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Former Ottawa councillor gets apology for homophobic slurs — 25 years later

Former Ottawa councillor gets apology for homophobic slurs — 25 years later
Former Ottawa councillor gets apology for homophobic slurs — 25 years later

ملفات اخبار العرب24-كندا: The letter writer, who did not sign his name or provide a return address, told Munter he'd been meaning to write for a long time. (Alex Munter/Twitter)

One day last week, Alex Munter, the CEO of eastern Ontario's children's hospital in Ottawa, received an unexpected letter in the mail. It was handwritten with no return address.

"It stopped me in my tracks," Munter, a former Ottawa city councillor, told Ottawa Morning's Robyn Bresnahan.

The anonymous correspondent was writing to apologize for defacing Munter's 1994 municipal election campaign signs with homophobic graffiti.

"Dear Alex Munter," the letter began. "Back in the early '90s when you were running for office in the Kanata area your election signs were vandalized with homophobic slurs. This was done by me and a few of my other teenage friends at the time."

Young and stupid, we thought it was funny and had no regard to the hurt and pain it would cause to you.- Anonymous letter writer

"Young and stupid, we thought it was funny and had no regard to the hurt and pain it would cause to you personally and to your family and friends," Munter read from the letter. "I am truly sorry for doing this to you. We were dumb teenage boys. Over the years I have thought about writing you but never put my thoughts to paper. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to do so." 

Munter, who was the city's first openly gay politician, remembers the incident, but said he shrugged it off at the time because he was busy running for re-election. 

"There was a lot of [homophobic comments] in that particular election. I mean, there was a lot of it. It was not just the signs. It was quite prevalent."

Munter, now CEO of CHEO, Ottawa's children's hospital, was one of the city's first openly gay politicians. (Steve Bezanson/Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario/Canadian Press)

On Thursday, Munter posted a portion of the letter to his twitter account. It got a huge reaction.  

"People talked about the experience of their kids, [including] a colleague whose daughter wore ... a rainbow shirt to school and has been taunted and bullied for it and doesn't want to wear that shirt again," he said.

While Munter believes Canada is a much better place for gay people today than it was 25 years ago, the homophobia is still out there. But he's taking the letter as a sign that some people can change their minds.

"I think there's so much hate and vitriol in the public domain today that I think it's inspiring to think that somebody who might participate in that has changed," he said.

Indeed, the letter writer, who now calls Munter an "outstanding member of the community," said he and the others involved in the vandalism have changed.

"All of us kids that did this to you are now adults with kids of our own. We are all inclusive individuals and are definitely not prejudice[d] to anyone in the LGBTQ community.

"I still don't know why we did it. I don't remember. Please know that we never meant to hurt you."

Munter has accepted the apology.

"It's never too late to do the right thing," he said.

Twenty-five years after he defaced a politician's election signs with homophobic graffiti, a man writes an apology and seeks forgiveness. The unexpected letter that landed on Alex Munter's desk. 7:40

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