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Tell your story and help save the pardon system!

The National Pardon Centre plans to lobby the government in the hope of amending some of the proposed legislative changes to the Criminal Records Act; Bill C-23. Since we are fairly certain this bill will pass in one form or another we are going to try and save as much of the existing pardon program as we can.

In order to do this we need your stories. How did a pardon help you, or someone you know, get life back on track and prevent further criminal activity? Please leave your comments. Anonymous is ok but if you are comfortable leaving a full or partial name it helps that much more.

 

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shaun / May 20, 2010

I was convicted of 4 indictable offenses (all related to the same 2 incidences of SHOPLIFTING) in May 2004. I am eligible for a pardon May 2011. There were no convictions before these ones and nothing since. They were the first and the last (committed to pay my University tuition at the time). As of today, May 2010, I have no offenses on my driving record, am a University graduate, have a credit rating of 720, ZERO debt and a net worth over $140,000.

According to the proposed changes, I will be saddled with a record for life (For 2 incidences of shoplifting!). I’ve suffered loss of employment and financial hardship because of the criminal record. I’ve never been to the U.S., cannot volunteer. Having a record is debilitating in life. I even worked overseas for 2 years teaching english, but had to return to canada because to renew my work visa required a criminal record check.

I’m attending Seneca College in the fall to become a Paralegal. By the time my studies are finished, I should’ve been able to apply for a pardon and hopefully have been accepted. BUT with the proposed changes, if passed, that will never happen and I’ll have to apply to the LSUC for a license with full disclosure of my record, most likely leading me to be rejected.

Having a criminal record has almost ruined my life. Despite that, I have never reoffended. Being saddled with a record for life WILL be the final nail in my coffin.

If the proposed changes failed, I would go on to become a licensed Paralegal, criminal record free and helping those in society with their own legal issues. Most likely purchase a home, pay my taxes in full, lease a car, live the Canadian dream.

If they go through, I’ll have a record for life and rethink my ‘duty’ to this country. Why would I want to support a system that has failed me, that has branded me a criminal for life, that because I was desperate when I was 21 to PAY MY UNIVERSITY TUITION, after exhausting every LEGAL recourse, I should be labelled a danger to society. Who was the victim? A large corporation. Vic Toews talks about victims. Do you think this large corporation was a victim, the victim from some destitute, poor University student dealt a bad hand in life?

These pardon changes are politically motivated. How many MPs involved in criminal investigations last month? Oh yeah, 3, Jaffer, Guergis and Shory and no surprise, THEY’RE ALL CONSERVATIVES!! Criminals are running the country yet I’m the threat?

Something’s wrong with this picture and the pardon changes are but just ONE thing that’s wrong, among a whole series of others.

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tom / May 22, 2010

It is too bad the politicians got involved. There are many different types of crimes in my opinion, some are intentional, some are provoked. Murder, sex crimes shouldn’t be pardoned, but others should be. The government should look into their statistics to see how many people really re-offends.

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Joce / May 25, 2010

Je suis témoins du bon travail de l’équipe pardon Canada, parce-que j’ ai été coupable de dossiers criminels; j’étais plus capable d’aller aux us et, avoir des difficultés pour trouver un bon emploie à Montréal. A cause du bon travail fourni par l’équipe le centre de pardon Canada j’ai eu ma réhabilitation sociale(mon pardon a été accordé) je peux aller voir mes parents aux us et postulé pour un bon emploie dont je réponds a ses critères. De ce fait j’ appuie les personnels de pardon Canada de continuer à travailler bras fort et en parfaite collaboration de ne jamais céder au gouvernement du Canada pour le laissé faire!!! Continuer avec persévérac

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Joce / May 25, 2010

Je suis Témoins du bon travail de l’Équipe Canada pardon, j PARCE-QUE ‘ai Été Coupable dossiers de Criminels, j’étais plus capable d’difficultés aux-nous aller et, AVOIR des versez Trouver un bon emploie à Montréal. A cause du bon travail Fourni par L’Équipe le centre de réhabilitation de Canada J’Ai eu ma réhabilitation sociale (pardon MON A Accorde été) JE Peux aller voir mes parents et nous postulé aux POUR UN bon emploie DONT JE Réponds reporting criteria une session. j appuie de fait marquage «CE» les Personnels de pardon Canada de Continuer à Bras Travailler fort et en Parfaite collaboration de NE Jamais cèdre au gouvernement du Canada verse le Laisse faire! Continuer Avec persévérance pour le Bien de la caumunauté Canadienne DIEU pesticide doit Vous en aide.

