🇨🇦 The Everett Klippert Story

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“Canadians know our country is made stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it.”

Mr. Trudeau decided to recommend the pardon and order the review after The Globe and Mail raised Mr. Klippert’s case with the government this week, as part of its investigation into circumstances surrounding Mr. Klippert’s conviction. “Everett Klippert’s case was instrumental in the government’s decision to decriminalize homosexual acts between consenting adults,” Cameron Ahmad, press secretary to the Prime Minister, said in a statement.

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klippert5bEverett George Klippert, who was born in 1926, was convicted of 18 counts of gross indecency by a Calgary court in 1960, and spent four years in prison after pleading guilty to having consensual sex short of intercourse with other men. (Intercourse, or “buggery,” was a separate offence.) After a second conviction in 1965 in Hay River, NWT, on four additional counts of gross indecency, and a sentence of a further three years, the Crown attorney in Yellowknife applied to have him designated a dangerous sexual offender.

Two psychiatrists who examined Mr. Klippert said that he was not a pedophile or in any way inclined to violence – they found him “intelligent,” “courteous” and “sensitive” – but concluded he was likely to once again seek out sex with men upon his release. For that reason, Justice John Sissons went ahead and designated Mr. Klippert a dangerous sexual offender, subject to life imprison– ment.

The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the designation in a 3-to-2 ruling in 1967, causing a furor in Parliament and the press. A month later, then-justice minister Pierre Trudeau introduced legislation that, among other provisions, decriminalized consensual homosexual acts between two adult men.

“There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” he told reporters, echoing a Globe and Mail editorial of the week before.

cdfb214e-87f3-49a9-bd99-4eb1d324fcaeA similar bill became law in 1969, when Mr. Trudeau was prime minister. But for reasons that remain unclear, Mr. Klippert was not released on parole until 1971, having spent a total of 10 years in prison.

The government’s statement this week said: “As Canadians, we know that protecting and promoting fundamental human rights must be an imperative for governments and individuals alike – and this includes gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. We have made great strides in securing legal rights for the LGBTQ2 [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, and two-spirited] community in Canada … but the fight chuckie officersmilie policeto end discrimination is not over and a lot of hard work remains.

After his release from prison, Mr. Klippert moved to Edmonton, where he found work as a truck driver. He died in 1996, at the age of 69.

Laws prohibiting sexual acts between men, accompanied by very stiff penalties, predate Confederation. (The laws did not appear to contemplate the possibility of sex between women.) In the 1950s, governments in developed countries confronted two conflicting forces: the fear that homosexuals either were inclined to support communism or susceptible to blackmail by communists, and increasing pressure by voters – especially younger voters – to liberalize laws relating to sexuality.

While England and Wales decriminalized homosexual acts in 1967, in Canada the government of John Diefenbaker decided to toughen existing laws. In 1961, it changed the definition of a dangerous sexual offender to include anyone who was likely to re-offend after committing a sexual offence. Mr. Klippert was the first and only person to be held in preventive detention – in effect, a life sentence – because a judge found he was likely to continue to seek out other men for sex after he was released.

Although the Supreme Court upheld the designation, Chief Justice John Cartwright wrote a stinging dissent, saying “it means that every man in Canada who indulges in sexual misconduct … with another consenting adult male and who appears likely, if at liberty, to continue such misconduct should be sentenced to preventive detention,” which “would bring about serious overcrowding” in the nation’s prisons.

(Photos courtesy of Dave Chan for the Globe and Mail}

Trudeau lags on LGBT pardons


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Employees being rude to co-workers? Make it your business

rb-ca-bullyingMary has a way of going on and on about things. With her high-pitched voice and never-ending questions about unimportant details, she gets on everyone’s nerves. Over time, team members have marginalized her by excluding her from social activities. She is not included in chatter around the coffee machine or impromptu after-work drinks.
Unfortunately, this marginalization extends to excluding Mary from informal work-related discussions that relate directly to her duties.

When Mary asks her manager for help, he says there’s nothing that he can do. “I am a manager, not a social director,” he says, “I can’t get involved in everyone’s personal lives. Just ignore it. Get a thicker skin and move on.” As the months pass, Mary is increasingly distanced from the team.

Situations like this unfold in every workplace, and employers often take the do-nothing route. They classify these commonplace, seemingly insignificant rude or discourteous behaviours as ‘workplace incivility.’ It’s perceived as a social dynamic issue, where the employer has no business or authority to intervene.

If you are that manager or employer, you may want to rethink your approach. Situations like this can expose the employer to legal liability. Employers have an obligation to provide a safe work environment, and this extends to protecting employees from harassment and bullying. Obviously, employers cannot address situations they know nothing about. However, once they are put on notice, or ought to know, then doing nothing does not satisfy their obligation.

Beyond the legal risk, the do-nothing approach has additional ramifications. First, there’s productivity. Work suffers when the affected employee is distracted, worried, and prone to mistakes.

Second, there’s health. Continuing exposure to persistent exclusion by a group can lead to illness, both mental and physical. Under these circumstances, a person is disposed to develop anxiety symptoms and even depression. Pre-existing mental and physical problems can get worse. The new National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace underscores the employer’s role in creating a civil and respectful workplace. While this standard is voluntary, it suggests the direction in which the pendulum is swinging and the increased risk that employers face.

Third, there’s safety. Emotionally distressed and distracted, the employee is bound to make mistakes that may inadvertently result in physical harm to themselves or others. This is particularly true where the employee works in a position where safety is key.

Bullying is a form of harassment that is distinguished by its repetitiveness over time. It may or may not be consciously intended to harm, but it has a damaging effect on its recipients and therefore exposes employers to liability. Even unintentional “bullying” can lead to legal consequences. Employers cannot assume that social dynamics such as those in Mary’s case are not a concern. And, while Canadian legal damages awards still pale in comparison with our neighbours to the south, they are rising. We are seeing more six- and seven-figure awards in cases where employers behave inappropriately and fail to protect their employees.

Employers should train their managers and human resource professionals to be mindful of any team dynamics that are uncivil or exclude someone consistently. Even seemingly inconsequential uncivil behaviour can lead to psychological damage to the employee, affect productivity, and potentially expose the employer to liability. As we as a society develop a deeper understanding of the impact of civility, dignity and respect on mental health, the duty to provide a safe workplace will require that employers address these issues.

What should an employer do?

  1. Implement policies that clearly identify inappropriate behaviour.
  2. Train your leaders on the policies and empower them to act.
  3. Watch for problematic team dynamics that marginalize one or two members.
  4. Don’t assume that bullying is intentional or targeted.
  5. Remember that bullying is an “equal opportunity” problem: it can be directed from a superior to someone reporting to them, between cohorts, or from an employee toward a manager.
  6. Intervene early. Hold people accountable for belittling or ostracizing behaviours.
  7. Enforce the policies and discipline offenders.

Sharone Bar-David is the president of Bar-David Consulting, a firm specializing in creating civil work environments. She is the author of Trust The Canary! Every Leader’s Guide for Curbing Workplace Incivility, due for publication in October.

Stuart E. Rudner is a founding partner of employment law firm Rudner MacDonald LLP, which provides counsel to individuals and employers. He is the author of You’re Fired! Just Cause for Dismissal in Canada.

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SHARONE BAR-DAVID AND STUART RUDNER – Contributed to The Globe and Mail – Published Monday, Apr. 21 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

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