In doing so, Canada will join countries like the UK, AustraliaLater this year, the Canadian government is expected to apologize to all those in the federal civil service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the CAF who were subjected to a campaign of interrogation and harassment from the 1950s to the 1990s because of their sexuality.
During the Cold War, gay men and lesbians in the civil service and the military were believed to pose a security risk, vulnerable to blackmail by Soviet agents.
Official figures are hard to come by, but hundreds of people are believed to have lost their jobs over the course of some four decades. Others were demoted, transferred or denied promotions.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government will not only issue the formal apology but will expunge the records of people criminalized for their sexuality.
Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, Trudeau’s special advisor on LGBTQ2 issues, says he has heard many “heartbreaking” stories like Thwaites and Bernie’s and says it is “critical” for the government to acknowledge past wrongs.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Boissonnault says. “People’s lives and careers were turned upside down.”
The apology is planned for this year, as many civil servants and former military personnel who were targeted are advancing in age.
“We can’t move forward as a country, we can’t move forward as a community, until this is done.”