Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair responds to backlash over Sun column about COVID-19, says her only aim was to ‘promote discourse’
AUGUST 17, 2020
AUGUST 17, 2020
LIANNE SAVORY, TORONTO STAR
With the coronavirus pandemic intensifying at a dizzying pace, City Hall is grappling with how to meet residents’ increasing anxiety over COVID-19 and how to limit the risk of spreading the virus, which has been linked to severe illness in vulnerable groups such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
But a column by author and former Sun media columnist Anne McEachern in Wednesday’s edition, which featured a photo of herself wearing a T-shirt with the words “F*** Trump”, sparked outrage across Canada. It drew hundreds of online comments and Twitter messages from around the world, mainly decrying McEachern’s decision to run the column as irresponsible, even racist.
Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair, Nancy Koehn, said Thursday she has seen the backlash to McEachern’s column on social media and hopes that some of her detractors can find some humour in the situation.
“I would hope that a lot of people would have a laugh about the situation,” she said. “I saw some absolutely horrendous comments. It’s certainly not funny and can be deeply offensive.”
McEachern, she said, is not a public health official and merely was doing her job, which is to write about the “unimaginable, the unimaginable and the impossible.”
“If anything, my column was a very light-hearted, humorous and satirical, poking fun at public health and politics,” McEachern told the Star. “I was going to be funny.