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Member of Alberta premier’s staff questions Calgary doctor’s political motives as others rally to his defence

Dr. Joe Vipond has spoken at a number of rallies in Calgary and Edmonton, fighting for more policies to protect Albertans from the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Joe Vipond has spoken at a number of rallies in Calgary and Edmonton, fighting for more policies to protect Albertans from the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Joe Vipond, a Calgary emergency room doctor who has been very vocal about the province's response to COVID-19, is now being criticized over alleged ties to the Alberta NDP.

Since the pandemic began, Vipond has been an active voice about masking, maintaining health restrictions and encouraging vaccination.

More recently, he's spearheaded a number of rallies taking aim at the government's decision to relax isolation, contact tracing and even testing of COVID-19 cases in mid-August.

Now, critics are accusing him of being too connected to the Alberta NDP, saying he has also donated to the party.

Vipond doesn't deny that he's contributed to that party, but says that's the right of every Canadian.

"There is a record of me donating to one political party," Vipond said during an interview with CTV News on Sunday. "I would just like to say that's a normal part of our electoral process and it's a normal part of our democracy.

Critics of the doctor include staff within the government, including the premier’s issues manager, Matt Wolf, who noted the donations on Twitter.

Soon, Vipond’s perfectly legal personal donations became a touchstone in the public health debate, sparking more critics as well as defenders.

Vipond himself said he felt compelled to reveal his party donations on Twitter, which further fuelled interest in the issue.

"If I'm invalidated for having opinions on public policy because I've engaged in the legal, democratic process, then I would hope the view would be the same for others who've donated to other political parties."

He said his connection to the Alberta NDP stops at that point.

"I've never received any money from the NDP, I've never been professionally engaged with the NDP. I've had policy meetings with them, as I have with other political parties.

"This is an element to invalidate the discussion points that I've put out there, the same discussion points that have also been out by Dr. Theresa Tam, the Canadian Pediatric Society, other (Chief Medical Officers of Health) across the country, other physicians here in Alberta."

Vipond said the rhetoric against him is "a testament that their voices have been effective."

"They're struggling to find ways to invalidate the important points that we are putting out there."

He added he was invited to run in the 2015 federal election by three different political parties, but he declined all of those invitations.

"I think that also speaks to how I am non-partisan."

David Fisman, a professor in the epidemiology division at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, lauded Vipond's stance.

The rallies in Calgary and Edmonton are expected to continue throughout the week. Top Stories

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