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Doctor cautioned to stop encouraging people to breach pandemic public health orders

A family doctor has been cautioned by Newfoundland and Labrador’s medical regulator to stop encouraging people to disobey Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald’s health orders during the pandemic.

Since last year, Dr. Peter Morry, who works in the town of Bay Bulls, N.L., has been posting COVID-19-related misinformation on his Facebook account. Several of the links on his account carry warnings that they contain false or partly false information.

Morry has defended himself by stressing that he is simply trying to foster debate about COVID-related issues.

On Facebook last August, Morry made a series of posts that are false or misleading.

They included:

  • “The world is starting to wake up. They know that the corona statistics are exaggerated and that there is a cure.… It is time we had Newfoundland stood up and stop wearing our masks and said enough is enough.”
  • “We as a society are being battered by the deep state. They are taking away our freedoms. We are losing our free speech. We are losing the right to control what happens with our own bodies by overbearing governments and people who were too dumb to know that they’re being manipulated.”
  • “The mandatory wearing of the mask ordinance coming up is a huge loss of freedom. The next loss of freedom will be the mandatory forcing of you to take a vaccine. Step-by-step we will lose our freedoms and we have none at all.”
  • “Evidence worldwide shows that COVID-19 is not much worse than influenza.”

Morry did not agree to a recorded interview with CBC News, but did have four telephone conversations with a reporter.

dr peter morry aug 2020 fb post influenza and covid cbc
In a Facebook post from Aug. 21, 2020, Morry falsely compares the dangers of COVID-19 and influenza. (CBC)

He said he was cautioned last summer, and that he has since toned down his Facebook posts. Morry described posts from last summer as aggressive. 

He also said the point of the posts was to stimulate conversation, not to say the government was wrong. 

‘A lot has been learned in the last year’

Morry stressed that he is not an anti-masker but said masks can be dangerous if not used properly. 

The crux of his concern is he feels there are physicians who are being silenced because of their medical opinions and simply for asking questions.

While Morry declined an on-camera interview request, he sent an emailed statement in response to further questions from CBC News.

His statement, quoted below, highlights concerns about the economic impacts of the pandemic response and touts a series of treatments that have either been debunked or not yet proven to be effective.

Statement from Dr. Peter Morry:

“There is no doubt that Covid has ravaged all the countries of the world and will continue to pose a threat long into the future. The treatment modalities proposed by the authorities in Newfoundland have worked exceptionally well but at a tremendous cost to our economy, our charter of rights and freedoms and are not sustainable.

“Vaccines are now here and have a limited role to play because the virus cannot be eradicated and is mutating. One thing is clear: ‘The cost of the treatment cannot be worse than the disease itself.’

“On a world level a lot has been learned in the last year. Some countries have never locked down and others have lifted their restrictions as other treatments have been tried, such as hydroxychloroquin, colchicine and ivermectin.

“Public hearings on a national and international level with all stakeholders discussing and sharing their experiences would serve us all well going foreward [sic].”

Counselled and cautioned by college

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador regulates the practice of medicine in the public interest in the province.

Morry’s profile on the site indicates that he has been both counselled and cautioned. The post does not indicate the date of those actions, or provide any other information.

He’s been counselled to comply with Section 39 of the Canadian Medical Association’s code of ethics and professionalism. That’s a part of the code that deals with the medical profession’s responsibility to act in matters relating to public and population health, and health education.

He was cautioned to “cease encouraging members of the public to breach orders of the chief medical officer of health issued pursuant to the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act.”

The College of Physicians and Surgeons declined to provide any more details to CBC about why they cautioned Morry. They also would not disclose what they have since done to ensure he continues to comply with the code of ethics.

Morry has a past sanction for an interaction with a patient that showed a “lack of respect and dignity,” according to the regulator.

In 2018, Morry was ordered by a tribunal to provide a written apology to the patient and also pay $20,000 in costs to the college.

Pandemic-related posts have continued 

While Morry said the COVID-related caution happened last summer, he has continued to post information about the pandemic on Facebook that has been flagged as incorrect or containing misinformation. 

On Jan. 23, he noted in a post that “the pandemic has been called a scam Demic.”

Then, on Feb. 5, he posted a link to a nearly hour-long talk given by a doctor critical of COVID vaccinations. That video has been described as false by Facebook fact-checkers.

According to media reports in the U.S., the doctor in the video was arrested in January in connection with her alleged role in storming the U.S. Capitol that month.

dr peter morry facebook link doctor talk cbc
This Feb. 5, 2021, post on Morry’s Facebook page linked to a nearly hour-long talk given by an American doctor critical of COVID-19 vaccinations. According to U.S. media reports, that speaker was arrested in January for her alleged role in the Capitol insurrection. (CBC)

Morry is not the only doctor in Canada to have caught the eye of regulators for social media commentary.

An Ontario doctor was issued three cautions after the regulator there received complaints about her tweets concerning the pandemic.

According to a January report in the Winnipeg Free Press, a physician in Manitoba was allowed to practise medicine again, but only if he agreed to stop spreading false information about COVID-19.

cbc news investigates

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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