Grandmother gets MPs' attention on wireless safety

Wendy Hoy, an Ontario grandmother who walked 800 kilometres in 9 weeks demonstrates the safe way to communicate with a cell phone on the steps of Parliament Hill in Ottawa Nov 22, 2012.

Credits: Andre Forget/QMI Agency


OTTAWA - An Ontario grandmother walked to Parliament Hill on Thursday to complete an 800-kilometre journey to raise awareness about the potential dangers of wireless devices.

Wendy Hoy, 57, spent 62 days walking from London, Ont., to Ottawa to educate Ontarians about safety concerns linked to radiation emitted by wireless technologies including cell towers, Wi-Fi and cellphones.

In 2011, the World Health Organization classified the radiation from all wireless devices as "possibly carcinogenic" but Hoy says many Canadians are still unaware of possible risks.

Hoy's mission caught the attention of several elected officials including Conservative MP Terence Young, NDP MP Carole Hughes and independent MP Bruce Hyer.

Her arrival in Ottawa was also timed to coincide with the national launch of Citizens for Safe Technology - a new organization led by former Microsoft Canada president Frank Clegg.

Clegg, who is regarded as a pioneer in the emergence of Canada's technology sector, launched the organization to spread consumer tips and information.

He said most people are unaware, for example, that BlackBerry and Apple device manuals feature fine print warnings advising users to keep all devices at least 15 mm away from the body during use.

"It is no different than tobacco was 20 or 30 years ago," he said. "It is about education. It is about awareness."

Clegg also wants the government to take a look at existing industry guidelines which haven't been updated despite emerging scientific information.

A new Nanos Research poll, which surveyed 1,000 Canadians, found 70% of participants were aware of possible health effects linked to wireless technologies and 47% were most concerned about cellphones.

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