On Nov. 28, Justin Trudeau gave a 20-minute speech in the House of Commons to apologize to lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, and two-spirited Canadians who lost their government jobs from the 1950s to 1980s.
Trudeau declared “it was our collective shame that you were so mistreated and it is our collective shame that this apology took so long.”
The government faced a class action lawsuit over past alleged discrimination against homosexuals who lost public servant, RCMP, and military jobs because they ran afoul of decency laws and were suspected of being susceptible to blackmail because homosexual behaviour was illegal at the time. EGALE Canada and the We Demand an Apology Network claim thousands of Canadian government workers were unjustly fired and demanded an apology, compensation, and reconciliation.
Trudeau’s apology comes with a price tag in excess of $100 million, most of which will be used to settle the class action suit. The Globe and Mail estimates 2000-3000 supposed victims could qualify for compensation.
Other money will be used to erect a statue to memorialize homosexuals in the nation’s capital, the funding of curriculum material for schools, and propaganda created by homosexual groups like EGALE, including documentaries and traveling exhibits. Trudeau also vowed to destroy the criminal records of homosexuals charged with various indecency crimes.
Trudeau said that government laws and policies led to not only discrimination against homosexuals but “legitimized hatred and violence” against them.
When Trudeau concluded his speech he received a standing ovation from all but two MPs in the House.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer expressed support and gave a short speech repeating many of the same points Trudeau had made. The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson, who has been urging the government to apologize for nearly two years in his column, said Scheer’s support for the apology signaled that “on the big issues, consensus rules” in Canada.
Conservative MPs Harold Albrecht (Kitchener-Conestoga) and Ted Falk (Provencher) did not join the ovation. Both said they thought the Prime Minister went beyond apologizing for historical wrongs to promote the homosexual lifestyle.
The Liberal Party sent a fundraising email out the evening of the apology indicating that righting alleged past wrongs was only part of Trudeau’s purpose with the speech. Calling it “an exceptionally moving and important speech, (it) reminds us that we can, and must do better to create a stronger, more diverse, and more inclusive society for all of us.”
The Prime Minister told the House, “the changing of hearts and minds is a collective effort,” explaining, “we need to work together, across jurisdictions, with indigenous peoples and LGBTQ2 communities, to make the crucial progress that LGBTQ2 communities deserve.”
Peter Vogel, deputy leader of the Christian Heritage Party, said in a CHP communiqué, that Trudeau’s speech reflected “the current focus on apologies for past wrongs” which “has become an obsession.” Admitting that when people are wronged, governments have a responsibility to apologize, Vogel criticized the “trend towards making large-scale soul-searching apologies to many people – some of whom were not wronged – by the people who did not wrong them.”
That said, Vogel wrote that “God willing, a government in the future will apologize for the legal killing of millions of unborn Canadians by this and previous governments.”
The CBC also reported that a group of academics opposed to the destruction of criminal records were denied an opportunity to testify before the House of Commons public safety committee examining Bill C-66, The Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act. They say that it would impede research into past discrimination and that alternatives like scrubbing the names of people convicted of indecency and buggery would suffice.