No one who follows politics could remember those horrible days in January when US Democrat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot.
Feelings of horror were not quite universal. Many among the far-left scrambled to find evidence that Giffords' assailant, Jared Lee Loughner, was a conservative. Ignoring remarks from a childhood friend of Loughner that indicated he was "very liberal", the far-left seized upon fascinations with issues such as debt-backed currency to paint him as an extreme conservative.
(In doing this they overlooked the fact that debt-backed currency is also a fascination of the discipline of globalization studies, which is far from a right-wing field of study.)
It's against this particular backdrop, and demands to restore civility to politics, that one would expect the left to take some recent remarks by the NDP's candidate in Parry-Sound Muskoka very seriously.
At an all-candidates forum, Dr Wendy Wilson, carrying the banner for the NDP, suggested Tony Clement's campaign van should have crosshairs for those who wanted to shoot Clement.
As the media has been remarkably slow to pick up the story, Clement's account will have to do for now:
"Local NDP cand suggested tonite that my campaign van needed crosshairs for those wishing to shoot me. Audible gasps from audience."For a party like the NDP, who claim to stand for civility and human decency in Canadian politics, these are very remarkable and disturbing comments indeed.
But if one takes Dr Wilson's Rate My MDs profile as evidence of anything -- and one should take these testimonials with an extreme grain of salt -- Dr Wilson may have the kind of personality that lends itself to these kinds of outbursts.
One thing that could be concluded is that Dr Wilson has a divisive personality. People either really like her or really dislike her. The number of extremely high ratings (seven) and number of extremely low ratings (also seven) seem to speak to polarized opinions on both her and her skills as a physician.
One commenter writes:
"Her personality runs hot and cold. one visit she'll be super friendly, the next she'll be rude and condescending. Sometimes it switches mid-visit! When she's in rude mode, she won't hardly listen to you, you'll barely be able to say a word. Her diagnosis ability goes up and down accordingly. On a friendly visit she diagnosed and fixed a complex problem I had. But later on a rude visit she failed to diagnose a really simple problem I had with one body part. I was sure there was something not right, so I went back a second time, and she was very rude and exasperated that I would not accept her conclusion that it was nothing! A week later that part developed into a full-grown infection that I treated myself with OTC products. I didn't bother going back to shove it in her face."This individual's comments seem to be corroborated by one other individual.
"I agree with the person said about her running hot and cold. But mostly she is just cold. For 2 years I was asking about a problem that I was having after a surgery. She kept dismissing this other recurring problem. I finally inisited that she refer me to a specialist and she literally lost it. She got down right rude and actually left me sitting in the office, without returning, but she did do the referall, and to this day am still seeing the specialist for results to my problem. We both agree there is something wrong, but have not been able to diagnose. After my first visit with the specialist, I went back to her for my results, and she was so nice. That really upset me, as she was acting like she did nothing wrong, and to this day has never apologized, not that i expect it from her. She needs to come down off of her high horse. She is so prejudiced with people who are overweight, and tends to blame everything on that. I put in to switch doctors, but am still waiting to see what happens."Dr Wilson's negative ratings often refer to her as rude. Meanwhile, her numerous positive ratings -- five of which are straight fives -- describe her as passionate and dedicated to her work.
All this aside, it's also very important to consider the fact that websites like Rate My MDs lack any sort of controls to ensure the people who are rating doctors have actually been patients of the doctor. This point relates as much to the negative reviews of Dr Wilson as to the positive reviews.
In considering this very real possibility, it's important to note that two comments have been made either since the current election was called, or since it became clear that an election would be called. Almost as if to justify the doubt of the veracity of these comments, one is a spectacularly high rating (fives across the board), while the other one was a fairly low rating.
Prior to these two comments, suspicious in the view of this author, the most recent comments were made in 2010. It could be suspected that most of those comments were actually made by patients.
Then again, it would be risky to draw any conclusions from a website like Rate My MDs. The ratings may be accurate. They may not be. Readers should be careful either way.
Dr Wilson's comments about Tony Clement, however, are much fairer game for speculation. On that note alone it's an interesting candidate the NDP has in Dr Wendy Wilson.
People expect better out of political candidates in Canada, and hopefully the NDP expects better from their candidates, and do something about Dr Wilson's comments.
Update: According to Tony Clement's Twitter account, Dr Wilson has apologized for her comments.
In the heat of a candidates' forum, people can say things they don't really mean. Dr Wilson should be commended for doing the right thing and apologizing.