CIA, Canadian  government funded cold-war era experiments at  
Psychology  Department

By Josh Ginsberg
News Writer - McGill Daily

Five  decades after a McGill researcher subjected her to massive   
electroshocks, experimental drugs, and forced her to listen to hours   
of recorded messages as part of a U.S. experiment in brainwashing, a   
Montreal woman is seeking compensation from the Canadian  government.

Janine Huard was one of hundreds of people who Dr. Ewen  Cameron  
experimented on without their knowledge in the late 1950s and  early  
1960s. Last week, her lawyers argued before a federal court  judge  
that she should be allowed to file a class-action lawsuit  against the  
government of Canada, who funded the experiments jointly  with the  
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Cameron first  treated Huard in 1951 when she went to see him for post- 
partum depression.  She continued to see the doctor until 1962, during  
which time she  served unwittingly as a participant in Cameron’s   

As director of McGill’s Allan Memorial Institute,  Cameron developed  
“psychic driving,” a technique that he hoped would  cure mental  
patients by erasing their memories and constructing a new  psyche for  
them. To this end, Cameron used electroshock and drugs such  as LSD to  
“depattern” his patients, returning them to a childlike  state and  
leaving them open to suggestions from recordings played over  and over  
again while they slept. His work attracted the attention of  the CIA  
who, from 1957 to 1960, funded Cameron’s research as part of  the  
infamous Project MKULTRA, aimed at developing a mind-control  technique.

Huard received $67,000 U.S. from the CIA in 1988 as recompense  for  
her ordeal, but has been denied similar compensation from  the  
Canadian government three times on the grounds that she was not  fully  
depatterned. In 1994, the government handed out $100,000 to 77  of  
Cameron’s victims.

In a book on the experiments first  published in 1988, author Anne  
Collins supports the government’s  contention, writing that although  
Huard was exposed to electric shock  and drugs “to the point that she  
had suffered extended periods of  involuntary trembling,” she was not  
actually depatterned.

But  Huard’s lawyer Allan Stein disputed this claim.

“In my opinion, [Huard]  was totally depatterned. She was subjected to  
not only electroschock  treatment but also psychic driving,” he said.

So far, the court has not  decided whether to allow the class action  
suit to proceed. The  government is contesting the application on the  
grounds that Huard  waited too long to file the suit – Cameron died  
more than 40 years  ago, and it has been ten years since the court  
rejected her last  claim.

Stein was unwilling to express optimism that the court would   
ultimately allow the suit to proceed. However, he said that the   
merits of the case and the exceptional circumstances surrounding it   
were strong enough to justify a decision in Huard’s favour. He also   
encouraged the public to write letters in support of Huard to Justice   
Minister Robert Nicholson.

Stein added that he was surprised and  disappointed that McGill has  
not made a public statement about the  case, or apologized for what  
happened to Huard.

By press time,  no McGill official would comment on the matter.
Edward Dunbar
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310/536-0211,  ex.  3