Class action lawyer says without settlement LGBT apology 'will ring hollow'

The lawyer representing former LGBT public servants in a class action lawsuit is hoping to have it settled by the time he's listening to the prime minister apologize on Tuesday.

Class action lawsuit filed on behalf of former LGBT employees of the federal government

Doug Elliott is a lawyer with Cambridge LLP based in Elliot Lake. (Cambridge LLP)

The lawyer representing former LGBT public servants in a class action lawsuit is hoping to have it settled by the time he's listening to the prime minister apologize on Tuesday.

Doug Elliott will be in Ottawa for the historic apology from Justin Trudeau to the thousands of gay, lesbian and transgender Canadians who were discriminated against while working for the federal government and serving in the military.

"If the class action is not settled then the apology is going to ring hollow," says Elliott, who is based out of Elliot Lake, Ont. 

"If you say 'Well please forgive me but I'm not going to do anything to repair the damage I did to you' it's not a very sincere apology,"

Elliott says while he welcomes the apology and sees it as part of the "package" to his clients, he hopes it isn't an attempt by the government to try to save money when compensating those affected by the so-called "LGBT purge."

"There have been moments during these negotiations that I've been worried that's what's going on. And I can tell you as a member of the LGBT community that I'm not going to stand for that in this case," he says.

"And I'm not going to give an apology discount on this settlement."

The document that officially ended the Navy career of a Sudbury man, the CBC is calling Bernie, when he was released for being gay in the early 1980s. (Erik White/CBC)

Elliott will be joined by several of his clients in Ottawa for the apology Tuesday, including a Sudbury man who told his story to the CBC earlier this year. He was forced out of the Navy in the early 1980s after military investigators discovered he was gay.

"He's never going to the same person because of what happened to him. But he's really excited about being recognized and finally being told 'It's not your fault what happened. You didn't do anything wrong. We did something wrong to you,'" says Elliott. 

"Closure is not the right word, because I think they will always been scarred by their experience."