Pardons Are Not About Forgiveness


Pardons are soon to be renamed record suspensions as a result of the Conservative omnibus crime bill. The industry has been up in arms about the name change because most of the companies involved in pardons and waivers are named something or other that includes the word pardons. It is understandable.

We’ve all spent years (well a few of us have, many of the others not so much) building our brand name and creating an awareness of this program only to have it overturned by a Conservative government that wants to pretend it is improving the safety of the average Canadian.

Let’s be clear about one thing. Anyone who thinks changing the term pardons to record suspensions is going to have an effect on public safety is living in a fantasy land.

On the other hand I have no problem with the name change because it will make no difference to the people who are trying to change their lives. Whether people are applying for pardons or record suspensions doesn’t matter because the outcome is the same thing. The result is that the criminal record is sealed and kept separate from active criminal records.

Another thing to consider is that language is a tricky thing to control. Living in Quebec I understand that too well because it is something we struggle with on a daily basis. Sadly, it represents one of the core difficulties of our culture. Trying to force people to speak one way rather than another is very difficult. But that is another topic of conversation.

In French, for example, pardons were never called pardons. The correct term, for some unknown reason, has always been demande de réhabilitation. But almost no one is aware of the correct term. Instead everyone refers to it as demande de pardon. This is understandable. It also means that there is a very good chance English speaking Canada will follow suit and continue referring to pardons rather than record suspensions. After all, the word pardon has an historical meaning. It is a word with a clear definition that we all recognize immediately.

Record suspension on the other hand is something that hardly anyone in Canada has even heard of.

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