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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Eccentric Quebec ex-doctor released from prison

Ghislaine Lanctôt is out of jail, for now.

The Stukely-Sud woman (right, on the front page of Le Reflet du Lac on March 23), who had her medical licence revoked in 1997 after publishing an anti-vaccine screed called "The Medical Mafia," was being held for refusing to pay income tax since 1995 and then refusing to cooperate with the Quebec courts during proceedings this year, claiming her name was not Ghislaine Lanctôt but was rather the mathematical symbol for infinity, ∞, though she often refers to herself simply as Ghis. (She claims she was jailed for "refusing to endorse the fictional corporation of LANCTÔT, GHISLAINE.")

After the province issued the arrest warrant in March that led to her incarceration, I wrote the following in the National Review of Medicine:

New legal woes for anti-tax ex-MD
STUKELY-SUD — Tax time is coming up fast, but one former Quebec doctor definitely won't be filing. An arrest warrant was issued early last month for Ghislaine Lanctôt, 66, for refusing to pay income tax since 1995. Ms Lanctot, who last year informed the provincial Attorney General's office she prefers to known by the name, lost her medical licence in 1997 for her anti-vaccination publication The Medical Mafia. She also refuses to use a driver's licence or health card. "Those are for the sheep," she said. "NO RELATIONSHIP PRESENTLY EXISTS BETWEEN THE LANCTOT, GHISLAINE CORPORATION AND THE HUMAN BEING, WITH A BODY, A SOUL AND A SPIRIT," was her response to the warrant. "It's a very unusual case," a government prosecutor told La Voix de l'Est.
Unusual indeed. Among the many strange twists in this case, she not only refuses to own a driver's licence -- she's even designed her own licence plate. Check it out:

Je me souviens de qui je suis is also the name of Ms Lanctôt's endlessly fascinating website. Be sure to take a look at this cartoon on her site about her time in Tanguay prison:
For our unilingual readers: the text at the top reads "The Tanguay prison, where Ghis is held, is invaded by rats" and Ms Lanctôt is saying "The sheep don't want to hear it, but the rats understand everything." The title of her drawing on the wall (the cartoon within the cartoon) is "The big picture." I can translate the text, but unfortunately I cannot even begin to explain what on earth the meaning is.

Yesterday morning, after a hearing at Granby courthouse, Ms Lanctôt was released from jail, reports Radio-Canada.

The Quebec judge, Pierre Bachand, agreed to defer the lawsuit while a similar case, against David Lindsay in Kelowna, British Columbia, who also refuses to be known by his given name, is decided. (Ms Lanctôt's website includes a link to a letter from Mr Lindsay about his case.) Ms Lanctôt is now a free woman.


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