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Formal apology for LGBTQ persecution could include compensation: sources

Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault rises in the House of Commons on June 13, 2016 in Ottawa. Mr. Boissonnault , Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's adviser on LGBTQ issues, would not comment on either the wording of the forthcoming apology or the question of reparations Tuesday.

Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS

With mere weeks to go before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offers a formal apology on behalf of all Canadians for people who were persecuted because of their sexuality, there are increasing signs that the apology will be accompanied by reparations.

The federal government is negotiating with lawyers involved in a class-action lawsuit brought by former members of the military and public service who lost their jobs in the 1980s, and earlier, because they were homosexual. Sources speaking on condition they not be quoted said both sides were making progress in establishing some form of compensation for those the victims.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh insists that an apology without reparations would be meaningless.

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"Based on who they chose to love, they were faced with very serious discrimination: dishonourable discharges, being removed from their jobs and being persecuted and having a criminal record," Mr. Singh told reporters outside the House of Commons on Tuesday. The apology, he said, must include "measures to ensure there's a remedy, that there are reparations."

Edmonton MP Randy Boissonnault, who is Mr. Trudeau's adviser on LGBT issues, would not comment on either the wording of the apology or the question of reparations. But the government was engaged in "a full-court press, whole-of-government approach to get this right," he said on Tuesday. Mr. Boissonnault called the negotiations around the class-action lawsuit "constructive."

The NDP also wants the criminal records of those who were convicted of gross indecency because they engaged in gay sex to be expunged.

"People still have criminal records, which prohibit them from travelling, which places limits on their ability to volunteer in community organizations," said Randall Garrison, the party's critic on LGBT issues.

The government has already earmarked $4-million to support the processes that would have to be put in place to expunge such records.

Following a series of stories in The Globe and Mail detailing unjust convictions of homosexuals in the past, and unjust dismissals of homosexual members of the military and public service, the Liberal government committed to offering an apology for those injustices, and pardons for those convicted of crimes that are no longer crimes.

Mr. Trudeau's apology, and legislation accompanying it, will mark the closure of an unwanted journey for thousands of LGBT Canadians.

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Video: Justin Trudeau, defence chief march in Ottawa’s Pride parade (The Canadian Press)
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About the Author
Writer-at-large

John Ibbitson started at The Globe in 1999 and has been Queen's Park columnist and Ottawa political affairs correspondent.Most recently, he was a correspondent and columnist in Washington, where he wrote Open and Shut: Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper. He returned to Ottawa as bureau chief in 2009. More

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