Tag Archives: Apology

“Sorry,” the word we are waiting for….

{Firstly a plug for Tereasa Maillie from the Calgary Gay History Project. She is reading from her new work of personal fiction, Just A Walk, Friday, Nov. 24th from 5-7 PM at Loft 112. – Kevin}

Justin Trudeau announced recently that Canada’s historic apology to the LGBTQ2 community had been scheduled. He will deliver it on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 in the House of Commons. Research the Calgary Gay History Project amassed has been used by many authors in the lead up to this date, and we are grateful to have been a resource for this moment of national reflection and remorse.

One key event leading up to this apology was John Ibbitson’s Globe and Mail feature on Everett Klippert in February 2016. He specifically asked the Prime Minister’s Office for a posthumous pardon in advance of the article being published and got a surprise commitment to do so.

EGALE later launched in June 2016 the comprehensive Just Society Report on Canada’s criminal justice system providing detailed recommendations on provisions in the Criminal Code that have a discriminatory effect on LGBTQ2SI Canadians.

In November 2016 openly gay Member of Parliament (MP) Randy Boissonnault was named special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues to the Prime Minister. The advisor’s mandate includes rights protections as well as addressing both present and historical discrimination

The Government formed an apology advisory committee under MP Boissonnault which consulted broadly across the country.

The guiding questions for the apology were:

  1. From your perspective, why should the Government of Canada apologize to LGBTQ2 Canadians?
  2. Are there specific examples of wrongs that you feel should be addressed?
  3. What actions can the Government undertake in order to promote awareness of the issues LGBTQ2 people have faced and foster understanding going forward?
  4. What can the Government do to demonstrate ongoing commitment to promoting equality for LGBTQ2 people?

The apology input process was also non-partisan. Calgary MP Michelle Rempel participated, soliciting answers to these questions directly from the Calgary Gay History Project. We shared our preoccupation with the sad story of former Calgary bus driver Everett Klippert (see: Klippert month) and answered all of the guiding questions.

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Klippert Family Photo

The University of Toronto’s Centre for Ethics recently hosted a symposium on the ethics of apologies and solicited some thought-provoking papers on Canada’s gay apology. Academic Steven Maynard challenges homonationalism and outlines our messy gay history in Canada and the problems in sanitizing our queer past. Lawyer Douglas Elliot, who also was a lead author in the Just Society Report, argues there are more compelling reasons to apologize than not, with much potential social good arising out of the Prime Minister’s efforts.

Locally the same thoughtfulness is fueling the YYC Legacy Project. How will we acknowledge and commemorate our LGBTQ2 history here in Calgary? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, we will be watching the apology with great anticipation next Tuesday.

{KA}

 

Where are Canada’s Gay Pardons?

Good news came out of the United Kingdom this week as Turing’s law received royal assent. It was named after the now famous mathematician Alan Turing, who broke the German Enigma codes in World War II. He sadly committed suicide at the age of 41 after being convicted of gross indecency – the charge under which homosexuals were prosecuted in both the UK and Canada.

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Alan Turing. Photo: Sherborne school/AFP/Getty from The Guardian Jan 31, 2017.

Although Turing received a royal pardon in 2013, this bill extends to thousands of men formerly convicted of homosexual offences. They have been posthumously pardoned under a new law. Most of these men are dead now, but the UK gay community is heralding it as a significant victory. It also has been declared an anodyne to family members and descendants of those convicted.

We have a martyr here in Canada: Everett George Klippert, the Calgary Bus Driver who was unjustly jailed for most of the 1960s for being gay. The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson revived national interest in Klippert in February 2016, eliciting a pledge from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to grant a posthumous pardon.  In addition, we have our own thousands who were convicted under Canada’s gross indecency laws.

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Everett George Klippert – Family Photo

Edmonton Member of Parliament, Randy Boissonnault, was appointed last fall as special adviser to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues, and an apology is part of his mandate. Perhaps they need some inspiration?

In January, Brandon Lewis, UK Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, issued a formal apology on behalf of the government:

I want to take the opportunity to apologise unreservedly, on behalf of the Government, to all those men who will receive a pardon. The legislation under which they were convicted and cautioned was discriminatory and homophobic. I want to make sure that all who were criminalised in this way and had to suffer society’s opprobrium, and the many more who lived in fear of being so criminalised because they were being treated in a very different way from heterosexual couples, actually understand that we offer this full apology. Their treatment was entirely unfair. What happened to these men is a matter of the greatest regret, and it should be so to all of us. I am sure it is to Members across the House. For this, we are today deeply sorry.

{KA}