A watchdog in need of a leash

Ontario College of Physicians manipulates consultation process

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Protection of Conscience Project

It appears that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is manipulating its consultation process to support a controversial draft policy intended to force doctors to do what they believe to be wrong.

The College is intervening in a Discussion Forum about Professional Obligations and Human Rights (POHR), apparently to discredit critics and defend the policy. The Forum is supposed to be used by the public to provide feedback on the policy, and to post emails and written submissions the College receives from the public.

But on 29 January the College posted a comment accusing Professor Margaret Somerville of misrepresenting its policy in a National Post column. The comment included a link to a letter to the National Post from College President, Dr. Carol Leet.

Not content with interfering in the consultation by posting its own statement, the College impersonated anonymous forum participants and used its statement to reply to comments supporting Professor Somerville’s “modest proposal.”

Someone at the College seems to have had second thoughts about impersonating participants, because the replies were revised a couple of days later to identify the College as the author. But the purported correction of participant responses still violates College policy.

Sean Murphy, Administrator of the Protection of Conscience Project, thinks College officials are interfering in the consultation because they are afraid that more people will begin to realize what the draft policy really means.

“In her National Post column, Professor Somerville succinctly critiqued the draft policy, and offered a reasonable alternative,” he said. “If Dr. Leet disagreed, she was within her rights to write a letter to the editor.”

“But,” he added, “interfering in the consultation process is unacceptable.”

Murphy observed that the College is supposed to be the watchdog protecting the public and profession from unethical conduct.

“It seems this watchdog needs a leash.”

For details, see A watchdog in need of a leash: Ontario College of Physicians manipulates consultation process

One thought on “A watchdog in need of a leash”

  1. On 2015-02-9 the College responded as follows:
    We have read your Blog article that questions the College’s consultation process and insertion of comments on the Discussion Board. As with any policy consultation, the College will at times respond to feedback received on the discussion page to provide consultation participants and readers with further information and/or clarification. In this case, a quote, published in the National Post was falsely attributed to a College spokesperson. Where this National Post article is mentioned on the Discussion Board, we have pointed readers to our formal response, which was sent to the National Post. An administrative error, which initially labelled these posts as “anonymous” has been corrected. The posts have now been appropriately labeled as authored by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

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