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By ​Janice Arnold, Staff Reporter​ - February 25, 2019 578 ​0

The Allan Memorial Institute is located in Ra-venscrag, the mansion that was the home of Sir Hugh Allan, a

19th-century shipping magnate. (Thomas1313/Wikimedia Commons photo)

Not one, but two legal actions have been launched by relatives of people who were

subjected many years ago to discredited treatments at a well-known Montreal

psychiatric facility.
This is the latest chapter in a decades-long battle for justice for patients who underwent

“de-patterning” between 1948 and 1964, under the supervision of Dr. Ewen Cameron at

the Royal Victoria Hospital’s (RVH) Allan Memorial Institute.

These experimental procedures, which were administered without informed consent,

left hundred of patients with permanent psychological damage and have had lasting

negative effects on their families, the two actions allege.

The first, filed on Jan. 24 in Quebec Superior Court, is an application for class action

that was launched by Julie Tanny. The other is a $1 million per family lawsuit led by

plaintiffs Marilyn Rappaport and Alison Steel that’s dated Feb. 13.

The class action application, which is being handled by the Consumer Law Group in the

public interest, seeks unspecified damages from the RVH, McGill University Health

Centre (the Allan was jointly administered by the RVH and McGill at the time) and the

attorneys general of Canada and the United States.

It’s alleged that the two governments funded the work conducted by Cameron, a

prominent psychiatrist and American citizen who was the founding director of the Allan

in 1943.

The Central Intelligence Agency’s support of Cameron’s mind control research was

exposed back in 1977 by the ​New York Times​.

None of the four parties listed – or the CIA – has ever admitted culpability in the


Tanny said that over 300 relatives of former patients across Canada and elsewhere

have signed onto the suit so far. A court must first authorize a class action application

before it is heard.
“For whatever reason, a lot of Jewish people are involved in this,” she said. Jews have

been active in seeking redress over the years, the most high-profile case being that of

Velma Orlikow, the wife of former Winnipeg MP David Orlikow, who was among nine

former patients who reached a landmark settlement with the CIA in 1988.

The 81-page application for a class action lawsuit speaks of “extreme mind-control

brainwashing experimentation on unwitting patients, making a mockery of the

doctor-patient relationship.…

“Simply put, the Montreal experiments were a form of psychological torture inflicted

upon hundreds of unsuspecting persons and which had traumatizing, damaging and

emotionally crippling effects that lasted for the remainder of their lives and lives of their


Frequent complaints have included memory loss, altered personality and impaired

cognitive functioning.

The filing, which was signed by attorney Andrea Grass, alleges that patients were

subjected to “drug-induced sleep/coma, intensive electroconvulsive therapy (ECT),

psychic driving, sensory deprivation and the administration of various barbiturates,

chemical agents and medications to suppress nerve functionality and activation.”

Psychic driving is defined as subjecting patients to taped messages repeated between

250,000 and 500,000 times.

The lead applicant’s father, the late Charles Tanny, was admitted to the Allan on Jan. 4,

1957, after suffering from facial pain for six years.

The suit states that, “At 8 p.m. that same day (of his admission), Mr. Tanny was placed

on sleep treatment. More particularly, Mr. Tanny was placed into an insulin-induced
coma where he slept for the majority of the day for the duration of approximately 50

days, in combination with the administration of barbiturates and anti-psychotic drugs.”

It goes on to detail his repeated ECT treatments accompanied by “large quantities” of


After his discharge, his family found him “very disoriented and confused and he did not

remember who he was, who his family was, that he had children or that he owned a

business that bought and sold surplus goods from the government.”

The filing states that Tanny “never regained his affectionate disposition, instead he was

distant, strict, volatile and violent.”

His daughter, who’s now 65, and her two siblings lost a loving and involved father

forever, according to the filing.

As a result, Julie Tanny claims she suffered mental health issues all her life.

She said that if the class action suit is successful, “history will be made” and a lot of

relatives’ long-suppressed pain will be relieved.

The second action, which is being handled by lawyer Alan Stein, names the RVH, the

McGill University Health Centre and the Attorney General of Canada as defendants.

His clients are seeking $850,000 for physical and emotional damages, plus $150,000 in

punitive and exemplary damages per family.

More than 60 mandators – children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews and other

relatives – have joined the two plaintiffs.

The suit alleges that Cameron received four grants from the Canadian Department of

National Health and Welfare between 1948 and 1964 totalling $162,206.41. Adjusted

for inflation, today that would be approximately $1,696,350, it is claimed.

Most of these patients did not have serious psychiatric problems, including many

women with postpartum depression, the suit alleges.

It argues that the treatments “further aggravated the mental health of the subjects”

and constitutes a “conscious breach of ethics,” even by the scientific knowledge of the


The suit cites a 1986 government report written by lawyer George Cooper, which

concluded that Cameron’s methods had “no therapeutic benefit nor any basis therefore

in medicine or science.”

While it did not admit liability, in 1992, the Canadian government made ex gratia

payments of $100,000 each to still-living patients who were “de-patterned” at the Allan

between 1950 and 1965. Stein led subsequent legal efforts to expand the eligibility for

these goodwill payments.

The current suit stresses that nothing has ever been offered to the families. Last year, a

number of relatives, including Rappaport, formed a group called Survivors Allied

Against Government Abuse to explore their legal options.

Rappaport’s older sister, Evelyn Rappaport, now 76 and a resident of the Grace Dart

Extended Care Centre, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1960. She was referred to

the Allan by the Jewish General Hospital. Medical records show that by Feb. 28, 1963,

she had undergone 103 rounds of ECT.

Marilyn Rappaport said that her sister was never the same. Evelyn Rappaport was

eventually permanently institutionalized and Marilyn Rappaport has been her caretaker
throughout her adult life, even though her sister does not acknowledge their familial