When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy movement in Canada, few people carry as much weight as Dr. Byram Bridle. And speaking of weight, Bridle is using his now to sue the institution that gave him tenure and where he was, until recently, a valued faculty member. Bridle is suing the University of Guelph and key executive and faculty members for $3 million dollars.
In the statement of claim, Bridle is demanding general damages of $500,000; restitution from the university for $1.5 million for lost grants and research funding; $500,000 in aggravated damages; $500,000 in aggravated damages; and prejudgment and post judgment interests. He also wants a declaration that publicly-funded universities are subject to constitutional review, and an interim and permanent injunction to allow him to freely access the University of Guelph campus.
The defendants are a proverbial Murder’s Row of leaders at the U of G including president and vice-chancellor Charlotte Yates, Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) dean Dr. Jeffrey Wichtel, vice-president of faculty relations Laurie Arnott and OVC professor Dr. Amy Greer who’s been repeatedly used as a media resource in the course of understanding the pandemic.
University of Toronto epidemiology researcher Dr. David Fisman, Northshore HR workplace investigator Nick Duley, and the anonymous creator(s) of Bridle-critical website that the statement childishly identifies as “Jane or John Doe Junior Scientist” are also identified as defendants. The statement further claims that the anonymous website is in collusion with Fisman and fellow defendants Dr. Glen Pyle, a biomedical sciences prof at the U of G, and Dr. J. Scott Weese, a professor and researcher at the OVC.
Bridle claims that he was a victim of a sustained campaign of harassment about his work as a scientist as well as personal attacks, and that these issues increased after a May 2021 interview on an AM640 show hosted by Alex Pierson.
Pearson has also expressed science denialism in the fight against COVID-19, and in his appearance on her show, Bridle said that the spike protein in the mRNA vaccines were causing more damage to the body than most people were aware of, a claim that many scientists, even ones outside the scope of Bridle’s statement of claim, said was misleading. The interview was picked up by many vaccine hesitant and science denial media outlets like LifeSite News.
As Bridle’s star rose in the arenas of the vaccine hesitancy movement, 80 U of G scientists – including now named defendants Greer, Weese, and Pyle – signed an open letter that did call out Bridle by name. “Many people have limited understanding of the complexities of immunization against infectious agents, and rely on scientists in epidemiology and immunology to share their knowledge and experience, especially at times such as these when fear is high. Misinformation spread by individuals such as Dr. Bridle targets uncertainty,” the letter read.
“Academic freedom is important but should not be a license to spread misinformation that has been clearly refuted, including by authors of publications that Dr. Bridle cites in support of his statements.7 Some may even consider the University of Guelph complicit by failing to provide a clear and effective response to this misinformation campaign, which is impacting the reputation of the institution and its faculty.”
Bridle wrote his own open letter in September 2021 that was carried on numerous websites including the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which would later represent or advocate for numerous members of the Freedom Convoy. In the lengthy 9-page letter, Bridle made some initial claims that he was not just the victim or harassment, but criminal harassment.
“You have allowed colleagues to harass me endlessly for many consecutive months. They have lied about me, called me many names, and have even accused me of being responsible for deaths,” Bridle wrote. “I submitted a harassment claim and your administrators ruled that it did not meet the bar of civil harassment. In stark contrast, I have been contacted by members of off-campus policing agencies who have told me that it exceeds the minimum bar of criminal harassment.”
Interestingly, the U of G was not only fine with Bridle’s skepticism with mRNA technology in the beginning, they also helped promote it. In an article that’s still active on the U of G’s website, Bridle is advertised as an expert available for media interviews due to his “worries” that the test results from Pfizer and Moderna were released without “full scrutiny of the results.”
“Subunit vaccines like these can be misinterpreted by the immune system as an extracellular pathogen,” Bridle said in November 2020. “That creates the possibility that those who receive such a vaccine might have a ‘bias’ imprinted on their immune system that could cause them to respond sub-optimally to natural infections with future coronaviruses.”
Whatever level of harassment he’s suffered since, it hasn’t stopped Bridle from continuing his advocacy as one of the most frequently cited vaccine hesitant voices with a scientific background. He appeared at several area protests in solidarity with the Freedom Convoy, he was a speaker at a town hall of fellow activists in April and he appeared in court as a witness for a mother that wanted to stop her 11-year-old son’s father from getting the boy vaccinated.
In that case, Justice Sheilagh O’Connell wrote her decision that while Bridle is an expert in his field, “the court does not accept that Dr. Bridle is qualified to give opinion evidence with respect to the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine for children.”
The statement of claim was posted on the website of the Constitutional Rights Centre, which has been involved in other court cases concerning vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 protective measures. It’s unclear if they’re representing or sponsoring Bridle’s suit against the University of Guelph and others.