Leitch must uphold ethics: MDs

Hundreds of health professionals are urging a doctor-turned-Conservative MP to honour her medical oath and work against Canada’s controversial asbestos industry.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Conservative MP Kellie Leitch after being sworn in during a ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Conservative MP Kellie Leitch after being sworn in during a ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Hundreds of health professionals are urging a doctor-turned-Conservative MP to honour her medical oath and work against Canada’s controversial asbestos industry.

An open letter signed by some 250 medical doctors and public-health professionals was sent Thursday to Dr. Kellie Leitch, a prominent pediatric orthopedic surgeon elected last spring as a Tory.

The letter writers say Leitch has a duty to influence her Conservative colleagues to pull the plug on a sector they say will spread deadly disease in poorer countries.

The Conservative Party is the only federal party that supports the asbestos industry.

“We understand that doing the right thing may run counter to your political interests,” reads the letter from Canadian and international signatories as well as more than 20 organizations.

“However, your ethical code of conduct as a medical doctor requires that you put the protection of health ahead of personal advantage, no matter what the circumstance.”

The newly elected MP for the central Ontario riding of Simcoe-Grey was a star candidate for the Conservatives in the last federal election.

Leitch was an associate professor of surgery at the University of Toronto and earned the Order of Ontario for her medical contributions — particularly for her work in children’s health.

Leitch’s office said she was unavailable for comment and referred questions on the matter to the minister of natural resources.

The Conservatives — led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper — have been vocal supporters of Canada’s asbestos industry, which ships the vast majority of its product to poorer nations.

The Tories have long maintained that Canada’s chrysotile asbestos is safe when handled properly.

But the letter’s signatories, including physicians from prestigious universities such as Harvard and Columbia, argue there are no regulations in poorer countries to protect people from the harmful effects of the hazardous substance.

“These double standards are just really unethical,” said signer Dr. Gilles Paradis, a professor of medicine at McGill University and the science editor for the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

“It’s an easy thing to do for governments because it’s a no-lose situation for them because they can be seen as defending Canadian jobs… and the disease, disabilities, the deaths that result from the use of asbestos occur far away.”

The letter also notes the federal government has spent millions of dollars to remove asbestos from Canadian buildings in order to protect lives — including around the House of Commons.

It notes that the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Public Health Association and World Health Organization have all called for the use of asbestos to be stopped.

Paradis hopes the message will get through to Leitch, who he believes has the credibility to speak up and influence her party to end its support for a sputtering sector that’s centred in central Quebec.

“As a physician, we’re sure that she knows the incontrovertible evidence about the harm that chrysotile asbestos produces,” Paradis said.

“We just want to remind her that she has a professional duty to live by the principles of the Hippocratic oath that as physicians we all are supposed to adhere to.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
A Quebec Superior Court justice is set to issue a ruling Tuesday on the constitutionality of the province’s secularism law, known as Bill 21. People hold up signs during a demonstration against Bill 21 in Montreal, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Quebec judge to rule today on challenge to Quebec’s secularism law, known as Bill 21

Four separate lawsuits challenging Bill 21 merged into one trial

Nearly five per cent of Alberta businesses did not survive the first 10 months of the pandemic. (Black Press File photo).
Nearly 5% of Alberta businesses closed during 2020 pandemic

Will more closures happen before it’s over?

Red Deer Rebels forward Arshdeep Bains eyes a loose puck in front of the Medicine Hat Tigers net Saturday night in WHL action at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels fall short in 12th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 (Saturday) Tigers 3 Rebels 2 (Monday) The Red… Continue reading

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Letters
Letter: Restrictions have nothing to do with religion

Many have framed the closure of GraceLife Church near Edmonton by Alberta… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Thanking volunteers in Red Deer

National Volunteer Week is April 18 to 24. At the Canadian Cancer… Continue reading

Letter to the editor
Letter: Good on MLAs for speaking out

This is a letter in regard to MLAs not standing united behind… Continue reading

Treena Mielke
Family: Happiness can be found in many ways

I’ve heard it said that necessity is the mother of invention. I… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown, right, scores on Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during second-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women's international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Priestman says her goal is to help Canada move up the Olympic podium after back-to-back bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rui Vieira
Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Canada's Brendan Bottcher dropped a 6-3 decision to Scotland's Bruce Mouat in the men's final of the Humpty's Champions Cup. Bottcher makes a shot against Scotland at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

Most Read