Have you heard about the petition in Quebec that gained nearly 120,000 signatures, asking the government to “approve and reimburse”vitamin C injections for people with cancer?
And about how it almost succeeded through political lobbying?
I spent several months working on this case, trying at first to help people understand the issues and pitfalls with this petition, and then addressing politicians directly, and trying to rally scientific associations. I did this becausethe petition was moving forward rapidly and very few people were raising doubts about it.
As a result, a group of vitamin C supporters tried to make me lose my job. I was doxed. A smear campaign was organized against me. My family was harassed and threatened.
Eventually, after months of cyberbullying, I came forward publicly with what was going on behind the scenes. The result was a massive outcry from the scientific community, which could not be ignored by the government this time.
Ultimately, the petition did not go forward into parliamentary proceedings.
But more importantly, these events had positive consequences for the future: a government task force was created in order to protect scientists who speak publicly about sensitive topics (I am fortunate enough to be involved in it). Also, an inter-professional advisory committee was created to help healthcare professionals, such as myself, speak publicly without fear of disciplinary action.
This case received little attention in the English-Canadian press, so here are translations of a few articles on what happened.
(Please note that these were translated automatically by the Google Translate URL tool with no revision, so some of the text is weird and possibly funny-sounding)
A summary of the events in March 2019 by Radio-Canada (CBC) :
Another one, focusing on the challenges and personal risks of doing science communication:
For the occasion, I’ve created a comic that will be distributed to pharmacies throughout Quebec and provided to clients who come in for a new prescription.
is to explain what happens while one waits for their medication, which is a
total mystery for most people! Ultimately, the goal is to demystify the work of
pharmacists, and to show what we do – and can do – for the public.
I like the idea of learning without realizing it, hence the absurd visual metaphors. I hope people will receive the comic in the waiting room and be like “What is that?!“. This sounds like a good starting point 🙂