David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during their appeals trial in Calgary, Alta., on March 9, 2017. A naturopath has testified she recommended an Alberta couple take their toddler to a hospital emergency room before he died of bacterial meningitis. David and Collet Stephan have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessaries of life for their 19-month-old son, Ezekiel. The couple initially treated the child with herbal supplements and alternative remedies before he died in 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol

Association of Nigerian doctors calls Alberta judge’s comments racist

Justice Terry Clackson found David and Collet Stephan not guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel

An Alberta judge’s comments about an expert witness at the trial of parents who were accused in their son’s death were “prejudiced, racist, xenophobic and anti-immigrant,” says a letter by a group that represents Nigerian doctors in Canada.

The letter is signed by Adeyemi Laosebikan, president of the Canadian Association of Nigerian Physicians and Dentists, and is one of three complaints being investigated by the Canadian Judicial Council, which oversees federally appointed judges.

“In a multicultural society such as Canada, these comments are disturbing, divisive and unacceptable,” the letter reads.

“Professionally, these comments are unethical and socially immoral. A position of influence such as that of a judge should be occupied by individuals who understand and truly apply the universal principles of natural justice, equity and fairness.”

Last month, Justice Terry Clackson found David and Collet Stephan not guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life to 19-month-old Ezekiel. The Stephans testified they thought their son had croup and that they used herbal remedies to treat him before he died in hospital.

In his decision, Clackson said the medical examiner called by the Crown, Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo, was hard to understand and spoke with an accent.

“His ability to articulate his thoughts in an understandable fashion was severely compromised by: his garbled enunciation; his failure to use appropriate endings for plurals and past tenses; his failure to use the appropriate definite and indefinite articles; his repeated emphasis of the wrong syllables; dropping his Hs; mispronouncing his vowels; and the speed of his responses,” Clackson wrote in the decision.

Adeagbo, who is originally from Nigeria, did the autopsy on Ezekiel and testified that the boy died of bacterial meningitis. The judge sided with a forensic pathologist called by the defence, who said the boy’s death was caused by a lack of oxygen.

“Mr. Justice Clackson in his written judgment unnecessarily smeared Mr. Adeagbo for his accent, that which he had no control over any more than the opposing medical expert had over her French accent,” says the association’s letter.

It asks that Clackson make a formal and public apology to Adeagbo. It also calls on the judicial council, the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Medical Association to publicly lend their voice.

“(Adeagbo) has been an expert witness for the Crown in the province of Alberta in more than 50 medico-legal cases and is actively involved in training medical students and postgraduate physicians,” the letter says.

“Justice Terry Clackson’s condescending comments and disposition to Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo on the basis of his accent and grammar fall short of honourable conduct and diminishes administration of justice.”

Laosebikan, whose association has 2,000 members, said there was no choice but to respond to Clackson’s comments once they became public.

“Any responsible organization would react in the same matter,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

“This is a fellow medical professional who is being unduly maligned in the court of law while performing his professional and civic duty.”

A group of 42 professors of medicine and law from across Canada filed a similar complaint last week with the judicial council.

Norman Sabourin, the council’s executive director, said it has received a third complaint from an individual, but he did not name the person.

“All complaints are being reviewed in accordance with council’s complaints procedures,” Sabourin said. “The judge will be given the opportunity to comment.”

Darryl Ruether, executive legal counsel for Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, said Clackson will continue to sit as a justice.

“Because this matter is the subject of complaints before the CJC, and because it may be subject to appeal to the Alberta Court of Appeal, it would be inappropriate for the court to comment on it,” he said.

Katherine Thompson with Alberta Justice said Wednesday that the Crown had not yet decided if it would appeal the verdict.

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Clearview and staff are providing $1,525 towards ensuring families have enough to eat over the holidays

“Food Bank usage in Stettler and other areas continues to increase.”

‘You can take the kid from the farm, but you can’t take the farm from the kid!’

Former area resident Maxine Berry reflects on growing up years in Endiang region

Red Deer-Lacombe MP, other Conservative MPs meet with AB justice minister

Calkins said the justice system is a revolving door for criminals targeting rural areas

Businesses and organizations team up for Miracle on 50th

Shop local, celebrate local on Dec. 14th

The Association of Communities Against Abuse continues to build awareness and offer support

A new support and empowerment group has also been started in Stettler

Fashion Fridays: A masterclass on H&M knitwear

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Alberta to change drug coverage for 26,000 patients, expects to save up to $380M

Patients being treated with biologics on government-sponsored drug plans must switch to biosimilars

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

Pet medical neglect cases on the rise in economically ailing Calgary

Alberta’s unemployment rate was 7.2 per cent in November compared with 4.4 per cent five years ago

Alberta premier opens war room to promote ‘truth’ about energy industry

Effort includes a $2.5-million public inquiry into foreign funding of anti-oil advocacy groups

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Most Read