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Chris / May 26, 2010

I feel fortunate and very relieved to have been granted a pardon with the help of the National Pardon Centre after pleading guilty to sexual assault a number of years ago. At that time I was found guilty of an offence punishable by summary conviction. Under the proposed legislation I would be ineligible for life for my single offence. Without the pardon, a return to meaningful employment would have been unattainable.

Although many among the general public consider sex offenders to be slimy predators who are to be reviled, and for whom no punishment is sufficient, a number of individuals that I have come into contact with are ordinary people who, like myself, have made a single error in judgment.

Interesting to note a recent case in a city newspaper in which a judge speaks about his impression of the accused:
During the course of the trial, the court heard from a number of defence witnesses who spoke favourably about the character of the accused. This seemed to have left an impression on the judge who told the court the accused seemed like a “good man” who “got misdirected” and subsequently sexually assaulted a young girl. Contrary to the Crown’s submission, the judge said, “I don’t view him as a predator.” The judge added, “I refuse to put a man like XXX in the garbage can of life. He’s got too many good points.”

Let’s hope that enough members of parliament can be helped to recognize that not all criminals, including convicted sex offenders, deserve to be given punishment which is lifelong.

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simon chaput / May 26, 2010

grace au pardon je peux faire un métier que j ai découvert il y a / ans celui de pompier je suis très fier de ce que j ai accomplie et cèst grace au pardon que je pourrai aujourdhui effectuer cette nouvelle passion qu’est le métier de pompier
merci beaucoup

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Rene / May 27, 2010

Approximately 5 or more years ago ( I have lost track now) I was convicted of 2 charges because I was going through a rough time in my life when I was a kid. I am 28 years old now. For 6 years I maintained the same job. I was not required to get a criminal record check and I went to university for a couple years and they did not require me to get one either. I forgot about it because It was not something that was demanded from me and i did not travel anywhere. It was a charge for assault and a charge for fraud for 300 dollars i took. And the lawyer I had screwed up in court because the documentation against me from the police was all false but he told me to plead guilty. It was my first and only offense. I was on drugs when I did both of these.
I have not did drugs, nor experienced any problem with the law since then.

Now that I am 28, I quit my job for better opportunities. However, the criminal record has come back to haunt me. Based on my resume and qualifications, I have received call backs for interviews but I know I will not get the position because I will fail my criminal record check. I have no money to pay my pardon and no money for my bills and I live in an economy right now where I cannot even find a job at Wal-mart. I need to apply to EI to see if I can get help for a while now.

The government needs to take into consideration that making pardons more difficult to receive is only contradictory for rehabilitating people who have experienced trouble in their past.
If they are making pardons more difficult to receive what is then the purpose of having a correctional system in this country? Why not lock everyone away the first time they ever commit an offense no matter the severity.
There are people out there who cannot get a job they are more than qualified to do because of an offense as simple as shoplifting when they were younger.
The justice system does not treat everyone the same, so there are people out there who are convicted with a criminal record, and then you have police officers who are convicted of the same thing, but do not get a criminal record.

If the government goes through with this legislation, it will be the most detrimental thing to happen to Canadians in a very long time.

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Geoff / June 5, 2010

Hi everyone,
I must say that when I heard that they would eliminate the pardon system in Canada,
I thought, the politicians are at it again, screwing up a good thing. I am now
an American Citizen but am an equally proud Canadian, born in Toronto. I
made a bad decision when I was 18 years ago, many moons ago….lying to police
officer about who was driving my Dad’s car in a freezing rainstorm (my buddy was in the car with me), then we went and
changed the story to the truth but ended up getting charged with obstruction of
a peace officer. The Pardon helped me clear my record (which I applied in late 2006, got pardon in early 2008). My offense was not that serious but without the Pardon
process, it could have messed my possible and eventual chance to immigrate to
the United States. Canada is one of the world leaders in the way it handles
and administers justice.

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Thomas / June 17, 2010

Hello,

Almost three years ago I was involved in an incident at a Canada-US border crossing (Canadian crossing) after attending a wedding.

I made a mistake and become uncooperative when informed of the custom officers’ intentions to confiscate the wedding favors I was transporting back to Canada – as they contained copied music. In my non-cooperation, I found myself charged with obstruction. Being a student, I quickly burnt through my available resources and had no choice but to accept the charges and plea guilty.

Since then I have completed my university degree and begun my professional career. And my criminal record is a barrier that I face on a daily basis when it comes to registering with professional groups, exploring opportunities, or even taking part in the requisite travel for a position like this. Not a day goes by where I am not reminded of my mistakes and the hinderances they continue to cause.

