It might give more strength to Canada Health's side to release the report of Alberta Health. It seems that they fear a critical analysis of the report. This is just the sort of situation accused terrorists face. They cannot see the evidence against them. Is the release of the report a threat to National Security since it might threaten Oil Sands development!
Oilsands-area hamlet supports whistleblower MD
Physician raised concerns about high cancer rates downstream from oil projects
Last Updated: Monday, March 5, 2007 | 6:39 AM ET
A small Alberta community is rallying behind a local doctor they believe is being silenced by Health Canada because he raised concerns about high rates of cancer near the booming oilsands.
Health Canada officials have filed a complaint against Dr. John O'Connor.
O'Connor alerted the media last year to a what he believed was a disproportionately high incidence of colon, liver, blood and bile-duct cancers in patients who live in Fort Chipewyan, a small community downstream from major petroleum refineries.
In filing the complaint against O'Connor with the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons, Health Canada did not explain the action, but said the doctor was causing undue harm.
Meanwhile, physicians who work alongside O'Connor in Fort Chipewyan believe officials are targeting their colleague because his comments potentially threaten billions of dollars of investment in the province's oilsands.
"I am absolutely shocked that they would treat a physicians of this calibre like this. There's a deliberate attempt to beat him down or shut him up," the area's head nurse, George MacDonald, said.
Since O'Connor spoke to the media last year, Alberta Health followed up on his concerns and did an analysis of the community. Although the ministry refused to release its report, a version obtained by the CBC shows O'Connor was mostly right — there are more cases than normal of liver, bile duct, colon cancer and cancers of the blood.
But the numbers are not as high as he thought, and Alberta Health says the rates are not statistically high enough to be any cause for concern.
Community physicians want to know if that's true. The Nunee Health Authority believes one way to find out is to conduct more thorough health studies, not attack its doctor.
"It really upsets me because it's just not right. He's standing up for us," said Donna Cyprian, who works at the health authority.
John Rigny, a patient of O'Connor's for years, said the people in Fort Chipewyan have long asked for a comprehensive health study.
Dr. Michel Sauvé, who heads the intensive care unit in Fort McMurray where O'Connor is based — he flies in to Fort Chipewyan on Tuesdays and Wednesdays — said doctors who identify potential public health problems should be protected rather than punished.
"Obviously, we need some whistleblower protection, some laws that will banish these kinds of repressive censorship. Punishing and trying to single out a physician to shut him up is not in the public interest," he said.
O'Connor's lawyer say he is not speaking to the media until the complaint is resolved.