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Duplessis Orphans reject modest offer and apology

The Story


One simply cannot rewrite history, argues Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard. With that principle in mind, Bouchard has offered an apology and a modest settlement to the Duplessis Orphans. Quebec ombudsman Daniel Jacoby called the $3 million deal unfair and humiliating. "Human rights have been violated with a lot of prejudice [against] people who are still living today," Jacoby says in this CBC Radio report. The orphans have rejected Bouchard's offer and continue to wait for an apology from the Catholic Church and the Quebec College of Physicians. 

Medium: Radio
Program: World Report
Broadcast Date: March 9, 1999
Guest(s): Lucien Bouchard, Daniel Jacoby, Pierre Ouellette
Host: Judy Maddren
Reporter: David McLauchlin
Duration: 1:43

Did You know?


• On March 4, 1999, Premier Lucien Bouchard offered the first public apology to the Duplessis Orphans. "Without blaming or imputing legal responsibility to anyone, the government recognizes that Quebec society in its entirety has a moral duty toward members that lived through that unfortunate event," he said before the National Assembly.

• While acknowledging the faults of the past, Bouchard also defended the benevolence of the Church. "If the era had its share of misery and mistakes, it was also marked by many examples of great altruism," he said.

• Bouchard offered $3 million to compensate the Duplessis Orphans, which when divided up would have been roughly $1,000 per person for 3,000 claimants.

• Bruno Roy, spokesperson for the Duplessis Orphans, rejected the province's apology and offer. He said that the survivors were not consulted and he balked at Bouchard's praise of religious personnel. "Mr. Bouchard did this in a contemptuous manner. Nothing he proposed today made sense," Roy told the Globe and Mail on March 5, 1999.

• In 1997, Quebec's ombudsman Daniel Jacoby recommended that the orphans be paid $1,000 for each year they spent inside the institution and an additional sum of between $10,000 - $20,000 to those who endured physical and sexual abuse. These recommendations weren't accepted during the premiership of Lucien Bouchard.


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