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Assault on editorial independence: improprieties of the Canadian Medical Association
  1. Jerome P Kassirer
  1. Correspondence to:
 Jerome P Kassirer
 M.D., Tufts University School of Medicine, 136 Harrison Ave., Boston MA 02111; jpkassirer{at}

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The violation of editorial independence by the CMA seriously damaged trust in CMAJ and raises questions whether the CMA can operate a truly independent journal

On February 20, 2006, John Hoey and Anne Marie Todkill, the two most senior editors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) were fired by the journal’s publisher, Graham Morris. At first, CMA spokespersons said that the firing had been planned for some time based on a desire to “refresh” the journal. Later they refused to offer any explanation, and weeks later they declared that there had been “irreconcilable differences,” without specifying anything more. After the journal’s editorial board tried fruitlessly to convince the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) to reinstate the dismissed editors, I resigned from the editorial board. I had been a member (the only American) since 1999. My letter of resignation to the CMA’s president made these points:

 “By interfering with the editorial autonomy of two outstanding editors and firing them without explanation, you have provoked a scandal that will be long remembered as a blot on Canadian Medicine. … Despite the acknowledged success of the CMAJ, you gave no cause for the editors’ dismissals. … You caused the editors to be fired without consultation with major members of the Journal Oversight Committee. … In your public comments, you were even disingenuous about whether the editors were fired. … In answering to the issue of the editors’ departure, you have hidden behind a veil of bureaucratic legalisms, and by arguing that the Editorial Board knows only “one side,” you have left the impression that the editors have done something nefarious. Thereby, you have besmirched the good names and reputations of the editors. … You have mounted a PR campaign to “spin” public opinion at the expense of honest, respectable and hard working …

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  • Competing interests: None.