Justin Trudeau’s government is showing a lack of respect to the very community it is trying to apologize to, said NDPÂ MP Randall Garrison.
Garrison said that while the federal government is poised to make an historic apology to members of the LGBTÂ community on Tuesday, the Liberals are treating some members of that community as an afterthought by making it difficult for MPs to invite victims to related events in Ottawa.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to offer an apology for government policies and programs that discriminated against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spiritedÂ Canadians.
For decades, members of the military and civil service were forced from their jobs. Some have described being interrogated and followed. Other Canadians were arrested for their sexual activities.
Opposition MPsÂ received an email Friday morning at 11:16 telling them they could bring two or three guests â€”Â “people from your riding who would appreciate an invitation for this historic occasion”â€” to attend a viewing event near Parliament Hill.
“As time is of the essence, we would have your list of names by end of day today to send out the invitation as soon as possible,” the email continued. It notes guests will be responsible for their own expenses and travel.
The message also said space in the House of Commons had been prioritized for victims, their guests and officials.
All victims certainly haven’t been invited though, noted Garrison, since thousands of Canadians have been persecuted for their sexuality.
Victims invited to the House
The government says it has tried to make the entire process as inclusive as possible.
The Prime Minister’s Office noted that the date for the apology was first made public nearly a week ago, on Sunday, in a tweet by the prime minister.
On November 28, the Government will offer a formal apology to LGBTQ2 Canadians in the House – for the persecution & injustices they have suffered, and to advance together on the path to equality & inclusion.
The PMO said it has worked with members of all parties to identify victims across the country, pointing to an Oct. 20 email that was sent to all members of ParliamentÂ
“Last Friday, invitations were issued to victims who came forward in the past months and shared their stories with us, and we look forward to welcoming them to Ottawa for this important moment next week,”Â said PMO spokesperson Cameron Ahmad.
“Those victims who have been in touch with us, and who participated in this process leading to the apology, were prioritized to attend the event in the House of Commons gallery,” Ahmad said.
“Our government is committed to working with all partners, colleagues, stakeholders, and political parties to ensure we get this right, advancing equality, and correcting the wrongs of the past,” he said.
However, the Prime Minister’s Office did acknowledge Liberal MPs were told about the separate viewing event at Wednesday’s caucus meeting, two days before opposition MPs.
Garrison said he hasÂ been working to get an apology forÂ Canadians who were fired and persecuted for their sexuality since he first became an MP in 2011. But he won’t be bringing guests from his Vancouver IslandÂ riding to Tuesday’s event.
“A ticket to Ottawa at the last minute booked from Victoria is going to cost them literally $1,500 to $2,000,” he said. “It’s not practical for me to contact people with a couple of hours’ notice. It’s almost insulting to say, ‘Hey, do you want to be in Ottawa on Tuesday? At your expense?'”
He questioned why Liberal MPs would be told about the event before other parties, but said this is not ultimately about the politicians.
“I think fundamentally it’s disrespectful of the community who suffered the discrimination and campaigns of persecution. It’s like it’s an afterthought.”
The Conservatives declined to comment.
Lawyer hopeful of class-action settlement
The government is also facing a class-action lawsuit from those who lost their jobs.Â
“I’m pretty hopeful that we’re going to have a resolution in place before next Tuesday,”Â lead lawyer Doug ElliottÂ told oldÂ CBCÂ Radio’sÂ The Current on Friday morning, adding it would likely be a settlement in principle of the lawsuit.
Trudeau was asked about the suit and the apology on Friday.
“What we stand for is an acknowledgement of past errors and we work in a concerted fashion and a responsible fashion towards compensation and restitution,” he said.
“The statement overall of a government that is willing to reflect on its mistakes and mistakes of the past is what Canadians expect.”
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