Canadian docs accused of illegal lobbying over rad practice ownership

Two high-profile Canadian physicians, including Frédéric Desjardins, MD, president of the Quebec Association of Radiologists, are defending themselves from accusations of illegally lobbying the Quebec Health Minister.

Desjardins and Gaétan Barrette, MD, the head of the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec, appeared in court this week after writing a letter to former Quebec Health Minister Philippe Couillard with concerns that non-doctor shareholders were taking control of private radiology clinics in Quebec, according to a report from The Montreal Gazette. At the time the letter was sent in March 2008, neither Desjardins nor Barrette’s organizations were registered as official lobbyists.

Desjardins and Barrette were concerned that radiologists, needing financing for their practices, were using private investors for financing, potentially affecting quality of services, according to The Montreal Gazette. The letter argued that medical doctors should be majority shareholders of imaging practices.

The pair said they sent the letter, but are disputing the lobbying law on the grounds that it violates their freedom of expression. They would receive a fine if found guilty.