March 28, 1999

The Civil Liberties Union supports holding a commission of inquiry in this case

In a letter addressed to the Duplessis Orphans Committee, the President of the Quebec Civil Liberties Union, Ms. Lucie Lemonde, supports the holding of a commission of inquiry on the treatment of the Duplessis Orphans.

In her letter, Ms. Lemonde writes: ``By the present letter, the Civil Liberties Union expresses its support of your efforts to obtain a commission inquiry on the treatment of the Duplessis Orphans, as it did in 1992. We also wish that full disclosure be made of the trying circumstances that many had to live through during that period.''

Established in 1963, the Civil Liberties Union is an independent organization which strives to defend, promote and increase awareness of the universal and inalienable nature of human rights, as they are recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Throughout its history, the Civil Liberties Union has been active in the fight against discrimination and abuse of power. Today, it is recognized as being one of the first-established human rights organizations in North America.

It should be noted that the Civil Liberties Union had previously supported the Duplessis Orphans Committee's request for an inquiry in 1992. With this in mind, we repeat the declaration made by Premier Bouchard before the National Assembly on March 4, 1999, when he tried to impose an unilateral settlement in the Duplessis Orphans case: ``Since the public inquiry was only requested very recently, I will dispose of it rather quickly. I do not recall the request for an inquiry being one of the elements discussed with the orphans. I believe this issue has only surfaced in the last few days or weeks.''

According to Mr. Bruno Roy, President of the Duplessis Orphans Committee, ``The request for a public inquiry has been part of our demands since 1992. The letter of support from the Civil Liberties Union, among others, attests to this fact. Furthermore, Mr. Bouchard's own Parti québécois political party supported holding such inquiry when it was the official opposition.''

As for the Catholic Church, Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte has yet to comment on the situation. Over the last two months, the Duplessis Orphans Committee has sent five written requests to the Cardinal in the hope of securing a personal meeting. The Quebec College of Physicians also remains mysteriously silent on the issue of the falsification of medical records by the then physicians. The Duplessis Orphans Committee has pledged to continue its fight for justice.

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