Medical details not a right

Rob Ford’s detailed medical disclosure was the right decision, but his situation shouldn’t set a precedent where we demand health information from our leaders as though it were a right.

Ford withdrew from the ongoing Toronto mayoral race last week following the discovery of a tumour in his abdomen. Ford’s doctor released his medical details to the public — a rare occurrence in Canadian history, as the exact details of a politician’s medical condition aren’t often disclosed.

Politicians have a right to privacy and the extent of a medical disclosure should be their decision. The media can request such information, but the public isn’t entitled to the details of a politician’s illness.

It’s a politician’s responsibility to serve and consult their constituents. If an ailment could negatively influence their ability to work, they have a moral obligation to disclose it to their constituents.

However, if a politician decides to reveal such information, an acknowledgement is more than enough. Divulging details of the condition is unnecessary and shouldn’t be sought after.

Ford’s case is atypical in that the line between his personal and public life has been blurred for some time. His substance abuse has been at the forefront of news coverage throughout much of his tenure as mayor.

Ford made the right choice to go public. With his history of media attention, there would have been a lot of scepticism if he’d pulled out of the mayoral race without an explanation. But this shouldn’t set the precedent that all politicians need to release details of their medical history.

Now that Ford has made the appropriate statement, the media needs to respect the fact that he’s sick and leave him alone.

Journal Editorial Board


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