Doctors decline to join 'political football' in Health Canada's anti-drug ads
Published Saturday, August 16, 2014 1:58PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 16, 2014 2:09PM EDT
Three medical groups announced Saturday they will not be participating in a series of planned taxpayer-funded anti-marijuana advertisements from Health Canada, saying the planned educational campaign "has now become a political football."
The College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada released a statement Saturday saying they had been invited to co-brand and provide expert advice for the Health Canada initiated and funded ads.
“The educational campaign has now become a political football on Canada’s marijuana policy and for this reason the CFPC, CMA and Royal College will not be participating," the statement reads. "We did not, and do not, support or endorse any political messaging or political advertising on this issue."
This week, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said the planned Health Canada drug awareness campaign had become a thinly-veiled attack on him and his party's policy.
"It’s become increasingly clear the government is very ready to use taxpayer dollars for partisan gains," Trudeau said in Winnipeg on Friday morning.
He said if the Conservatives want to truly address public health issues facing Canadian youth, they should focus Health Canada ads on cigarettes and alcohol, instead of marijuana.
Trudeau's comments came on the same day federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay reaffirmed the Conservative government’s anti-marijuana stance. MacKay said on Friday that Trudeau’s desire to legalize marijuana for recreational use is "the wrong direction for Canada’s youth."
Friday’s comments from MacKay and Trudeau are the latest in an ongoing war of words between the Liberals and the Conservatives over the future of marijuana in Canada.
Last month, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino distributed anti-Trudeau flyers in his Vaughan, Ont. riding, claiming Trudeau wants to educate children on the benefits of pot.
The medical groups statement concluded: "All three organizations support the importance of educating the public on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. The CFPC, CMA and Royal College will continue working to enhance public education and increase awareness of the health risks of drug and alcohol consumption by Canada’s young people."