MP Dan Albas says discussing 5G with constituents can be challenging, sometimes due to conspiracy theories

'Conspiracy' 5G discussions

Member of Parliament for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola Dan Albas has expressed some of the difficulties he has faced discussing 5G with constituents, some of whom he described as subscribing to conspiracy theories. 

At a Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board meeting Thursday, Albas addressed questions about how the federal government is progressing with the technology. The RDOS is split north to south between two federal electoral ridings, with MP Richard Cannings the elected member of the more easterly municipalities. Albas also represents West Kelowna. 

Cannings addressed the board on the same topic two weeks ago

Albas shared some personal experience with 5G questions and education when it comes to health effects, which he called "challenging." 

"I will say that I've talked to many constituents who have raised certain studies, and it can be challenging for an elected official to have a conversation. I have had people that want to discuss certain concerns in the context of a broader conspiracy," Albas said. 

He recounted a recent conversation with "a very nice gentlemen" that unfortunately was not productive. 

"He said, 'Dan I want you to listen to the REAL scientists, not these ones that have been bought off by the industry or by government,’” Albas said. “It’s very difficult to have a conversation when [people cite] ‘real’ scientists,” who are often just cherry-picked because their studies back up the person’s personal beliefs.

"Democracy means having a say, and listening to people and I try to do that,”  Albas said. “This is an area that can be very, very difficult for elected officials."

Board chair Karla Kozakevich agreed it is a challenging topic. 

"One side presents a scientific study that says its safe and they other side presents a study that says it’s not safe,” Kozakevich said. 

Albas stressed the importance of staying informed about all aspects of the 5G debate when it comes to health — rather, the body of peer-reviewed studies overall will help guide eventual decisions on the topic. 

"No one individual scientific study, considered in isolation can prove or disprove the existence of an adverse health effect," Albas said.

Albas also fielded questions from rural directors, whose communities already struggle with reliable internet access, about whether a 5G technology would leave them further in the dust — a concern he shared. 

"My concern is that you will see certain parts of the economy will be able to take certain advantages [of 5G tech] while the rest of the country does without,” Albas said, explaining he hopes the federal government will focus on rural areas first when new high speed internet options arrive.

“When you’re dealing with a problem you start with those most in need.” 

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