Russell Wangersky: A Conservative wolf in sealskin clothes
In St. John’s on Thursday morning, Tory leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary slipped into an apparently borrowed sealskin coat to make one more connection when speaking with the locals.
Rebuttal to Mr. Veldhoven’s factually bankrupt Open Letter, dated March 8.
While I do agree with your assertion that we are all to be presumed innocent, I take very strong issue with both your recent missive, and the Nova Scotia Health Authority's absolute silence in the misguided wake of your inexcusable rant.
To begin with, let us refer to this event by its correct name. It is not a dispute between the Westside Medical Clinic and a disgruntled ex-employee. Using the word "dispute" certainly leaves the impression of some form of disagreement, which could, given a talented mediator, be resolved in some manner which could be construed as being beneficial to both parties. It all sounds so nice and clean, almost clinical, if you will pardon the pun. What this is, and has always been, is a criminal case which involves at least one female victim and possibly more, who have been traumatized due to the serious offences perpetrated against them: to wit, they have been sexually violated by having been filmed in a private situation without their knowledge or permission. It also involves
a criminal who perpetrated this heinous crime. As the accused has not been found guilty, we are left to go on only the assumption at this point that the accused has been placed into this position because the police have sufficient evidence to indicate his guilt in said crime. It will be up to a court to verify this evidence and either follow through with a
guilty or not-guilty verdict. To call this a "dispute" is to equate this with a benign disagreement between parties. The deliberate sanitization of this heinous crime by referring to it as a dispute serves to minimize and marginalize the suffering of the victim or victims.
The second major issue I have with your letter, is your characterization of the accused's dismissal from the clinic, and reference to the clinic's "unprofessional code of conduct". Within 24 hours of the charges having been laid against the accused, his medical license was temporarily suspended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, as is required by the code of conduct under which the accused was required to operate. The Westside Medical Clinic had nothing to with this decision. In the immediate aftermath of this decision, it would have been the role of the NSHA to instruct the Westside Medical Clinic to continue accepting his patients until a more permanent decision was made as to his suspension. Once the suspension was lifted (with the provision that a chaperone be present at all times when he is with a patient, with the
exception of surgery) the NSHA would have given the directive to the Westside Medical Clinic to stop seeing the patients of the accused. In other words, the decision to bar access to the Clinic for these patients would have been made by the NSHA, not the Westside Medical Clinic. According to an article on this subject published by ngnews.ca on March
7, 2017 ".....the health authority was supposed to have notified patients" but to date, many patients haven¹t received any such notification from the NSHA. They should never have directed the clinic to keep the accused's patients in rotation early on in this situation in the
first place seeing that the remaining practices at the Westside Medical Clinic are likely full, given the doctor shortage in Nova Scotia. At any rate, immediately following the suspension of the accused¹s medical license, the NSHA should have informed his patients that they now needed to put themselves on waiting lists for other physicians, or wait for the possibility of the accused's license being reinstated. Instead, they waited too long to make the decision, and made no effort to inform the patients of the new circumstance. To put any blame on the Westside Medical Clinic for the handling of this situation is simply wrong.
Thirdly, you seem to imply in your assertion that there should be no rush to judgement, that there should have been no action taken against the accused until a court finds him guilty. That is quite simply naive and wrong. In a serious case such as this, the needs of the victim(s) must be weighed against the rights of the accused. If the accused were to be
allowed to continue practicing at the clinic where he is accused of committing this crime, the victims get to be and feel victimized all over again, regardless of whether the accused is guilty or innocent. Where there is sufficient evidence to charge an individual with a crime, there is a duty to protect previous and potential future victims from being violated in a similar way. Presumption of innocence in a legal sense does not mean that we are to assume that an individual being charged with a crime is a wrongfully accused innocent individual. Rather, this presumption is meant to put the onus on the Government to prove that an individual is guilty, rather than have the accused prove his innocence. The purpose of this clause is not to convince us to suspend judgement and rational thought. As an example, if your child's teacher was accused of molesting students, would you want them to remain in their position of authority over your child while you waited for the courts to settle the matter? I put it to you that you would want your child's welfare protected above all else. That is why this incident at the Westside Medical Clinic has been handled in this manner, as are all similar cases.
Your letter is quite simply the rambling of someone who is upset that he is being inconvenienced. Because of your self-righteous attitude (and the attitudes of other similarly uninformed, willfully ignorant misanthropes such as yourself), the victims at this clinic have now been cast in a negative eye, for it is the very victims of this crime who are the employees you and others are blaming for the current state of things. From all available evidence, which is readily available from news articles and police statements, it is obvious that the wrong people are receiving the brunt of the blame.
Remember as well that this man was loved and respected not only by his patients, but by his fellow workers and colleagues as well. How do you think they feel seeing that this person they worked with, trusted, maybe even considered a close friend, is the one being accused of committing these reprehensible acts? I for one imagine it makes it that much more painful.
Finally, I have a rebuke for the Nova Scotia Health Authority. They are undoubtedly aware of the current situation concerning both employees and displaced patients at the Westside Medical Clinic, and that it is entirely due to actions and avoidance of actions on their part. The clinic would have no authority on how to handle the accused's patients in
this matter. Rather, it would have been imposed upon them by the NSHA. As well, the duty to inform patients of this move in a timely manner was the sole responsibility of the NSHA, a duty they utterly failed to perform. Thus, the clinic has taken the brunt of negative public opinion, as expressed in the factually bankrupt letter to the editor to which this writing is a response. Shame on the NSHA for their cowardice, and their lack of willingness to own up to this unfortunate situation of their own creation. Your employees need and deserve a response from you and you are failing them, and ultimately the entire community, with your stunning lack of a response. Sometimes silence speaks louder than words. Perhaps the time has come to break the silence.