Monday, May 15, 2006

CMAJ Editor speaks out; says he was fired without cause

The New England Journal of Medicine has published a letter (which it solicited) from Dr. John Hoey, the former editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Dr. Hoey says that, while the CMA refused to give a reason for firing him, his exploration of politically sensitive issues may have led to his dismissal. It was the first time he had spoken or written about the dispute. The CBC website has a report.

While Hoey and his former deputy editor, Anne Marie Todkill, are bound by confidentiality agreements not to talk about the circumstances of their dismissal, Hoey said in his letter that a medical journal must address controversial issues, and to do otherwise would be "irresponsible".

"The notion that politically sensitive topics can be expunged from a medical journal is folly," he wrote.

In a comment accompanying the letter, said the CBC, University of Toronto bioethicist Peter Singer and former CMAJ editor Gordon Guyatt argue that the CMA should reinstate Hoey and Todkill unless it can provide a compelling reason for their dismissals. Singer and Guyatt offered 'a second best alternative' in the event that the former editors are not reinstated.

"The CMA should agree to charge an independent body of highly qualified and disinterested individuals with the selection of a new editor," they wrote.

Meanwhile taking over as head of the blue ribbon panel charged with advising the CMA in the matter (after the premature departure of Mr. Justice Antonio Lamer) is Dick Pound, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency and a member of the International Olympic Committee.

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