Online threats and harassment against public health officials need to stop, according to the territory’s medical association.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, this worrying phenomenon has escalated. What began as online harassment has evolved into threats and in-person intimidation,” Dr. Katherine Breen, secretary with the Northwest Territories Medical Association (NWTMDA) said in a statement.
Clinton Leussink, 28 of Alberta, was charged with Intimidation and Uttering Threats, after he made a threatening call to the office of NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Kami Kandola. He will appear in court in Yellowknife on February 16th.
“We must raise our voices to speak out against such intimidation,” Dr. Andrew Kotaska, the president of NWTMA said in a statement. “Public health officials have been working tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic to implement the best available science in service of health and wellbeing.”
“All such workers deserve our support.”
The statement also cited protests which have happened outside private residences of Saskatchewan’s chief medical officer of health and Quebec’s National Public Health Officer.
“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,” said in a statement.
“Peaceful protests are an important feature of our democracy, but these recent demonstrations have crossed a crucial line between free speech and willful intimidation.
NT RCMP laid a charge against the Alberta man who threatened Kandola and said it was “very concerning” to learn about the threats being made against the CPHO.
“Everyone, including the CPHO and employees, is entitled to a safe work environment, and NT RCMP will investigate any comments that may be perceived as intimidating thoroughly and charge accordingly,” superintendent Jeffrey Christie, Criminal Operations Officer in Charge said in a statement.