McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) are reviewing a social media comment made by cardiologist Dr. Eva Lonn after she wrote about pro-Palestinian demonstrators, “deport them all to where they came from.”
Lonn, a prominent medical director and professor of medicine at McMaster, made the comment on LinkedIn in response to a New York Post article about a peaceful protest that shutdown the Brooklyn bridge in late October.
A screenshot of Lonn’s comment was shared widely on social media last week, sparking outrage. An online petition demanding McMaster address Lonn’s comment had more than 6,000 signatures as of Monday.
Lonn has since apologized and deactivated her social media accounts.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain my recent comments on social media have caused and wholeheartedly apologize,” she posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, late last week.
“My comment … was made in the heat of the moment and without adequate consideration of the broader implications.”
Lonn said she’d been visiting family in Israel when Hamas militants attacked on Oct. 7 and she “returned to Canada deeply traumatized.”
She told CBC Hamilton Monday she has deactivated her social media accounts because of the “barrage” of posts and emails after her apology, most of which were “very insulting” and some threatening her and her family with physical violence.
McMaster University said in a statement her comment doesn’t align with its values and is being reviewed. It did not provide more specific details citing privacy concerns. HHS, which runs the three hospitals Lonn has privileges at, said it is also looking into the incident.
Comment ‘extremely problematic’
National Council of Canadian Muslims spokesperson Uthman Quick said it was “extremely problematic” for a doctor who holds a position of authority and cares for others to make that remark.
“Many people in our community were really upset — it’s completely unacceptable and plays into a dangerous idea that there’s something inherently wrong with supporting Palestinian rights or calling for a ceasefire,” he said.
“If this person is your teacher or doctor, how are you supposed to feel that they think you don’t belong here?”
In her apology, Lonn said it was her intention to condemn individuals “who supported violent means and made very hurtful remarks toward Jewish people.”
The Israel-Hamas conflict has ignited protests worldwide and revealed tensions within Canada.
The recent fighting began on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants invaded southern Israel, killing about 1,400 people and taking more than 200 hostage.
In response, Israel launched airstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza, actions which as of Monday killed 10,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian health authorities.
On Saturday, thousands of people marched outside the U.S. Consulate in Toronto in support of Palestinians and called for an immediate ceasefire, which neither the U.S. or Canadian governments have done.
Palestinian supporters in Hamilton also marched through the city’s downtown Sunday.
On Monday, the heads of several major United Nations bodies made a united call for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
Lonn’s comment is the latest in a spate of high profile incidents related to social media posts involving the war.
A Toronto-area doctor was suspended from a hospital last month after making pro-Palestinian statements on social media. And an Ottawa principal apologized for asking a student to remove a picture of a Palestinian flag from their online profile picture.
Hamilton MPP Sarah Jama was kicked out of the NDP caucus following comments she made in support of the people of Gaza and was censured in the legislature by the Progressive Conservatives.
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