Copied from the Montreal Gazette
Inspired by a CBC documentary, an Oshawa woman has launched "bouchardsucks.com," a Web site designed to to help thousands of people who say they were beaten, sexually abused and institutionalized under former premier Maurice Duplessis's regime.
"I believe Mr. Bouchard is the key to ending the Duplessis orphans' fight," said Donna McAllister in an interview yesterday. "When it comes to the Duplessis orphans and how he has handled them, he has failed completely."
The Duplessis orphans are calling on the Quebec government for compensation, saying they were beaten, sexually abused and wrongly placed in psychiatric institutions run by religious orders between 1940 and 1960. In March, Premier Lucien Bouchard formally apologized to the orphans for the treatment they received and offered the estimated 3,000 survivors a $3-million compensation fund - a sum the orphans say is inadequate.
McAllister said her interest in the Duplessis orphans was piqued in April, when she watched a documentary on the CBC with her husband, who was adopted.
"By the end of it, we were both just devastated."
McAllister turned to the Internet to find out more about the orphans and what had happened to them, only to find that there was little information available, apart from a few newspaper articles.
"I guess I was just flabbergasted that nothing had become of them, that they were still fighting."
In May, McAllister began developing the Web site, which includes information on the orphans, links to newspaper articles, a petition and addresses to write to Bouchard and to Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte. In July, however, after reading an article on consumer activism, McAllister decided to rechristen the site and bouchard sucks.com was born.
One hundred dollars later, the Internet domain name was officially registered to McAllister, at http://bouchard sucks.com. At no point did she have any problem registering the name.
McAllister, a mother of two, estimates she spends an average of two hours a day developing the site and responding to the correspondence it generates.
"When I came back from vacation I had 93 new E-mails," McAllister said.
While most came from Quebec, some came from as far away as Australia and South Africa.
The petition, which began in mid-July, has attracted about 30 signatures.
"I only had about three names, but since I changed the site name, just in the last week I've gotten so many more. It's really starting to come in now."
Carlo Tarini, spokesman for the Duplessis orphans committee, said the Web site should help their cause.
"It warms our hearts to see a concerned citizen doing this. Hopefully, this will put some pressure on the Quebec government to do what all the other governments across the country have done, which is to settle cases of institutional abuse."
Bouchard's office refused to comment, but said it has not received any correspondence during the past couple of weeks on the Duplessis orphans.