Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Chair of CMAJ governance panel steps down for health reasons

In yet another loose strand of a story that has unravelled steadily over the past few months, the chair of the panel launched by the Canadian Medical Association to recommend a new governance structure for the Canadian Medical Association Journal has resigned, for health reasons. The panel was to have reported back to the association in June, but that now seems unlikely. Mr. Justice Antonio Lamer, 72, a former judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, was brought in to give some impression of stability after two senior editors of the journal were fired in what seems to have been the result of a dispute sparked by the CMA’s decision to privatize the publication. For background, see earlier posts including here and here.

Meanwhile, the two fired editors, Dr. John Hoey and Ann Marie Todkill, have been awarded the 2006 World Press Freedom award by the National Press Club. "Editors should be free to express critical but responsible views about all aspects of medicine without fear of retribution, even if those views might conflict with the commercial goals of the publisher," Spencer Moore of the press club told the Canadian Press before the ceremony Wednesday to present the $2,000 award.

Hoey and Todkill have not spoken publicly about the specific events leading up to their firing. Both had signed confidentiality agreements before the controversy arose.

However, details of the conflict with journal publisher Graham Morris have leaked out, and led almost all members of the publication's editorial board to resign in protest. Several of the departed board members have said they are actively exploring the possibility of setting up a rival journal, possibly online.


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