‘Bullying of public health officials must stop,’ says medical group

Dr Kami Kandola, the NWT's chief public health officer
Dr Kami Kandola, the NWT's chief public health officer. Pat Kane/Pat Kane Photo

“The bullying of public health officials must stop immediately,” one of Canada’s leading medical groups declared as the NWT’s chief public health officer faced threats by phone.

The president of the Canadian Medical Association, which represents tens of thousands of physicians and medical students, expressed grave concern at some of the harassment being reported.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, this worrying phenomenon has escalated,” Dr Ann Collins wrote on the association’s website.

“What began as online harassment has evolved into threats and in-person intimidation. We have seen protests at the private residences of Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer of health and Quebec’s national public health officer.”



An Alberta man was charged in the past week after police said he placed a call to the office of Dr Kami Kandola, the NWT’s chief public health officer, during which threats against Dr Kandola were made.

Clinton Leussink, 28, is due in court on February 16.

“It was very concerning to learn of the reports of a threatening statement made toward the chief public health officer,” RCMP Superintendent Jeffrey Christie said in a statement announcing Leussink’s arrest.

Cabin Radio understands a death threat was involved. The charge has not been proven in court.



“We must speak out against such intimidation, whether online or in-person, and urge those responsible for overseeing social media platforms and law enforcement bodies to put an end to this highly alarming conduct,” Dr Collins wrote.

“Public health officials and health care workers in Canada have been working tirelessly – under stressful and very challenging conditions – since the beginning of the pandemic to keep Canadians healthy and safe. They deserve nothing short of our full appreciation and respect.

“These disquieting acts of aggression must not be tolerated.”