Canadian Medical Association resigns from world body amid plagiarism accusations

The Canadian Medical Association says it has resigned from the World Medical Association and is accusing the international group's incoming president of plagiarizing his inaugural speech.

In a statement released on Saturday, the CMA said it discovered that part of Dr. Leonid Eidelman's speech was taken from a former CMA president's speech in 2014.

"Multiple other parts of the speech were also copied from various websites, blogs and news articles, without appropriate attribution to the authors," the CMA statement read.

Current CMA president Gigi Osler said she and a Canadian delegation were in Iceland this week for the WMA's annual general assembly, where major issues and topics in medicine are discussed.

Osler said she and other delegates found that a section of Eidelman's inaugural address was "copied word for word" from a speech given by former CMA president Dr. Chris Simpson in 2014.

'Decided to take a stand'

"We then decided to take a stand against what we considered an ethical breach," Osler said.

The Canadian delegation presented a motion to the assembly requesting that Eidelman resign, but Osler said it was defeated, which led the CMA to pull its membership from the world body.

"Leaders have to uphold high standards of ethics and professionalism and so we are disappointed," she said in an interview.

A spokesman for the WMA wrote in an email that Eidelman was not aware his speech was plagiarized because he used speech writers.

Nigel Duncan said Eidelman apologized at the general assembly, and acknowledges that part of his speech was taken from Simpson.

WMA: We hope they will return

WMA vice chairman, Frank Montgomery, released a statement Saturday responding to the CMA's resignation.

"We very much regret Canada's decision. Delegates from the Canadian Medical Association have been valuable participants in WMA affairs for many years," Montgomery said.

"We hope that in time they will return to the association and we will welcome that day."

Osler said she and the Canadian delegation had left the assembly and that its members were not present for Eidelman's apology.

She said she's open to discussing with the CMA a possible return to the WMA, but as of now she stands by the decision to step away from the world body.

"We must continue to hold ourselves to a high standard of professionalism and ethical behaviour," said Osler. "We are going to strive to uphold honesty, humility, integrity and prudence."

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