May 23, 2014
Ontario Press Council at:
890 Yonge St.,
Attention: Don McCurdy, Executive Director
RE: Formal Complaint – Breech of Journalistic Standards
Dear Mr. MCurdy
I am writing to file a formal complaint with regards to the article written by Andre Picard entitled “Measles Outbreak Shows Importance of Education” (April 2, 2014). Mr. Picard is a columnist with The Globe and Mail.
Mr. Picard’s commentary does a grave disservice to our communities and to the promotion of thoughtful, rigorous, and informed discussion with regards to the matter of childhood vaccinations.
The vaccination of children is a complex issue and is one of the most challenging decisions a parent is required to make. As the parent of a vaccine damaged child, I know too well that vaccines are not 100% safe. I live with the consequences of vaccine damage everyday in caring for a son that requires 24-hour care and whose condition will only deteriorate.
I am deeply concerned by what is being offered as professional journalism. While I generally value Mr. Picard’s writing and commentary, this particular article is destructive and detrimental to the health and fabric of our communities.
At a time when the message of anti-bullying is being embraced in our schools and communities, somehow it is acceptable to “bully” parents who take seriously their responsibility to choose the medical treatments their child will be exposed to.
As a result of the damage done to my son, I spent more than ten years researching the topic of vaccine damage. I came to a shocking conclusion. NO vaccine has successfully passed the scientific rigor of a long-term study which compares a vaccinated population with an unvaccinated control group to prove either safety or effectiveness.
My repeated inquiries to the Centre for Disease Control, Chief Medical Officer, and local health officials to provide scientific evidence of safety in a long term study using an unvaccinated control group, have been met with either silence, disdain, or claims that “everyone knows vaccines are safe and effective” and therefore there is no reason to do this kind of research.
Articles as Picard’s “Measles Outbreak Shows Importance of Education” do not benefit the community. This article states that parents, as myself, who question vaccine safety, are “blissfully ignorant” and “people who worry more about the imaginary harms caused by “chemicals” in vaccines than the very real harms of infectious diseases”. I am not “blissfully ignorant” and the harm done to my son by a childhood vaccine is hardly “imaginary”. I am an engaged parent who feels a deep responsibility to hold the medical and pharmaceutical establishments accountable to provide safe products.
Mr. Picard’s statements – “more draconian measures are required to protect the broader populations from the folly of a minority” and “There is no excuse for that sort of contempt for public health” encourages the bullying that is emerging in print, online, and social media by people who think its acceptable to demean, dismiss and show contempt for parents who take this matter seriously.
This kind of reporting does not provide proper and informed commentary to this matter and creates a climate of hysteria and hostility, pitting parent against parent in a way that undermines the livelihoods of our communities.
It would appear that Mr. Picard has done no serious investigative journalism of his own on the topic of vaccine safety and has simply accepted the claims of our medical and pharmaceutical industries. His bias in accepting the claims of the pharmaceutical industry without demanding evidence, while showing complete disregard and disrespect for those parents as myself who know first hand the reality of vaccination damage, is unacceptable.
I am aware that the Canadian Broadcast Standard Council has a code of ethics that all broadcasters are expected to abide by, specifically:
Clause 6 – Full, Fair and Proper Presentation
It is recognized that the full, fair and proper presentation of news, opinion, comment and editorial is the prime and fundamental responsibility of each broadcaster. This principle shall apply to all radio and television programming, whether it relates to news, public affairs, magazine, talk, call-in, interview or other broadcasting formats in which news, opinion, comment or editorial may be expressed by broadcaster employees, their invited guests or callers.
Clause 7 – Controversial Public Issues
Recognizing in a democracy the necessity of presenting all sides of a public issue, it shall be the responsibility of broadcasters to treat fairly all subjects of a controversial nature. Time shall be allotted with due regard to all the other elements of balanced program schedules, and the degree of public interest in the questions presented. Recognizing that healthy controversy is essential to the maintenance of democratic institutions, broadcasters will endeavour to encourage the presentation of news and opinion on any controversy which contains an element of the public interest.
The Globe and Mail’s own statement of Journalistic Principles indicates they will “seek to provide reasonable accounts of competing views in any controversy so as to enable readers to make up their own minds” and “Information from another publication must be checked or credited before it is used”.
Mr. Picard shows little respect for either of these codes of ethics, or The Globe’s own Journalistic Principles, and has instead presented a very biased and destructive portrayal of anyone who would questions the claims of the medical and pharmaceutical industry.
How is it that we have learned to be cautious in accepting claims of safety and effectiveness of the pharmaceutical industry with regards to prescription drugs (thalidomide, oxycodone, antibiotics, etc) but seem absolutely unwilling to consider any concerns that vaccines can and do cause harm?
Mr. Picard is aware that most of the major western countries in the world have a vaccine damage compensation plan to compensate individuals that are vaccine damaged. Canada is the only Group of Eight country, other than Russia, that has not created a vaccine damage compensation program. Mr. Picard wrote about this very topic on February 15, 2011. Additionally, the US has paid out over a billion dollars in claims for vaccine damage, and recently the Italian courts awarded damage to a family who child developed autism from vaccinations. This would suggest that there is substantive evidence that vaccines cause damage and this damage is much more than “imaginary”.
In my childhood (I’m 58), we received about a dozen vaccines. Today a child receives more than 50 vaccines before age 16. No one knows the impact this combined vaccine load has on a child, and unfortunately no one seems to want to find out. Any question of vaccine safety is dismissed as “misinformation”. To limit discussion on this important topic gives the pharmaceutical companies unfettered access to our children. Are we ready for that?
As I stated earlier, I discovered that NO vaccine has successfully demonstrated either safety or effectiveness in a long-term study (10+ years) that compares a vaccinated population with an unvaccinated population. This seems a serious gap in the claims of safety and effectiveness. Yet the media seems unable or unwilling to more fully examine such claims by the medical and pharmaceutical industries. The absence of this evidence is not only unethical, it is immoral.
I filled a formal complaint with Phillip Crawley, Publisher and CEO on April 12, 2014 with regards to Mr. Picard’s article. Attached is the response I received from Ms. Sylvia Stead, Public Editor. I find Ms. Stead’s response grossly inadequate given the severity of the matter and the potential consequences of Mr. Picard’s call for “draconian measures”.
I request that if Mr. Picard and The Globe and Mail are going to continue to address the issue of vaccinations, they be required to bring some balance and fairness to the commentary, and separate opinion (even the opinions of the medical community) from scientific fact.
I believe the Globe and Mail would do the community a far greater service by holding the vaccine manufacturers and public health system accountable for their statements of safety and effectiveness and insist they provide compelling scientific evidence of their claims.
Calling for “draconian measures” as in the forced vaccination of children, in the absence of overwhelming scientific evidence of safety, is highly irresponsible and undermines the freedoms and parental responsibilities we enjoy in this country.
Thank you for your consideration.