Hamilton MP calls Twitter ‘bounty’ against Brampton physician criminal harassment

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Published December 21, 2021 at 10:38 pm

Hamilton Centre MP Matthew Green contended Tuesday that a far-right activist’s “bounty” on doctors falls under Canada’s forthcoming law that creates offences for intimidating a health professional.

On Tuesday (Dec. 21), Ezra Levant of Rebel News wrote a tweet stating he was offering a “$5,000 bounty” to anyone who sent him video of Dr. Naheed Dosani, a prominent palliative care physician, breaking COVID-19 rules. Levant quote-tweeted a social media message where Dosani, who served as the medical director of the Region Of Peel’s isolation housing system during the pandemic, asked whether whether people had cancelled holiday gathering plans due to the Omicron variant surge with the knowledge they were “doing the right thing.”

Dr. Nathan Stall, who is the Ontario Liberal candidate in the Toronto—St. Paul’s riding for the June 2022 provincial election, called out Levant’s behaviour, as did many others. Levant responded by threatening the same “bounty” against Stall.

There was an outpouring of social media support for Dosani. Dosani, who is a first-generation Canadian, is a physician at William Osler Health System in Brampton and an assistant clinical professor in family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton. His work bringing care to people who are unhoused or facing housing insecurity was honoured by the governor-general in 2017.

Green, a New Democrat who represents Hamilton Centre, brought up the recently passed Bill C-3, which will take effect next month.

“The thought of Ezra Levant directed ghouls stalking (Dr. Dosani) and other frontline COVID Doctors and health care professionals is horrifying,” Green wrote on Twitter.

“This type of criminal harassment ought to be captured under the recently passed Bill C3 drafted to protect our health care workers.”

Green was referring to An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canada Labour Code, which was passed in the House of Commons on Dec. 16. A bill takes effect 30 days after passage.

Under the heading, “Intimidation — health services,” language that C-3 adds to the Criminal Code states:

“Every person commits an offence who engages in any conduct with the intent to provoke a state of fear in … (a) a person in order to impede them from obtaining health services from a health professional; (b) a health professional in order to impede them in the performance of their duties; or (c) a person, whose functions are to assist a health professional in the performance of the health professional’s duties, in order to impede that person in the performance of those functions.”

The Liberal government moved to pass the bill after antivaxxers frequently harassed healthcare workers as they reported for work at hospitals last summer.

On Dec. 16, Green spoke in support of the bill in the House of Commons. The second-term parliamentarian, who is a former Hamilton city councillor, depicted antivaxxers and spreaders of COVID-19 misinformation as opportunists preying on emotionally vulnerable people during the biggest pandemic in a century.

“It is heartbreaking to think that people I otherwise know to be rational — family members, classmates I grew up with, neighbours I know to be caring and compassionate, are being manipulated by a rhetoric of a right-wing populism,” he said, “Grifters and agitators who would seek to turn this profound moment of suffering into some sort of personal sales pitch or nationwide tour targeting our frontline health care workers fighting the onslaught of successive waves of COVID.”

At last count, per the Ontario Science Table, more than 91 per cent of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases were caused by the Omicron variant of concern. The variant’s doubling time is 2.9 days, and there is not yet a scientic consensus on its severity. Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, also said Tuesday that Canadians should limit their socializing over the holiday break.

Levant retweeted several of his own tweets showing where Rebel Media offered money for video proof of politicians or public health officials breaking COVID-19 rules.

The Rebel Media founder has been successfully sued for libel twice, by lawyers by lawyers Giacomo Vigna and Khurrum Awan. During her judgment against Levant in Awan’s suit, Ontario Superior Court Justice Wendy Matheson wrote that “his repeated failure to take even basic steps to check his facts showed a reckless disregard for the truth.”

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