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LGBTQ2 Rights: Michelle's Story

 Transcript

Speakers

There's always something exciting and compelling to do in this place.

When I arrived here in the Department of Justice, I suddenly had an incredible opportunity.

I was very happy to enter the Department of Justice.

There was no case like it in the Supreme Court.

There just seemed to be a momentum to get things done.

Michelle Douglas

I'm Michelle Douglas and I work at the Department of Justice. I'm the director of International Relations.

I had contemplated a career as a police officer, but instead I joined the Armed Forces instead in 1986. It went better than I expected. In fact, I ended up finishing at the top of every military course I took.

One day, despite my really positive career, I was called into my boss's office and was confronted about my sexual orientation. After some really difficult experiences, interrogations, you know polygraph exams, I was dismissed honourably, but as being not advantageously employable due to homosexuality.

It's unimaginable that the discrimination was so overt, was so codified, this idea that you'd be fired on that basis? You read about that in other places, but it did happen in Canada.

I reluctantly came to sue the government about this. I knew what had happened to me was wrong. It was clearly discriminatory and in the end the courts very quickly agreed. In fact, on the eve of what was scheduled to be a three week trial at the federal court, the government of Canada settled the matter and agreed immediately to end the policy of discrimination in the Canadian Armed Forces so people got their pay raises, they got their ranks restored to proper grade and I like to think of it as they also had their dignity restored.

People who want to serve in the military can do so now regardless of their sexual orientation, I mean that then feels like such a big victory - one for equality, respect. It felt great.

I've now been at the Justice Department for well more than ten years and have made my career here. The irony of working at the Department of Justice at the end of this, still remains for me, just a really fabulous point, a point of pride and for me, I'm kind of honoured to have played my part and I'm also really happy that the Justice Department lived up to the best that they are and that we can all be.

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