My Canadian Pardon: If someone asks, should I tell?

My Canadian Pardon and My Criminal Record – What Information Can I keep to Myself?

A lot of my clients ask if they are required to tell people about their pardon if asked. This usually applies to things like job applications and the US border. I have discussed the US border in length on this blog so for the purpose of this article I will just discuss how this situation affects things here in Canada, particularly in relation to job applications. The truth is that there is no correct answer but hopefully some of the following information will be of help.

11. When asked if I have a criminal record after obtaining a pardon, what should I say?
You cannot deny the fact that you were once convicted of an offence. However, you may choose to disclose that you have obtained a pardon, which is proof you are a law-abiding citizen. The correct response would be: “Yes, I have been convicted of a criminal offence for which I have been pardoned.”
My Canadian Pardon

That answer does beg the following question though: If I choose NOT to tell about my pardon, then what happens? The best answer I can give is that nothing happens at all (there are some exceptions with certain job application that require extensive security clearance but you would be giving your permission in advance for a more extensive search to be done anyway. For the average old job app’ there is not much to worry about).

In the case of a job application if you lie to your employer and he/she finds out, then that would be grounds for dismissal. But I am fairly certain that if you admit you have a criminal record, then you are not getting the job anyway. It is your call. You be the judge.

You should be aware that there is really no straight answer to this question and there is certainly nothing written down in the law books. If you lie about having been convicted of a crime there is no legal penalty that I have ever heard of. So if the Parole Board says you cannot deny that you have been convicted, you might want to ask yourself “why not”?

The Canadian Human Rights Commission states the following in relation to pardoned criminal convictions:

Discrimination and Harassment
Section 25 of the Act defines this ground as a conviction for which a pardon has been granted by any authority under law.
Once a pardon has been granted, differential treatment because of a conviction for that crime is prohibited. People who have been pardoned of conviction of an offence deserve the same chance as everyone else to make the most of life.
 I think it is nice that the Human Rights Commission makes the above statement but the problem is that we all know that human nature is not so forgiving. In a job interview if it comes down to you and another person and you are the one with the criminal record, we all know who is getting the job. I may disagree with the National Parole Board on this one but if I had a pardon for an old criminal conviction I would certainly just say NO when asked if I have ever been arrested. Since no one can find out anyway, why would I disclose my pardon?

Please keep in mind that this is not legal advice. This post is just my understanding of the system and some of my own judgment. In the end you need to evaluate each situation you are in and decide for yourself whether or not you must disclose your pardon.

When it comes to pardoned Canadian criminal records, I am afraid there are few straight-forward answers.


Comments (5)
George gibbard / July 26, 2017

Very helpful and I really appreciate your advice. It makes alot of sense on a subject that his hard to make sense of.

Derrek Wilkinson / December 29, 2017

what do i say at the us or any border. yes i have been but i have been pardoned

Michael Ashby / January 3, 2018

That is your choice. American law says you need to tell them about it. But if they don’t already know they can’t find out otherwise.

Kind regards,


Paul Chana / March 15, 2018

Hi Michael,

You made a great statement about human nature is NOT so forgiving. There are those of us who go through life without any issues, without any mistakes and never see the other side of the coin. Then there are others who, for some reason, call it bad luck, bad karma, bad things follow them. I am unfortunately the latter. I recently received my pardon and I literally broke down in tears. Like is short and with the mistakes I made, I paid dearly for it by suffering for 9 years trying to get the pardon. I am an I.T. Specialist with 20 years experience and having trouble securing a job. I am sincerely grateful for Pardons Canada to assist me in the final outcome. I wanted to as if there was any legislation amendment to the pardon’s act , that someone can be revised to include something to state that the individuals who receive their pardon, will be granted some options to start their life over again? Meaning, some sort of program or department can be created to help those trying to get back into the work force as a pardon has been granted? There should be some department or centre where someone can go and they help those specifically find a job with a Pardon in hand. Any thoughts on this would help.


Paul C.

Tiffanie / March 19, 2018

Hi Paul,

We are not aware of the existence of such a program and/or department to this day.


1-866-242-2411, ext. 226


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