Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jeffrey Turnbull, candidate for CMA presidency

Being enthusiastic about medical politics isn’t often easy, but I’m pleased to exchange the pen of cynicism for the pen of hope in writing about an election in Ontario. Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull is a candidate for Ontario nominee as Canadian Medical Association president. If elected, he would assume the presidency in 2010.

What makes Dr. Turnbull special? I’ve never met him, but he has impressed many, including the Ottawa Citizen which called him “renowned for developing novel solutions to difficult problems.” He has worked in places as diverse as the slums of Dhaka, the homeless shelters of Ottawa, and the dean’s offices at the university of Ottawa. He is a clinician, educator, advocate, researcher, and administrator. He has served at many levels of leadership in the medical establishment. He is supremely qualified to be the president of the CMA.

Dr. Turnbull is also a proponent of health care delivered in a comprehensive, publicly funded and administered system. While some call for the Canada Health Act to be “modernized,” Dr. Turnbull knows that this legislation, in its simplicity, allows for an array of services and solutions to health care needs as broad as this country. It merely requires that these services be delivered equitably, and that displeases those who want to profit by exploiting the demand for scarce personnel and resources.

The change we really need is in the imagination and will of physicians, administrators, and politicians. By devising innovative and inclusive approaches to health care, Dr. Turnbull has shown that he can provide leadership and vision so necessary at a time when Canadian medicine is plagued by opportunism and mercantilism.

Both leading candidates call for a national pharmaceutical care plan. On this, Canadian physicians may be approaching consensus.

Members of the Ontario Medical Association may vote in the election from January 15 through February 26.

Randall F. White, MD

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