Have you heard about the petition in Canada 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 a year (March 2018 to March 2019) working on this case as a science communicator, trying at first to help people understand the issues and pitfalls with this petition, and then addressing the politicians directly and trying to rally scientific associations. I did this because the petition was moving forward rapidly and no one was raising doubts about it.
As a result, a group of vitamin C supporters tried to make me lose my job. I was doxxed. My identity was stolen. A smear campaign in the media was organized against me. My family was threatened.
Eventually, after months of intimidation and 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.
And ultimately, we managed to prevent the petition from going forward into parliamentary proceedings.
These events eventually had positive consequences: 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, to speak publicly without fear of disciplinary action.
This case received little attention in the English-Canadian press, so here are translations of two articles on what happened.
And the conclusion…
Fellow science communicator Jonathan Jarry, from the McGill Office for Science and Society, was kind enough to write a post on the topic too. Thanks so much Jonathan!
For those interested in reading my original article on the topic, which started the whole thing, I would happily create an English version, but here’s a rough Google translation in the meantime.
(pictures are not translatable thorough this tool, unfortunately)