A Conversation on Scientific Censorship in Canada

The AIER Authors Corner Podcast has seen many exciting guests since its first episode back in September of 2020. Without exaggeration, some of the most profound intellectuals on the planet have spoken on the show, from the great economist Deirdre McCloskey to the legal giant Richard Epstein. The following episode is one that does not bring me feelings of excitement and honor, but tragedy and concern. 

This episode should serve as real-time news of the horrific situation unfolding in Canada. Dr. Patrick Phillips joins us as the spokesperson for the group behind the Declaration of Canadian Physicians for Science and Truth, a petition signed by thousands of practicing medical professionals and concerned citizens in Canada. The petition itself is in opposition to what is now the outright censorship of licensed physicians that speak contrary to the Canadian government’s policies and positions. The breath of censorship is vast, covering everything from fringe conspiracy theories to genuine arguments that contradict the state’s narrative on masks, vaccines, and lockdowns. 

AIER has covered this story recently in an article here. In summary, the Declaration was drafted in response to a statement given by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario threatening punishment for any medical professional under its jurisdiction that spoke contrary to the approved viewpoints. The statement reads as follows,

The College is aware and concerned about the increase of misinformation circulating on social media and other platforms regarding physicians who are publicly contradicting public health orders and recommendations. Physicians hold a unique position of trust with the public and have a professional responsibility to not communicate anti-vaccine, anti-masking, anti-distancing and anti-lockdown statements and/or promoting unsupported, unproven treatments for COVID-19. Physicians must not make comments or provide advice that encourages the public to act contrary to public health orders and recommendations. Physicians who put the public at risk may face an investigation by the CPSO and disciplinary action, when warranted. When offering opinions, physicians must be guided by the law, regulatory standards, and the code of ethics and professional conduct. The information shared must not be misleading or deceptive and must be supported by available evidence and science.

This is nothing short of an attack on the very notion of scientific inquiry and a blatant rejection of the principles of the scientific method. It is shocking and horrifying to see such a policy of outright censorship on what are controversial and novel issues being carried out in a country like Canada. 

The actions taken by Dr. Phillips and his colleagues to not only speak truth to the government’s lockdown narrative under the threat of sanction but ultimately serve the best interest of their patients are nothing short of heroic. 

During the interview, Dr. Phillips spoke on the sequence of events unfolding on the ground in Canada and his commitment to staying true to his oath as a physician to support sound public health. That included talking about the damages and shortcomings of many of the government’s pandemic policies. He spoke out about how as a practicing physician, it was his duty to tell the truth to his patients on whether or not he thought certain government policies were good for their health. In the unprecedented age of lockdowns, he and his colleagues understandably had to disagree with much of what the government was doing, but now they are being coerced into keeping quiet. Such a development signals an ominous shift against the very notion of a free society, modernity, truth, and transparency. 

By appearing on the Authors Corner, Dr. Phillips is potentially putting his medical career on the line by doing everything the government says he can’t so that he can get his group’s message out to the world. We should be honored that he has entrusted us with that privilege. 

Perhaps one of the most striking things for me when it came to Dr. Phillips was not his bravery and his insight, to which he certainly has much of, but the reality of his situation. Dr. Phillips, at least to my knowledge, did not strike me as a loudmouth pundit craving publicity, podcast appearances or as a seasoned political agent. Unlike the great scholars that routinely appear on this show, his profession is real work, working with real people, solving real problems, not just talking about them. It seemed to me like the practice of medicine was his passion and his priority. I’m sure that he never would have imagined that in his lifetime he would be appearing on media outlets representing an organization that is fighting back against government-enforced censorship. But that is what lockdowns have done. It is at least reassuring to know that in times of crisis, there are people like Dr. Phillips who are willing to step up when duty calls to make sure that if society is going by the wayside, it won’t happen without a fight.

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