1965 Everett George Klippert: A Fight for Justice

On the morning of August 16, 1965 Pine Point RCMP(see map) detained Everett George Klippert – a mechanic’s helper at the lead-zinc mine at Pine Point – questioning him about arson in the community. Klippert was known to police as a homosexual and while they were able to establish he had nothing to do with the arson the intense and prolonged questioning did bring out details of his sexual activities which included times and places. This was sufficient for police to charge him with gross indecency under section 149 of the Criminal Code.

Mr. Justice Sissons of the Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories heard the charges and found Everett George Klippert guilty. Sissons declared Klippert a dangerous sexual offender and sentenced him to what was called “preventive detention”. Klippert faced the prospect of spending the rest of his life in jail.

Klippert’s conviction – which even at the time was considered by many to be cruel and unusual – was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Court dismissed the appeal in a controversial 3-2 decision, which prompted Pierre Elliot Trudeau, then Minister of Justice, to state, in a media scrum outside the House of Commons on December 21, 1967:

“Take this thing on homosexuality, I think the view we take here is that there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation, and I think what’s done in private between adults doesn’t concern the Criminal Code. When it becomes public this is a different matter…”

The late 1960s and early 1970s was a time of intense debate concerning the decriminalization of homosexuality. Bud Orange, the Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories, stood up for Klippert. Canadians responded by sending hundreds of letters. Some were supportive but many were ugly, abusive and threatening.

Klippert’s case is one that has been studied and analysed over the years and it is clear he was not a dangerous sexual offender, his sexual activities were not predatory and his sexual partners were always consenting adults.

It was largely through publicity and debate surrounding cases like Klippert’s that the Criminal Code was finally changed in 1969. Yet even with these changes Everett George Klippert wasn’t released from the Prince Albert maximum security Penitentiary until mid 1971. He passed away in 1996 at the age of 70.