Fort Chip, as it is referred to by residents, has the misfortune of being downstream from the tar sands, and Dr. O'Connor found an alarming presence of a rare form of cancer, that he attributed to the contamination of water from the tailing ponds.
In fact, National Geographic ran a full story on this water contamination when 500 oil soaked ducks were found dead after landing in one of the ponds.
However, after sounding the alarm, this man's life was made a living hell by a government now well known for it's treatment of anyone who dares to challenge them.
... the family physician never anticipated that speaking out about his concerns would land him in a career-threatening struggle against the federal government with his medical licence on the line.Though eventually vindicated, he was forced to leave Alberta and set up practice in Nova Scotia. A movie has since been made of his experiences and he has been asked to speak on numerous occasions about this type of cancer and the health risks associated with "dirty oil".
"Looking back, it's been a nightmare for me," O'Connor said in an interview. "It's just something I never expected in a million years. I just wanted to be the family doctor that I was when I went up there."
In April of 2009, Dr. O'Connor and Andrew Nikiforuk, author of Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent; were asked to speak at a special parliamentary committee on 'the impact of world's largest energy project on water: 130 square kilometres of waste water, acid rain, fish deformities, rare cancers and city-scale withdrawals of freshwater.'
Expecting to be treated as the experts that they were , they were instead ambushed by, for lack of a better term, a gang of thugs, all from the Reformers goon squad. As Nikiforuk recounts:
But both O'Connor and I made a terrible mistake. We assumed that all committee members would be interested in rigorous dialogue regardless of political affiliation. But that's not what Ottawa delivered. Instead, several Tory MPs subjected us to abusive Republican tactics geared to dismiss, discredit and dishonour.One of these thugs was none other than Peter Braid, the Reform-Conservative MP for Kitchener-Waterloo. Now when you see him perform in this video, can you imagine as an expert in your field having your credibility attacked by the likes of that?
Like members of some strange Communist gang, they assumed that Dr. O'Connor was a natural born liar. They insinuated that he had no credibility because he wasn't an industry cancer professional or a highly degreed expert. What, after all, would a family physician know about rare bile-duct cancers, even though his father died of one? They suggested that a 30 per cent higher-than-expected rate
for cancers in the community must be a lifestyle issue. In other words, the people living downstream of the tar sands had simply chosen to make themselves cancerous.
The author didn't fare much better as he was subjected to open hostility and 'frat-boy mockery'. This led the two men to ask themselves: Is this the parliamentary future for Saudi Canada, the world's largest supplier of oil to the United States?
Sadly, this has become part of a very disturbing and alarming pattern now, when it comes to this government. If you challenge them they will ruin you.
IS THIS REALLY YOUR CANADA? IS PETER BRAID REALLY THE BEST CHOICE FOR KITCHENER-WATERLOO?