Aprll 30, 2001
Dr. Robert Birgeneau President
University of Toronto Room 206t Simcoe Hall
27 King' s College Circle Toronto ON M5S 1A
Dear President Birgeneau:
We would like to ask once again, as we did in our letter of March 29.2000 for an opportunity to meet with you about the Treatment of Dr. David Healy by me University of Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
Your reply of April 18, 2001 takes the narrowest possible construction of our letter to you. Our principal concern, which you sidestep, was that Dr. Healy's employment contract was revoked because of a talk he gave on November 30, 2000 at a conference in Toronto. This raises grave concerns about academic freedom - concerns that we want to discuss with you. You only address our secondary point (one that we said ..intensifies our concern"). namely the possibility of a link between the revocation and Dr. Healy's critical commentary about a drug manufactured by a drug company that CAMH refers to as one of its "lead donors" (see http:www.camh.net/foundation/foundation_news_winter2000.html).
The principal thrust of your reply was to assure us that the revocation of Dr. Healy's employment contract was "not influenced in any way by Eli Lilly or by any other pharmaceutical manufacturer." That may well be true. But the fact remains that the University of Toronto and CAMH revoked an employment contract of a very senior academic because of the content of an academic talk he gave after he had been hired but before he assumed his new position. Whether the pressure came from a pharmaceutical manufacturer, from a University or CAMH official worried about offending a donor, or from administrators at the University and/or CAMH without any thought of the pharmaceutical industry, the action appears to be a very serious attack on academic freedom that should not be countenanced by any university in this country.
A secondary theme in your reply is that CAMH made the decision and the University could not. However, the fact is that the University has an affiliation agreement with CAMH that identifies "respect for intellectual integrity, freedom of inquiry and rational discussion" as one of the four principles that guides the relationship between the parties. CAMH's reputation, its ability to attract excellent staff, and its public recognition derive in no small part from its affiliation to the University of Toronto. For affiliation to have any meaning, the University must be able to assure that its affiliated partners live up to the principles stated in the affiliation agreement.
You conclude your letter by expressing offense at our suggestion that academic freedom may have been abridged in this case. You say our concerns are '"groundless". This is hard to imagine given the documentary evidence we have seen, but, even so, our concerns certainly should not be offensive to you. Academic freedom is the cornerstone of any university, and any apparent violation of that freedom must engender deep concern and an active consideration. This case merits full investigation. We hope that you will meet with us to discuss it further.
James L. Turk
Cc: Rhonda Love. President, University of Toronto Faculty Association
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)