Ontario’s regulatory college for doctors says dozens of complaints lodged against a physician advocating for gun control were a politically motivated attempt to silence her and an abuse of its process.
In a letter to Toronto trauma surgeon Najma Ahmed dated May 7, the complaints committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons said it won’t be taking any further action in regard to about 70 complaints it received about her. The letter says using complaints to advance a political agenda is “inappropriate” and “amounts to an abuse of the college’s process.”
The issue began in February when the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights, an advocacy group, started a campaign urging its members to file complaints about Dr. Ahmed, who is a founding member of the group Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns. The CCFR posted step-by-step instructions on how to file complaints and told Dr. Ahmed to “stay in your lane,” echoing the line used by the U.S. National Rifle Association to respond to health providers advocating for gun control.
In March, the regulatory college issued an initial assessment saying it would dismiss the complaints. The complaints committee’s final decision, communicated to Dr. Ahmed last week, says it is “concerning” that she “has been subjected to what appears to be a campaign to dissuade her from voicing her views.”
“The complaints process should not be used as a tool to silence or intimidate physicians,” the letter said.
Dr. Ahmed said she was pleased with the news.
“I’m very comforted and relied with the decision and the weight of the language used,” she said in an interview.
Rod Giltaca, executive director of the CCFR, declined to comment.
The issue of gun control has become a hot topic in Canada recently, as the federal government considers the possibility of a handgun and assault-weapon ban and Bill C-71 makes its way through the Senate. The bill would require more detailed background checks and for retailers to keep records of firearm sales.
On its website, the CCFR argues gun-control measures unfairly target licensed gun owners and don’t address the underlying causes of gun violence and the supply of unlicensed firearms.
Dr. Ahmed is a trauma surgeon who treated victims of the 2018 mass shooting on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue. She and other members of the CDPG group say gun-related injuries and violence are a serious public-health issue and that gun-control measures, including a handgun ban, are needed to help reduce these incidents. Dr. Ahmed said recent mass shootings in New Zealand and in the U.S. underscore the importance of this as a public health measure.
“We have an opportunity to prevent some catastrophe from happening in Canada,” she said.