Mona Belleau has seen an apology before. As an Inuk, she was moved to tears eight years ago when the Canadian government under Stephen Harper apologized to aboriginals for their treatment at residential schools.
She learned a lesson from that experience. Now, as a bisexual woman, she will wait for specific action before unreservedly applauding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plan to apologize to Canadians who were thrown in jail, fired or otherwise persecuted for their sexuality.
The Globe and Mail reported last week that the government will apologize as early as this fall for a host of policies that led to the prosecution and persecution of sexual minorities. Among those receiving the apology will be people forced out of the civil service and military and those convicted criminally of committing homosexual acts before 1969.
Ottawa also intends to act on recommendations from an external report last fall that called for reforms to end ongoing discrimination.
"We'll take any apology but my people have seen apologies before that brought no change," said Ms. Belleau, a marshal at the Montreal Pride parade where Mr. Trudeau marched Sunday. "It's good to acknowledge wrongs but it has to be followed by something concrete. With Mr. Harper, we got an apology and aboriginal and Inuit people were crying across Canada. We were happy and feeling a little peace with everything that happened but afterward, it felt like a show."
In brief remarks before the parade, Mr. Trudeau did not mention coming legislative action. The plans include eliminating the difference in age of consent for sexual acts (the age of sexual consent is 16, but 18 for anal sex), expunging records for people convicted criminally for same-sex acts before the law changed in 1969 and requiring human-rights training for prison guards, police and customs officials.
He alluded to a busy agenda that already includes plans to bolster rights for transgender people. "There's always more work to do, more rights to recognize," Mr. Trudeau said. He took no questions.
Mr. Trudeau was greeted by thousands of admirers as he walked the full 2.4-kilometre route of his third Pride parade this summer. As the first sitting prime minister to attend, his presence remained a powerful symbol for organizers and parade-goers, who frequently noted the change in tone from Mr. Trudeau's predecessor.
"Thank you Mr. Trudeau," shouted Gisèle Charette, who travelled with her partner 700 kilometres from Baie-Comeau for the parade. "We often invited Mr. Harper to drop in and he never did. Mr. Trudeau was with us before he was prime minister and he's with us now. We're proud to have him."