Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair responds to backlash over Sun column about COVID-19, says her only aim was to ‘promote discourse’
On Wednesday afternoon, a Toronto Sun editorial published a column by a public health doctor who had never worked in the field for several reasons — one of them being that he had been reprimanded, and suspended, by his medical school for failing to uphold a number of mandatory professional standards and professional protocols and codes of conduct.
The column was part of the newspaper’s daily, ongoing coverage of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Toronto and the rest of Canada. It was not meant as a piece of opinion or commentary but as an effort to “promote discourse” on the epidemic.
But the response to the Sun’s editorial has been swift and intense in the form of a petition (PDF) demanding that the newspaper’s publisher, Toronto Star media, and editor, Richard Zussman, publish a correction and a clarification denying that Dr. Saeed Amiry was suspended or reprimanded. Also demanding the correction of the Sun’s omission of the word “pending” when discussing his medical credentials during an April 24 press conference.
“This was not a press conference, and never will be,” Amiry told The Post in a telephone interview. “It has been a month ago, and the media is already trying to take a bite out of the story. I’ve talked to reporters over the past few days, and it is not the truth, and there will be correction.”
The Sun published the column because the public health department had made an error in its public statement that the doctor was suspended after he had been reprimanded by the medical school.
“It is a matter of public record that he was reprimanded because he failed to uphold certain standards and professional ethics,” he said.
Amiry said he was never reprimanded by the medical school.
“That is not what they said,” he said. Amiry referred to the press conference in which he was chastised for failing to hold himself to the highest standards.
Although there were many questions in the Sun’s editorial about how he managed to miss a few crucial hours on the front lines fighting the coronavirus, Amiry said he had been focused on getting the virus