McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) are reviewing a social media comment made by cardiologist Dr. Eva Lonn after she wrote about pro-Palestinian protesters, “deport them all to where they come from.”
Lonn, a prominent medical director and professor of medicine at McMaster, made the comment on LinkedIn in response to a New York Post article about a peaceful protest that closed the Brooklyn Bridge in late October.
A screenshot of Lonn’s comment was widely shared on social media last week, sparking outrage. An online petition demanding that McMaster address Lonn’s comment had more than 6,000 signatures as of Monday.
Lonn has since apologized and deactivated his social media accounts.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain my recent comments on social media have caused and I apologize wholeheartedly,” he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, late last week.
“My comment… was made in the heat of the moment and without adequate consideration of the broader implications.”
Lonn said she had been visiting family in Israel when Hamas militants attacked on Oct. 7 and that she “returned to Canada deeply traumatized.”
She told CBC Hamilton on Monday that she deactivated her social media accounts due to the “flurry” of posts and emails following her apology, most of which were “very insulting” and some threatened her and her family with physical violence.
McMaster University said in a statement that his comment does not align with its values and is being reviewed. He did not provide more specific details for privacy reasons. HHS, which runs the three hospitals where Lonn has privileges, said it is also investigating the incident.
‘Extremely problematic’ comment
National Council of Canadian Muslims spokesperson Uthman Quick said it was “extremely problematic” that a doctor who is in a position of authority and cares about others would make the comment.
“A lot of people in our community were really upset; it’s completely unacceptable and plays into the dangerous idea that there is something inherently wrong with supporting Palestinian rights or calling for a ceasefire,” he said.
“If this person is your teacher or doctor, how are you supposed to feel like they think you don’t belong here?”
In his apology, Lonn said his intention was to condemn people “who supported violent means and made very hurtful comments towards the Jewish people.”
The conflict between Israel and Hamas has sparked protests around the world and revealed tensions within Canada.
The recent fighting began on October 7 when Hamas militants invaded southern Israel, killing about 1,400 people and taking more than 200 hostages.
In response, Israel launched airstrikes and a ground invasion of Gaza, actions that had killed 10,000 Palestinians as of Monday, according to Palestinian health authorities.
On Saturday, thousands of people marched in front of the US consulate in Toronto in support of the Palestinians and called for an immediate ceasefire, something neither the US nor Canadian governments have done.
Palestinian supporters in Hamilton also marched through the city center on Sunday.
On Monday, the heads of several major United Nations bodies made a joint call for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
Lonn’s comment is the latest in a series of high-profile incidents involving war-related social media posts.
A Toronto-area doctor was suspended from a hospital last month after making pro-Palestinian statements on social media. And an Ottawa principal has apologized for asking a student to remove an image of a Palestinian flag from his online profile photo.
Hamilton MP Sarah Jama was expelled from the NDP caucus following comments she made in support of the people of Gaza and was censured in the legislature by the Progressive Conservatives.