Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s committed to making amends to the thousands of LGBT people who were mistreated by the Canadian state in the past.
“We need to make sure that as a country we’re living up to our values and making sure we acknowledge where we went wrong in the past so that we never do again,” he says.
But when asked what form that would take, Trudeau says it’s still too early in the process to say.
“We do need to recognize the terrible mistakes made in the past that we need to make sure we learn from, that we reflect on and that we make amends for,” he says. “And however that comes and whatever form that takes will be something that we’ll have to reflect on, and discuss on and exchange on.”
Earlier this year, The Globe and Mail published an investigation into the life of Everett George Klippert, who was declared a dangerous sexual offender because he continued to have consensual sex with men at a time when that was illegal. Klippert’s case led indirectly to the 1969 partial decriminalization of homosexuality.
The Globe’s investigation prompted the government to announce it would look into pardoning gay men who had been convicted of gross indecency and buggery. Since then, the government has expanded its review to include the national security purges of LGBT people from the public service and military, as well as changing the differential age of consent laws between anal and vaginal sex.
Asked about Canada’s age of consent laws, Trudeau confirmed that it’s part of the government’s review.
“That’s something that we’re very much looking forward to moving on in short order,” he says.
He also says that the government is looking at a recent report by Egale which sets out ways the government could address historical wrongs against LGBT people.
“I think it’s given us a lot of food for thought of exactly how the government can move forward in that direction,” he says. “I don’t think it will come as a surprise to you or to anyone that I think we absolutely do have to move forward."
The Egale report recommends the creation of a year-long independent review led by former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci which would set out how the government should make amends.
When asked whether compensation or an apology from the floor of the House of Commons were on the table, Trudeau says he doesn’t yet know.
“We’re still looking forward to looking at the recommendations that Egale put forward and quite frankly having a great discussion with the community about that,” he says.