your own, even on various skepicnorth webpages, grammarians notwithstanding

      • If you don’t agree with what has been written, please show us the relevant information that counters the arguments here. Being aggressive and demanding someone else to do the research, doesn’t help your cause any.

      • deever says:

        Ask your author what she could possibly intend by, “no good evidence”.

        As for doctors “searching the available medical literature”, there is a beginning for everything that makes its way into the mainstream that skeptos shill for (shill for mainstream, that is, Underhay, in case it is not obvious): The Austrian Medical Assn. has been the recent first to put out a protocol for diagnosis & treatment of EHS. In France, ARTAC (D. Belpomme et al) is another mainstream MD org dealing with EHS. researching, treating, and is unequivocal that the syndrome is real and EMF-caused (they make important distinctions usually missing from anglo bandying about terms like ‘ehs’). The Amer. Acad. of Enviro. Med. has come out against rf-emitting smart meters. Read Dr Carpenter’s submission to the QC Régie that I already mentioned.

        As for relevance to human rights tribunals, on the Can. Human Rights Comm. site there is available a paper which includes electrosensitivity as a matter for consideration re discrimination.

        This is merely the beginning and what quickly comes to mind as directly relevant to the object of Sousa’s attempted mockery.

        EHS is a problematic term, I usually avoid it, but not for skeptos’ reasons. Whether these BC-ians have chosen an effective route for redress is an open question. But the issue of deleterious effects of manmade EMF is so obviously in accordance with these BC complainants, once even a handful of the mountainous evidence of all sorts is considered by minds truly skeptical of mainstream agencies “skeptos” uncritically rely on.

  6. For those of us who are ‘skeptos’ as you so derisively call us, it generally takes considerable evidence to change our positions. This can be a study or analysis with overwhelming evidence or a steady body of work that builds in a particular direction. So far, that type of evidence is lacking in the diagnosis of electro-sensitivity.

    The bit of searching on those items you list mostly lead to Havas’ site, and her work has been thoroughly debunked. Some links to the specific papers would be helpful.

    • deever says:

      The derision is brought about in part by skeptos’ minimizing or dismissing just so many rational articulate citizens’ conclusions worldwide about the clear connexion of manmade rf to their suffering; by simplistic reliance on mainstream panels and bodies, that in the face of a long history of public health travesties where similarly citizen complaint and minority science cried aloud for attention, until it was so late so much harm had been done; by obliviousness or deliberate ignoring of corruption in and around science, well-documented; by the malaprop, ‘skeptic’, when someone like you openly admits as above relative intransigence based not on closer to first-hand examination of evidence, but too convenient trust in whatever authority. Shall I continue?

      As for Havas, she is a heroine in all this, for sticking it out despite the continual onslaught. A true and honest and generous skeptic out to do public good, would amend whatever problems presented by a non-specialist like Havas, and seek not the weakest but strongest or most suggestive parts of what she brings.

      “Electro-sensitivity” has been poorly tested for in most experimentation, treating humans as some kind of on-off switch. If in a way this is akin to allergic reaction, ask an intelligent allergist about testing protocols, patience and bio-variability included. Yet in those flawed studies there have indeed been the a few who demonstrated uncanny ability to tell when rf was on/off. So what does the experimenter commonly do? Average out the interesting results. Real dumb-like.

      You’ll have to study on your own, even starting with references aplenty on these skeptocnorth pages of this past year or so. Shills for status quo is what we see in skeptos. Creativity scorned. Blinkered admission of evidence. Apologists for modernist mania. And so on.

      • Doubting Thomas says:

        I was thinking about replying to Deever’s comment – but then I realized I don’t really know what he is talking about. Of course neither does he. I tried Google Translate, but they don’t talk Deever either. So, I will just say – keep up the good work Dianne!

      • Jackson says:

        Hm, even IF he has something to supply to the issue, Deever seems to *like* to be misunderstood, imho.

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  • Dianne Sousa

    Dianne holds a degree from the University of Guelph in criminal justice, public policy and social psychology. She became involved in the skeptical movement after becoming disillusioned with the addictions counselling field. Skeptical topics of interest include alternative medicine and it's regulation in Canada, pseudoscience and the law and skeptical activism. She also crochets extensively and enjoys bad film, usually at the same time. Follow me on twitter: @DianneSousa. All views expressed by Dianne are her personal views alone, and do not represent the opinions of any current, former or future employers, or any organizations or associations that she may be affiliated with.