This is the first installment of a three-part series on Dr. John O'Connor, the family physician to first identify higher-than-average cancer rates and rare forms of cancer in communities downstream of the Alberta oilsands.
Part 1: The Doctor and the Dawn of a New Oilsands Era: 'It Was Fascinating'
The day John O’Connor landed in Canada from his native Ireland,* he had no idea how much he would end up giving to this land, nor how much it would ultimately demand from him.
“I had no intention of staying in Canada,” he told DeSmog Canada in a recent interview. “The intention was to go back.”
“But I got enchanted with Canada.”
That was back in 1984 when O’Connor first arrived in Canada for a three-month locum.
With a large family practice already well established in Scotland, O’Connor had no real intention of settling in this foreign land where, in a few decades, he would find himself embroiled in a national conflict — a conflict that would pick at so many of our country’s deepest-running wounds involving oil, First Nations and the winners and losers of our resource race.
No, when O’Connor landed in Canada he was just planning to fill a temporary family physician position in Nova Scotia. Soon after his arrival, however, his light curiosity about Canada transformed into a newfound passion. He was hooked.