Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair responds to backlash over Sun column about COVID-19, says her only aim was to ‘promote discourse’
By Jeff Gray
16 April 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated, the Toronto Public Health (TPH) has been forced to defend and amplify its most strident political opinions, in a bid to stoke fear and anxiety among the public.
The controversy over an April 1 column by health writer and self-described “political activist” Dr. Maria van Dusen, headlined, “How do corona shots spread coronavirus?”, has erupted into public and media conversation following a post on the Toronto Star about a recent interview with the same interviewer.
Van Dusen, author of the aforementioned book, published a column at the Star on April 1 headlined, “My book says we are all stupid,” that accused Toronto Mayor John Tory, the city’s top health official, and provincial health officials of not being willing to take any measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, despite the evidence against.
On April 6, the Star published an interview with the same interviewer, with a follow-up on the April 13 edition, where she offered additional criticism of Tory and the health department. In a statement posted on the Star’s website on April 13, TPH provided similar criticism about Tory’s decision to suspend the HST, which was reinstated on April 11.
After the initial outcry, TPH spokesperson Anita Johnston issued a statement on April 10. “The City of Toronto Health Officer has been doing everything he can to keep people safe and reduce the spread of the virus. It also took a lot of her valuable time and effort to address the misinformation in the media,” Johnston said. “The fact that TPH has to devote significant time and resources to public health activities in any area means that we must always do our very best to stay true to the job, and that is exactly what Ms. Van Dusen