“Hockey predator James pardoned: report” (The Canadian Press, cbc.ca, 5 April 2010)
Last year, the National Parole Board pardoned 39,628 convicts, refused only 800 requests for a pardon. (from Global National, 5 April 2010)
“A pardon allows people who were convicted of a criminal offence, but have completed their sentence and demonstrated they are law-abiding citizens for a prescribed number of years, to have their criminal record kept separate and apart from other criminal records.” (National Parole Board)
You do your time and you or your lawyer is savvy enough to ask, you can live like you never committed a crime, never assaulted or murdered, never even molested little children. According to what the National Parole Board (NFB) told Global National, they do not consider type of crime when deciding to issue a pardon, and according to other sources on the radio, they rarely refuse. Well, the numbers speak for themselves, eh? Almost 40,000 aye, just 800 get nays.
Those refused must’ve been really horrendous criminals, mind boggingly so. For if a man who sexually assaulted young male teens, teens who were separated from their parents by dint of their amazing hockey skills and who were under his guidance and thus his control, if such a man can receive a pardon so that he can travel and get jobs with no one knowing his predatory penchant, then who would the NFB say no to? Apparently, though a serious sex offender’s name is kept in the Canadian Police Information Centre, the full criminal record is still kept separate (probably requiring endless form filling to find out the full information). It does explain how James was able to travel to Europe to coach young, vulnerable hockey players – he was pardoned 3 years ago – and it explains how no one in Europe seemed to know about his criminal convictions until the Canadian Hockey Association told them so.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed outrage at this news, but really either the man is incompetent or disingenuous. According to news reports, he reappointed the Chair of the NFB; as part of learning making that decision, one would think he would acquaint himself of all the powers the NFB has and how they’ve exercised them, including pardons. His surprise at his government not being informed about who’s pardoned is a bit hollow, methinks. Furthermore, it was his government that removed the cap to clear the backlog of pardon requests; thus, he must’ve known something about the pardon process and the kinds of criminals asking for pardons. Did neither he nor previous Prime Ministers notice that all kinds of criminals including murderers, rapists, even pedophiles, who are generally considered incorrigible, can be pardoned, and maybe that’s not a good thing.
Also, for a Prime Minister who campaigned on law and order, who holds his flag up as the only one tough on crime and on the side of victims, it’s amazing he never questioned why pedophiles are allowed to receive pardons, why murderers are eligible, what other dangerous criminals the NFB say yes to, and most of all why victims and the public are not informed as to who receives pardons?
“Under Canadian human rights law, a person [even pedophiles] cannot be denied access to services or employment with a federal agency due to a pardoned conviction.” (cbc.ca, 5 April 2010)
“[Public Safety Minister Vic Toews] said changes that will be studied could include making those types of offenders [serious indictable offenders] wait longer than five years before they are eligible to apply for a pardon, or excluding them from the right to request a pardon at all.” (Joanna Smith, The Toronto Star, 5 April 2010)
How does a pedophile not become one just because 5 years have passed? So much for public safety and tough on crime when a Conservative cabinet minister thinks pardons are OK for violent offenders after a measly 5 years have passed.
And in a great sign of our times, the top story in Canada was not that a sexual predator is pardoned but a philandering golfer is back to his game in Augusta.