Tag Archives: globe and mail

“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}

 

Klippert Month – Finale

In exactly one week (November 7th) we will have arrived at the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court verdict in Klippert v. The Queen. In the ruling, Everett George Klippert was declared a dangerous sexual offender for having consensual gay sex. It was confirmed that he should be incarcerated for life to protect both himself and Canadian society.

In this final of four posts, I would like to explore the role of Canadian media in bringing his case forward to the court of public opinion. Newspapers across the country gave the Klippert case a good airing with the bulk of editorials condemning the decision.

In fact Pierre Trudeau’s famous quote:

“Take this thing on homosexuality, I think the view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation, and I think what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code.”

was a borrowed phrase from the Globe and Mail’s editorialist Martin O’Malley. (Trudeau thanked O’Malley for the quotation.)

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Pierre Trudeau’s 1967 media scrum with the “bedrooms” quote. Click to watch. Source: CBC Archives.

Sidney Katz, who had researched and written about the gay community extensively, wrote a notable column in the Toronto Star titled: “Gentle George Klippert – must he serve LIFE?” His second article quoted the dismayed reactions of many Toronto homosexuals.

The Winnipeg Free Press editorialized: “It is possible to deplore such activity without treating its practitioners as if they were monsters.” Even the Calgary Albertan (now the Calgary Sun) opined that “the spectre of a possible life sentence seems to us a little severe.”

The only big city newspaper in Canada to react in support of the decision was the Edmonton Journal whose position was against homosexual law reform citing its belief in the tendency of homosexuals to prey on the young.

The Montreal Gazette described Klippert “as the most publicized homosexual in history.”

The irony, of course, is that Everett was quickly forgotten and languished in jail for four more years. Even today, people remember Pierre Trudeau’s famous quote but do not connect it to homosexuality and its decriminalization. Many are shocked to learn that homosexuals were ever prosecuted in Canada in the first place.

Everett Klippert became a symbol of injustice and the trigger for law reform in Canada. Despite his life story being featured in every daily newspaper of note, he was not a subject of the nation’s mercy. Not really.

The point of Klippert month was to remember the person: not just the court case; not just the symbol; and not just the political wedge issue he represented in 1967.

He was a Calgarian.

He enjoyed work.

He was honest to a fault.

He had a family who loved him.

And he was gay.

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Everett George Klippert. Source: Family Photo.

{KA}

Klippert back in the news 50 years later

This has been quite a week in gay history. The Prime Minister’s Office promised a posthumous pardon for approximately 6000 men who were arrested and charged with gross indecency or buggery for consensual sexual acts between men in prior decades.

This was initiated by John Ibbitson’s in-depth review of Everett Klippert’s famous court cases published in the Globe and Mail last weekend, including the first ever published photos of Everett. The Calgary Gay History Project was proud to have supported that article through research findings and interviews.

The news set off a mini-storm of media interview requests locally. Calgary Gay History Project representatives Kevin Allen and Jonathan Brower, also of Third Street Theatre, were kept busy for days.

Jonathan at CBC

Jonathan Brower, interviewed twice at CBC in one day, February 29 2016

Here are some links to the highlights:

John Ibbitson’s breaking the news of the PMO pardon in the Globe and Mail.

CTV National coverage of the story.

Calgary Sun editorial, seeking a local response to the injustices of the past.

CBC Calgary interview on the Eye Opener.

Edmonton Journal editorial in support of a Klippert pardon.

Comment from a NWT Legislator.

Toronto Star editorial in support of pardons for gay men.

John Ibbitson’s follow up article about the speed of change in Canadian society.

We are truly grateful that this injustice has finally come to light in such a public arena. Journalists can change the world!

{KA}