Nova Scotia

Peter Bragg, Leo Glavine's assistant, accused of intimidation tactics

​An Amherst doctor who has spoken out against the Liberal government in a dispute over money for obstetricians claims an official tried to intimidate her into silence.

Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie says government tried to silence her over dispute about money for obstetricians

Peter Bragg, the executive assistant to Health Minister Leo Glavine, is being accused of trying to intimidate an outspoken doctor into silence. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

​An Amherst doctor who has spoken out against the Liberal government in a dispute over money for obstetricians claims an official tried to intimidate her into silence.

Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie said it happened after a meeting on April 20 with Peter Vaughan, the deputy minister of the Department of Health and Wellness.

The obstetrician says Peter Bragg, the executive assistant to Health Minister Leo Glavine, insisted she go to Bragg's office after the meeting. According to her, he started slowly flipping through a file he had on his desk.

"He's sort of flipping through, very bizarrely quiet, and he's flipping though all these sheets," MacQuarrie said Friday. "As I'm looking at it, I recognize these are pictures of me." 

MacQuarrie said the pictures were taken from newspaper clippings and printed from Facebook.

"What struck me was, 'Wow, this would be intimidating if I wasn't me,'" she said.

She said Bragg kept this up for several minutes.

"He sort of kept perusing through this file in what seemed to me a poorly-veiled intimidation of, 'We're watching you.'"

Spoke out about fee increases

MacQuarrie previously spoke out about a drastic increase in the fees obstetricians pay for malpractice insurance to the Canadian Medical Protective Association.

Robyn MacQuarrie, an obstetrician in Amherst, has been outspoken about a drastic increase in the fees obstetricians pay for malpractice insurance to the Canadian Medical Protective Association. (CBC)

The province had been funding the malpractice insurance to the tune of 90 per cent, less a $1,500 deductible.

This year, the physicians found out they would only be reimbursed the same amount of money given in 2014. Since the fee for obstetricians went up $30,000 this year, they were on the hook for that increase.

After several obstetricians complained publicly, Nova Scotia announced it would cover 80 per cent of the increase while contract negotiations continue.

Jamie Baillie, the leader of the Official Opposition, raised the incident on the floor of the legislature on Friday during question period.

"I'd like to ask the minister, did he instruct his executive assistant to keep a file on Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie and other Nova Scotians? Or only those that disagree with his policies?" said Baillie.

Leo Glavine replied: "An emphatic, 'No.'"

Comparisons to Nixon

Outside the chamber, Baillie went even further, comparing what had happened to the vendetta Richard Nixon waged against his political enemies when he was president of the U.S.

"To keep personal files on individuals who are disagreeing with the government about its policies is just wrong," said Baillie.

"Reminds us of Richard Nixon and we don't need that kind of politics here in Nova Scotia."

That characterization had both the premier and health minister scoffing.

"There's a lot of people in the health sector who disagree with us, so to suggest that he's keeping files on someone he's meeting is just absolutely ridiculous," said Premier Stephen McNeil.

With a laugh, Glavine said that he didn't keep files on anybody.

"There's no answer to this," he said.

MacQuarrie called that reaction appalling.

"If we're in a climate where the premier is laughing at what is clearly bullying tactics, I think we need to look at the government that's been formed," said MacQuarrie.

When Bragg was asked by reporters at Province House about what happened, he brushed by them.

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