Nfld. & Labrador

Doctor facing racism complaints no longer licensed to practise medicine in N.L.

It remains unclear whether Zachary Kuehner's licence ran out or was revoked, but as of June 10, he was no longer licensed to practise in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Zachary Kuehner's medical licence was deactivated on June 10

The dean of Memorial University's medical school isn't commenting on specifics regarding complaints about Zachary Kuehner. (Memorial University)

The doctor at the centre of racism and bigotry complaints can no longer practise medicine in Newfoundland and Labrador.

According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dr. Zachary Kuehner's licence was no longer active as of June 10 — one day after CBC News published a story detailing complaints against the second-year medical resident.

It remains unclear whether Kuehner's licence was suspended, revoked or voluntarily given up, or if it simply expired.

The CPSNL declined to provide specific information to Kuehner's case.

It is not mandatory for a doctor's licence to be suspended when they enter a complaints process, said CPSNL complaints director Elyse Bruce, but each case is assessed differently.

The college follows provincial legislation when disciplining doctors — the Medical Act of 2011 — but it also has a set of internal regulations that it doesn't release to the public.

Kuehner's Twitter profile has drawn the ire of undergraduate medical students at Memorial University who wrote a letter to the dean of medicine about his use of the word 'Islamophobe' and other social media comments. (Twitter)

Kuehner came under fire when his colleagues at Memorial University's medical school wrote to the dean of medicine, Dr. Margaret Steele, about comments he'd made on social media.

Kuehner argued with his peers about the Black Lives Matter movement, and referred to himself as a racist on two occasions. He denied allegations of racism when contacted by CBC News, and said the comments were taken out of context.

The bio for his Twitter account, which has since been deleted, included the word "Islamophobe."

His social media activity also prompted a letter penned by four Muslim groups, including the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

3rd complaint letter sent to dean

The latest letter of complaint came from a group called Canadian Women in Medicine, whose advocacy co-chairperson, Dr. Michelle Cohen, wrote to Steele on June 12.

"The screenshots of Dr. Kuehner's social media conduct that have been reported in the media are disturbing and call into question his independent judgment and ethics," Cohen wrote.

The letter also took aim at an op-ed Kuehner had written for a newspaper in Thunder Bay, Ont., in which he argued the issues facing the city were not steeped in racism, but rather a result of the hopelessness and dysfunction in the Indigenous communities surrounding the city.

In the piece, Kuehner also took issue with identifying as a "white settler" while practising medicine in Thunder Bay, where he attended undergraduate medical studies.

He wrote that the Northern Ontario School of Medicine was "hell-bent" on producing "physicians comfortable self-flagellating for deeds they did not commit."

Cohen said his comments, all taken together, show Kuehner is "unsafe" to practise medicine with Muslim and Indigenous patients.

"Recent civil unrest and protest against systemic racism in law enforcement have highlighted the importance of addressing racist discrimination in all our major institutions," Cohen wrote. "Now more than ever, the medical establishment in Canada needs to take a clear stand for equity and against bigotry. Words in praise of diversity and representation must be backed by concrete actions."

Dean Steele has said she cannot comment on specifics of action taken against any student, but confirmed there is an active complaints process being followed in Kuehner's case.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


  • A previous version of this story hyperlinked to a different op-ed written by Zachary Kuehner.
    Sep 17, 2020 8:52 PM NT


Ryan Cooke is a multiplatform journalist with CBC News in St. John's. Originally from rural Newfoundland, his career has taken him across the Atlantic provinces and home again. He's earned awards for his reporting on social issues such as justice and housing. His work appears on radio, digital and TV.