Saturday, February 27, 2016

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I've not been reluctant to criticize the Trudeau government for its shortcomings, a few of which have been really troubling. That said, they have done some good things in some cases long overdue. Here's another one for the Trudeau plus column, the pardon of Everett Klippert, a Calgary man who was handed a life sentence for the crime of being gay.

Hoping to right a wrong from another era, the federal government will recommend a posthumous pardon to a Calgary man who was the only Canadian to be declared a dangerous sexual offender simply because he was gay.

“Everett Klippert’s case was instrumental in the government’s decision to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults,” said the Prime Minister’s Office in a statement.

The government will also review hundreds of cases of gay men convicted of acts such as “buggery” and other offences prior to the legalization of male homosexual acts in 1969. Lesbian acts were never illegal in Canada.

Klippert's first run-in with the law happened in 1960 when he drew a 3 year prison term for 18 acts of consensual, gay sex. After getting out he headed to a small town in the north. There he was arrested by the RCMP on four further counts of gross indecency and drew another three year sentence. Not content, the Crown pursued and won a dangerous offender designation that effectively handed Klippert a life sentence.

Two years later the Supreme Court of Canada tossed out the dangerous offender finding. The controversy moved the then prime minister, that Trudeau, to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults. That was when PET proclaimed, "there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation."

In typical redneck fashion, Calgary's then top cop, Ken McKiver, bellowed, "Now that homosexuality is legal everyone in Canada is going to become gay or lesbian."

Of course this is another nice gesture by Trudeau, an easy and now safe way to score points. That said it's a welcome gesture.


Lorne said...

In the midst of all the world's troubles, Mound, we often forget the social progress that we have seen in our lifetime. Your recounting of Everett Klippert’s case reminds us that it really isn't so long ago that that kind of discrimination wasn't even questioned.

In the city I grew up[ in, there was an affluent 'sub-community' that, until at least 1960, had covenants that forbade people from selling their homes to "Negroes, Asiatics, Bulgarians, Austrians, Russians, Serbs, Rumanians, Turks, Armenians, whether British subjects or not, or foreign-born Italians, Greeks or Jews."

While the time is growing late for all of us, it is still worth remembering that we have moved forward in some ways.

The Mound of Sound said...

When I read your list I thought you had written "Australians." I couldn't figure out why anyone would complain about that exclusion. It turns out you meant Austrians. I have to say that is a fairly specific list and oh so racist. That certainly was a different time. A couple of generations earlier the list was shorter - Irish.

It's a bit sad that the "real Trudeau" did the heavy lifting of defying the bigots to amend the criminal law to remove the prohibition of homosexuality while Junior does the light dusting in pardoning the most persecuted gay man. Bold action from one, window dressing from the other. Of course I'm glad he's chosen to do it but it does seem like a gimmick to score a few easy points.