29 March, 200I
By fax: (416) 971-1360
Dr. Robert Birgeneau President
University of Toronto
27 King's College Circle Toronto ON M5S 1A1
Dear President Birgeneau:
We would like to meet with you as soon as possible to discuss a very disturbing situation that has recently been brought to our attention. It appears that there has been a very serious violation of academic freedom at the University of Toronto that requires remedy.
In brief, the case is that of Dr. David Healy, a widely respected psychopharmacologist in Great Britain who was actively recruited for a position in the Department of Psychiatry and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
He was brought in for a three-day visit to CAMH and the Department in July 1999. Following his visit, Dr. Paul Garfinkel, Chair of the University's Department of Psychiatry, wrote Healy on August 4, 1999, a congratulatory letter in which he expressed hope that, during a future visit, they could "discuss more specifically the arrangements for you in Toronto." He also indicated a desire to arrange meetings for Healy's wife "so that she, too, might look forward to a good opportunity in Toronto."
On January 28,2000, Dr. Sidney Kennedy, Professor or Psychiatry and Head, Mood & Anxiety Division, CAMH, wrote to Healy discussing details of an offer to be appointed a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and Clinical Director for the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at CAMH. The letter described Healy's role as Clinical Director and as a Professor of Psychiatry - It also spelled out what Healy would earn. Kennedy noted that "this offer" is contingent on being licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Kennedy concluded: "I am extremely enthusiastic about your interest in this position and I believe that you will bring an important line of critical inquiry and clinical research acumen to this department." He asked for Healy's reply in writing as soon as possible. -2- On May I, 2000, University of Toronto Vice-Provost David Cook sent Healy a memo confirming that "our offer of employment to you for the coming academic year has been approved by Human Resources Development Canada." Cook advised Healy to apply for immigrant visas for .himself and his family and indicated that the U university had engaged "at our expense Stanley B. Bush, Esq...as legal counsel on your behalf."
On August 17,2000, Dr. David Goldbloom, Physician-in-Chief at CAMH and Professor of Psychiatry at U of T, and Georgina Veldhorst, Vice-President, Mental Health Programs, CAMH, wrote to Healy "to offer you formally the position of Clinical Director, Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, CAMH." They indicated the position's reporting relationships and noted that "the term of the appointment is for 5 years and is renewable contingent upon successful external review of the program." They also indicated Healy's remuneration as a professor at the University of Toronto and his expected income from CAMH.
In November, Gold bloom gave Healy a handwritten note with the names of people he could contact in Toronto to find out about suitable schools for his children.
On November 30, Healy was one of a number of widely respected psychiatrists who spoke at a colloquium in Toronto: "Looking Back. Looking Ahead - Psychiatry in the 21st Century: Mental Illness and Addiction." Four days later, on December 4, Gold bloom sent Healy an email indicating it was "extremely important" that he and Kennedy speak with Healy by telephone. On December 5, Kennedy sent an email to Healy asking Healy to phone him at home and wishing him well in New York. (Healy was in New York giving a talk - the same one he gave in Toronto - to the Cornell Westchester Grand Rounds.) Later that day, Healy responded to Goldbloom indicating the best day would be the following Monday, December 11,2000. Gold bloom replied that it would be better if they spoke directly "this week" because of "some urgency." If that was not possible. then his (Goldbloom's) second choice was email. Healy responded on December 7 indicating he was travelling, had been away from his email for two days, and was about to leave so he could not telephone him.
Gold bloom then emailed Healy on December 7 a devastating message. He advised Healy that "the Centre has decided to withdraw its offer of a position of Clinical Director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders program. " Gold bloom added that .'the decision we have made to rescind the offer follows extensive discussion and consensus with the Centre and the University.'.
Gold bloom then gave the reason: "We believe that it is not a good fit between you and the role as leader of an academic program in mood and anxiety disorders at the Centre and in relation to the University. This view was solidified by your recent appearance at the Centre in the context of an academic lecture. While you are held in high regard as a scholar of the history of modem psychiatry, we do not feel your approach is compatible with the goals for development of the academic and clinical resource that we have." Goldbloom added that "this is a difficult piece of news to convey" but that "it is better to do so now than after you and your family would have made the significant upheaval and move to Canada..'
This raises serious concerns. The gravest is that Healy' s job offer was rescinded because of something he said in his talk on November 30 in Toronto. His critical remarks in the Toronto talk were not new and for them to result in retraction of a job offer suggests a fundamental attack on academic freedom. What intensifies our concern is the possibility that the retraction was linked to Healy's observation that Prozac can lead to an increased rate of suicide. Prozac's manufacturer, Eli Lilly, is one of the principal donors to CAMH - having given more than $1.5 million in recent years to fund, among other things, the Eli Lilly Education Centre at CAMH. In light of this, we find Gold bloom's explanation of the action, namely, "we do not feel your approach is compatible with the goals for development of the academic and clinical resource that we have" to be particularly suggestive. What happened to Dr. Healy appears to be an affront to academic freedom in Canada~ We hope you share our concern. We do want an opportunity to meet with you to discuss this matter at your earliest convenience.
Thomas Booth President
J L. Turk
CC: Rhonda Love, President, University of Toronto Faculty Association
- The Lecture
- The E-mails
- The IssuesCAUT
- CAUT again : 3 : 4
- Dr Goldbloom writes to Dr Healy
- Dr Healy replies to Dr Goldbloom
- CBC National - transcript from the CBC program
- Dr Healy's Statement of Claim (24th Sept 2001; MS WORD DOC)
- Press Conference Transcript (24th Sept 2001)