James Lunney is a Conservative Party MP from Nanaimo-Alberni in British Columbia. Lunney is currently facing one of the silliest and petty legal challenges that I’ve ever seen.
Lunney sued for using the term ‘doctor’
Constituent says MP misled the voters before the federal election
Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney is being sued by a man who claims the chiropractor has misused the title of doctor for political gain.
Nanaimo’s Robert Pound, in documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court in September, claims that Lunney’s use of the term doctor has been confusing to voters and others.
In December, Pound initiated inquiries with the B.C. College of Chiropractors.
“As I read Section 20 of the B.C. Chiropractors Act, a chiropractor licensed in B.C. is specifically prohibited from identifying himself publicly as ‘Dr. John Smith.’
20 (1) A chiropractor registered under this Act, who holds the academic qualification of Doctor of Chiropractic granted by a college of chiropractic for a course of studies accepted by the board as qualification for registration under this Act, may display or make use of the title “doctor” or the abbreviation “Dr.”, but only as “Doctor of Chiropractic”, “Dr. of Chiropractic”, “Chiropractic Doctor” or “Chiropractic Dr.”.
(2) Despite subsection (1), a chiropractor must not use the title “doctor” or the abbreviation “Dr.” in such a way as to suggest an occupation relating to the treatment of human ailments, other than as permitted under this Act.
(3) On application from a chiropractor registered on or before January 1, 1984 to practise in British Columbia, the board may grant to that chiropractor the right to use the title “doctor” or the abbreviation “Dr.” as set out in subsection (1), if the board is satisfied that the academic qualification of the chiropractor is the equivalent of the academic program leading to the degree of Doctor of Chiropractic as granted in Canada.
Paragraph 1 tells us that Lunney is permitted to use the abbreviation “Dr.” or “doctor” but only within the following titles “Doctor of Chiropractic”, “Dr. of Chiropractic”, “Chiropractic Doctor” or “Chiropractic Dr.”
Paragraph 2 tells us that he is permitted to do so as long as he doesn’t mislead people to believe that he’s a doctor doctor (ie. an MD).
Paragraph 3 describes a time-based exception.
The first paragraph is clear… Lunney appears to be misrepresenting himself when he calls himself “Dr. James Lunney”.
BUT, of course he is only misrepresenting himself in such a way if he is practising under the jurisdiction of the B.C. Chiropractors Act.
Let me elaborate here. Medical doctors go to medical school. Upon graduation they become a “Doctor of Medicine”. David Suzuki did not go to medical school. Suzuki is a scientist and received his PhD in Zoology. Dr. David Suzuki identifies himself with the “Dr.” title because he earned his doctorate in that field of study. Sociologists, geologists, and art historians also are able to earn doctorates in their fields. (Aside: Ironically, these doctorates are graduate degrees, while doctor of medicine (MD) is an undergraduate degree.)
Here’s my point: Dr. David Suzuki would also be in violation of the BC Chiropractors Act (in many ways, but with respect to section 20 for this argument) if he practised as a chiropractor and simply used the “Dr.” title. However, since David Suzuki doesn’t practise as a chiropractor, he is certainly permitted to use the “Dr.” bestowed upon him after earning his doctoral degree.
Similarly James Lunney has a doctoral degree in chiropractic medicine (one assumes) and thus he is able to identify himself this way (“Dr.”) so long as he doesn’t do this while practising chiropractic medicine under BC law.
Like Dr. Suzuki, Dr. Phil (PhD), Dr. Stephen Colbert (D.F.A.) and anyone else with a non-MD doctoral degree, he is allowed to self-identify himself as “Dr.” because he earned that degree.
He would only be in violation of the act if he self-identified in this way to patients while in practice of chiropractic medicine.
That’s my take. What do you think?
UPDATE: Also consider Dr. Ruby Dhalla (she too is a Doctor of Chiropractic)