TORONTO – Three main groups representing Canadian doctors say they will not participate in Health Canada’s upcoming anti-drug campaign targeting young Canadians.
“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,” said a joint statement released Saturday by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
“We did not, and do not, support or endorse any political messaging or political advertising on this issue,” the release said.
All three organizations had been “invited to co-brand and provide expert advice” on the public campaign, initiated and funded by Health Canada, according to the release. Meaning their group logos and endorsement would appear on any advertisements.
However, the three groups stressed “the importance of educating the public on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.”
Health Canada released a statement Saturday saying it regularly seeks partnerships and consults with doctors when creating educational campaigns.
The agency says it will continue to raise awareness about the dangers of marijuana and prescription drug use pose to young people.
Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has been engaged in a war of words with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who has said he favours legalizing and controlling marijuana.
On Friday, Trudeau criticized the federal government for approaching the three doctors’ groups to sign onto the anti-pot advertising campaign, calling it another example of the Harper government using taxpayer money in a partisan attack against him.
In late July, Conservative Minister of Veterans Affairs Julian Fantino distributed a flyer in his Toronto-area riding attacking Trudeau’s support of marijuana legalization.
Fantino’s flyer said Trudeau’s “first order of business is to make marijuana more accessible to minors,” and that the Liberals “want to make buying marijuana a normal, everyday activity for young Canadians.”
Last summer Trudeau came out in favour of regulating and taxing marijuana, similar to the way liquor is sold.
“I did a lot of listening, a lot of reading and a lot of paying attention to the very serious studies that have come out, and I realized that going the road of legalization is actually a responsible thing to look at and to do,” Trudeau said in July 2013.
*With files from The Canadian Press
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