In western society over the past few years we have seen the effects of disinformation on our society and our politics. We have seen them spread easily and have an out-sized effect on the discourse of our communities. In the best of times it was causing greater problems, but that effect has become even more dangerous in the hard times that we now live in. The importance of getting reliable, verified, and correct information is not just a “nice thing to have” right now. It’s a “must have” and to be blunt about it, people’s lives depend on it.
In this moment, with everything that’s at stake, you might expect that most elected people would take that seriously. The majority of people trust politicians and expect that they of all people would be giving them good information. They expect that because that’s been the practice for so long through out our history, despite the fact that we’ve seen that eaten away at over the past few years. And even though we’ve seen that eaten away over these years, we still expect those same politicians to rise to this moment and take the responsibility to give correct and reliable information seriously. You would think that it wouldn’t be a big ask, yet today a story has come out that throws that basic assumption right under the bus:
Christ, where to start with this dog’s breakfast of a story. First of all, it should be noted that Marilyn Gladu is not a medical doctor nor a medical professional. She’s an engineer by profession, a very good one from what I’ve heard in the past. But even if we put that aside, before she decided to seek the Conservative Party’s leadership a while back, she was their Health critic. In that role, one that she took very seriously from all accounts, she seemed to get the importance of accurate health information. So while she does not have a medical background, I would have thought that her parliamentary experience as Health critic would have brought her more appreciation for this than most MPs.
Yet with one foul swoop, with one interview with her local media, she manages to not only blow that reputation up, she goes about sharing dangerous misinformation about a drug, during a bloody global pandemic no less. In the piece from Blackburn News in Sarnia, Gladu says that she wants Canada to “implement COVID-19 “cures” she says, “have been proven” in the United States.” She went onto say that in the States “they’ve been successful with the treatment of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc sulfate… They’ve tried this on thousands of COVID patients, with nearly 100 per cent recovery rate, and so the FDA has approved this as an emergency measure, but Canada has not.” All of what she said just there, in that quote, to her local media, was 100% wrong and even more dangerous to state as any kind of a fact.
Let us be clear folks about the facts, there is no cure for Covid-19, let alone cures plural. And of those “proven” treatments that Gladu suggest that Canada just swing the door open to, hydroxychloroquine can be extremely dangerous to people’s health. In the piece Bluewater Health Chief of Staff Dr. Michel Haddad is quoted rebutting Gladu, pointing out that there has not been any evidence to show that hydroxychloroquine has been helpful in prevention or treatment of COVID-19. He went onto say that “there’s a lot of talk out there about different treatments…. There’s no single agent that actually kills this virus. The Tamiflu we use for influenza is non-effective. We have been using cocktails of antibiotics, without real evidence to be honest with you.” That folks is the chief public health official in her region, a medical doctor, having to take time out of his day to debunk, refute and rebut dangerous misinformation from their local MP, her party’s former Health critic. Christ folks, that’s terrible.
But if you don’t want to take Dr. Haddad’s word for it when it comes to hydroxychloroquine, just look at the news from the past few weeks on the drug. In a short minute-long Google search, you’ll see stories like the following:
- From Arizona in late March, “Man Dies, Woman Hospitalized After Taking Form Of Chloroquine To Prevent COVID-19”
- Also from late March, “Nigeria records chloroquine poisoning after Trump endorses it for coronavirus treatment”
- From a few days ago, Brazil stopped a trial on this “after coronavirus patients taking a higher dose of chloroquine developed irregular heart rates that increased their risk of a potentially fatal heart arrhythmia.”
- And from just yesterday, the CIA “warned employees against using hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus” because it “could have potentially dangerous side effects, including death”
You would think that if this drug were a safe and a miracle cure that Mrs. Gladu seems to suggest it is, you’d see nothing like the hard examples of just how the opposite is true. Yet there they are, proving that hydroxychloroquine is not the miracle cure that she holds it out to be and could be quite the opposite, putting Covid-19 patients and others at increased risk for heart problems or death. That is what she is suggesting exposing Canadians suffering from this horrid disease to, all based on no proof or evidence.
Now if this were coming from just some random person online it wouldn’t be as egregious, but it’s not. It’s coming from someone who is serving her second term as a Member of Parliament, one who has more than a passing knowledge of the medical field. She should know better, especially in this time when some people are looking to her for advice and information backed by solid facts. Instead she is parroting claims made by the President of the United States, claims that, as some of the stories above show, have put everyday people at risk.
I hope and pray that Mrs. Gladu will take back these words, disavow herself of them and correct the record fast. And if she will not, I’d be expecting someone from the Conservatives Leaders office to push for just that. If neither of those things happen, they are putting themselves behind dangerous misinformation in these dangerous times, something that could put some Canadians at greater risk. Part of being an MP is having a greater responsibility to the public for their words and actions. With this interview, Mrs. Gladu made a serious misstep to put it politely. It’s now her responsibility to make this right and take this back if she truly takes her responsibilities as an elected representative of the Canadian people seriously.