Forty years after revelations that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency funded brainwashing experiments on unsuspecting Canadians, the Trudeau government is continuing a pattern of silencing the victims, a lawyer for one of the families says.
A recent Department of Justice gag order in an out-of-court settlement was designed to avoid responsibility and avert compensation to more victims and their families, said Alan Stein, who has represented numerous survivors who were once patients at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal.
Stein told CBC News that successive federal governments have demanded confidentiality agreements in at least five of the cases he has settled in the last few decades.
“If they hadn’t been confidential and the settlements had the publicity that they should have had, a lot of the victims would have come forward and gone to court,” he said.
- WATCH | The Fifth Estate: Brainwashed: The secret CIA experiments in Canada Dec. 15 at 9 p.m. on CBC-TV
The Trudeau government’s quiet non-disclosure payment in March 2017 to the daughter of a now-deceased victim is just the latest development in a decades-old scandal that saw both the CIA and the Canadian government fund brutal science experiments on unsuspecting patients.
“They don’t want to have to deal with more applications,” Stein said of the government’s requirement the settlement details be kept confidential and out of the public eye.
Stein’s client, Alison Steel, daughter of victim Jean Steel, also believes the confidentiality clause imposed by the Department of Justice limited the possibility that future victims might come forward.
“Why else would they do it?” she said. “It made me nervous … to even talk to any media.”
Revelations of mental torture on hundreds of Canadian patients first surfaced in the late 1970s and were later the subject of four Fifth Estate documentaries exposing the role of the CIA and the federal government in funding brainwashing experiments during the Cold War.
At the centre of the controversy was Dr. Ewen Cameron, a respected psychiatrist and first director of the Allan Memorial Institute, the psychiatric facility at McGill University where the brainwashing experiments took place from 1950 to 1965.
Cameron, who was also co-founder of the World Psychiatric Association, ran experiments called “psychic driving” and “depatterning” that attempted to erase a patient’s memories and reprogram them with new thoughts.
The federal government provided Cameron with more than $500,000 between 1950 and 1965 — $4 million in today’s dollars — along with a smaller amount of funding from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, using a front organization called the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology.
To this day, neither the CIA nor the Canadian government has apologized for its role in the experiments.
“The Government of Canada should recognize its legal responsibility, which it has never done,” Stein told The Fifth Estate’s Bob McKeown.
H/t reader kevin a.
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