NDP wants government's apology to LGBTQ Canadians to come with pardons
Published Tuesday, November 7, 2017 4:32PM EST
OTTAWA – Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling on the federal government to back up the coming apology to persecuted LGBTQ Canadians with criminal pardons and revisions of service records.
The NDP also wants the apology delivered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons.
Thousands of gay and lesbian public servants and members of the military were fired or demoted from their jobs between the 1950s and 1990s, as the result of investigations into their personal lives. Before the law changed in 1969, thousands of Canadians were convicted for same-sex acts, which were illegal.
In May, the Liberals' special adviser on LGBTQ issues, Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, announced that sometime in 2017, the government would be apologizing to Canadians who were persecuted in the past because of their sexuality.
That window is quickly closing and the NDP wants the government to publicly commit to a formal apology by the prime minister, delivered in the House of Commons. The NDP also wants the apology to be backed up by legislation to implement redress measures.
"We’ve been told that this apology was going to happen a year ago, and the government seems to have been just dragging their feet on this. This is something so important, our government needs to make it clear people were discriminated because of who they chose to love -- that’s not acceptable," Singh said.
The NDP leader made the announcement alongside NDP MPs, including LGBTQ critic Randall Garrison and deputy critic Sheri Benson.
Garrison said the criminal records these people still hold have impeded their ability to work, travel, and volunteer, despite their actions no longer being criminal. He wants these records expunged. And for the military members who were dishonorably discharged, it means not being able to participate in the military community.
"These are real problems that continue to exist for people who suffered these injustices, even though they were many years ago," Garrison said. He added that, for military members, once their service records are revised, they would automatically qualify for previously denied benefits, such as a pension.
The government has previously promised to table legislation to expunge criminal convictions, and said it’s working on military pardons. Neither of those measures have been implemented yet.
Asked about this in question period, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Boissonnault has been consulting the LGBTQ community to ensure the apology will be "thorough and complete" and that "other appropriate actions around that apology" will reinforce Canadian rights and freedoms.
The New Democrats said they’re raising the issue because they were unable to get Boissonnault to commit to their criteria for the apology in a meeting.
Boissonnault was unavailable for comment following question period Tuesday.