Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marches in the Ottawa Capital Pride parade, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marches in the Ottawa Capital Pride parade, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

LGBTQ advocates want military, RCMP to take part in apology

“These are all the organizations that perpetrated past discrimination against the LGBTQ community.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should not be the only one to say sorry for state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBTQ people, say advocates who have long demanded the federal government apologize for years of persecution.

Lynne Gouliquer, a military veteran who has researched the history of how LGBTQ people were hounded out of their jobs in the military and the federal government, said she wants to see the heads of the institutions responsible take part in the Nov. 28 apology in the House of Commons.

That should include Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, acting RCMP commissioner Daniel Dubeau, the chief of the defence staff and the clerk of the Privy Council, said Gouliquer, because it would render the apology more meaningful to those who were directly affected.

“These are all the organizations that perpetrated past discrimination against the LGBTQ community,” said Gouliquer, an assistant professor of sociology at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

“When it comes to giving an apology, while it is going to mean a lot to come from the prime minister, having those people present is going to mean a lot to the people that it was perpetrated against,” she said.

Spokespeople for Gen. Jonathan Vance, the defence chief, and Michael Wernick, clerk of the Privy Council, who is the top federal bureaucrat, said they will both be in the House of Commons for the apology next week. So will Sajjan and Dubeau, their spokespeople confirmed Monday.

The speech from Trudeau will be followed by statements from the opposition parties.

Gary Kinsman, another sociologist at Laurentian who has been pushing for redress for decades, said having the apology go beyond the prime minister could underscore the commitment to prevent something like this from happening again.

“It’s really important for us that it not simply be seen as ‘Oh, Justin Trudeau has apologized,’ or even that the prime minister has apologized,” said Kinsman, who like Gouliquer is a member of the We Demand an Apology Network.

“But the people who are now in positions of leadership in the military and the public service are also committing themselves to this apology and to making sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

Separate from the apology, the Liberal government is planning to introduce legislation by the end of the year to expunge the criminal records of Canadians previously convicted of consensual sexual activity with same-sex partners.

The latest economic update set aside $4 million over two years to meet this goal.

The apology is not expected to come with compensation, an issue that is likely to be addressed by Canada-wide class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of LGBTQ people who say they were persecuted and forced out of their jobs in the military and federal government.

Doug Elliott, a Toronto-based lawyer and veteran gay rights activist who is representing the plaintiffs in the class actions, which have yet to be certified in court, expressed cautious optimism earlier this month that a settlement can be reached with the government.

Gouliquer, who recalls living with such fear of sanctions during her 16 years in the military that she kept her living-room curtains closed, said she hopes the apology and surrounding activities will help to raise awareness of how people were treated.

“What are we going to do with this now, not just as a government but as a Canadian society?” she said.

“We don’t want this to happen again. Not just to LGBTQ either — to any marginalized group in our society,” she said. “We need to have this as a learning lesson and treated as such. That’s my hope.”

Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

Nanaimo RCMP sought help in locating Jada Charlie-Carlson, 17. (Nanaimo RCMP photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP say 17-year-old girl who was missing has been found safe

Police sought help in locating teen who hadn’t seen her family members for a month

Brian McFadden, vice-president of the Vancouver Island Military Museum, shows elements of a new exhibit there that examines some of the horrors and hardships for women and children in prison camps during First and Second World Wars. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Women in prison camps persevered

Letter writer shares her mother’s recollections of prison camp in Java during Second World War

A light display on Northumberland Avenue was recognized as one of the best in the city last year. (Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce photo)
Nanaimo’s Christmas light-up event renamed Illuminight

Judging will take place the evening of Dec. 13

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read