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On Tuesday, November 28, beginning shortly after 12 noon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered an historic apology in the House of Commons for unjust treatment of LGBTQ2 people in Canada.

Federal legislation and practices that targeted military and civil service employees went on for decades and led to the surveillance, interrogation, and humiliation of countless LGBTQ2 victims, spawning oppression and discrimination of LGBTQ2 people across the country. Jobs and lives were lost.

“It is with shame and sorrow and deep regret for the things we have done that I stand here today and say we were wrong, we apologize,” said the Prime Minister. “To all the LGBTQ2 people across this country who we have harmed in countless ways, we are sorry.”

An estimated 25 to 30 MPs were absent for the historic event and following freelance parliamentary journalist Dale Smith sharing a photo on Twitter framing a block of seats that he said were empty during the apology, unsubstantiated rumours soon spread that a group of representatives not only were absent for the apology but that they had walked out in protest.

Huron-Bruce MP Ben Lobb was among the representatives absent and in a December 1 telephone interview with Saugeen Shores Hub said that he was indeed absent for the apology but that he supported the apology and he did not walk out in protest.

“It wasn’t shunned, I didn’t walk out during the Prime Minister’s speech, I support the apology so it’s kind of a non issue,” he said.

Lobb went on to explain that immediately following Question Period he had a private matter to attend to. “After I completed that I had my transport committee scheduled for 3:30 to review a piece of legislation,” explained Lobb, referring to Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act.

Lobb added that the meeting was time critical and did not have a set end time as the government wanted to have the bill passed by the end of the day.

“The whole point of the day was the apology and hopefully the positive things that come out of the apology, and I hope that’s what people focus on,” he said.

After having learned the reason for Lobb’s absence through a conversation with the MP, Saugeen Shores constituent Todd Warnell said in a December 1 message to Saugeen Shores Hub that while he appreciated Lobb’s willingness to follow up with him directly, “the rationale for missing the historic LGBTQ2 apology was disappointing.”

Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller was also absent during the apology and said in a written statement to Saugeen Shores Hub that he “unequivocally did not ‘walk out’ in protest,” adding that he left the House of Commons long before Question Period as he had prior commitments.

“I believe that no one should ever lose their job or not be hired for a position based on their sex, race, colour, sexual orientation, etc.,” concluded Miller.

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