I will be eligible for a pardon in roughly two months. Unfortunately, this is about a month after Karla Homolka – the poster child for the knee-jerk reaction the government is taking to pardon reform.

Which is kind of strange when you think about it – that the government is allowing an opportunity for *more* Canadians to say that they have had their lives damaged by Ms. Homolka.

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Brenda / August 11, 2010

Two enumerators came pounding on my door on a day when I was meeting a deadline as a writer. I told them that I enumerated in the county where I own my home, not here in the county of my boyfriend. “Oh no.”, they insisted, “You have to enumerate here. It’s the law.” No matter how I tried to reason with them, they would not go away and started pounding on the other door of the building. I should have had them arrested for tresspassing. This is the way of life now. It’s all about who calls the police first. Instead, I opened my window and asked them if they were retarded. This was considered assault by the police. Why? Because one of the two was borderline retarded, as it turned out. Verbal assault is considered assault, apparently, at least by this small town officer without enough to do. So for five years I’ve been living the life of a criminal, because I wanted to get my work done that day, and knew the law about enumerating where you own your home. If Pardons didn’t exist, I’d spend the rest of my life unable to rent apartments where I go for my work, unable to cross a border for either work or pleasure, unable to seek regular employment, or volunteer to work with children, even as a lunch monitor.

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Wendy / August 11, 2010

I’ve just tried to go back to school, so that I can become a better earner. Turned down because of a criminal record. Crime is increasingly committed by minimum wage earners, unable to cover basic expenses. But that’s what we’ll all be sentenced to become, if the stigma sticks for a life time. Five years is four too many in most cases.

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Andy / August 12, 2010

My life was fine untill my in-laws visited. They convinced my wife who was going through some pregnancy issues similar to our first pregnancy, that her concerns were enormous. I was physically beaten in front of my two year old daughter as my mother-inlaw and her sisters watched. They convinced her to abort, which she now regrets. While driving during rush hour my wife went into a rage, I begged her to be quiet but to no avail, and felt force to pull over since my daughter was crying “daddy help”, not knowing what to do, I attempted to seporate my wife from my daughter so she could cool down, but my wife jumped at me and I pushed her off with my hands on her neck. The police saw she had no marks, and that she was irrate, but you can guess the rest. I lost my job because of that and have had some sleep problems since.

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Robert / January 3, 2011

After I finished high school, I began hopefully what would be a bright future – entering university, and I had entered what is considered by many as one of the most difficult discliplines in science. I was always good in school, had good friends, and was brought up in a loving home. Despite trying my best, I found myself over my head – and at the end of the year my grades were not sufficient to continue in my program of study, and I was forced to choose another program of study at a technical college – I chose electronic engineering tech. It was at this time where I met some “friends” which would discuss among themselves techniques of circumventing security systems. I found myself not liking my program of study, and soon enough I was given a taste of the lifestyle of crime. At this time, I had alienated the friends I had met at university the year prior out of shame for my failure. At the time I was young and foolish, and it became a thrill to break in to the most difficult places possible with my so called “friends”. This went on for three years, and my family became suspicious of my behavior at times – I was trapped in a theft ring called the Shop Vac Bandits because we targeted businesses with high value assets. In may of 1993, two of my associates were charged with second degree murder in a botched burglary where the business owner made an unexpected appearance. I was up to my eyeballs in trouble – I knew that because of the connection to a notorious criminal organization, I couldn’t just walk out without risks to my person. The following year, I was apprehended during a theft and my associate ran off into the woods, and I would end up being charged with break and enter. At the time I did not have a good lawyer, and naive as I was I ended up taking the fall without any of my associates even getting a day in jail. I was sentenced to 23 months, 2 years probation, a 10 year weapon ban, and a compensation order for $43,000, plus a civil judgement of $150,000.

Afterwards I found myself in an extremely difficult position – there was no way I could ever pay any of those amounts without winning the lottery. I was able to clear the $150,000 through bankruptcy, and then I had the $43,000 which was not affected by the bankruptcy. But there was hope that after 15 years I could apply for a pardon – and at the time I was told it wasn’t going to be all that difficult – my convictions involved property crimes, and fraud – no serious violent or drug offences. But in June the prospect of obtaining a pardon become just that – a fantasy after removing the 15 year provision on restitution orders. I am not certain on how the compensation order issue plays out because in 1996 changes in legislation removed the concept of a compensation order – the distinction between a restitution order and compensation order was that your victim had to file it with the superior court in his province before it came into force, while a restitution order was different. With the proposed changes in Bill C23B, having been convicted with over 3 indictable offences would make me absolutely ineligible, never mind having been sentenced to being a low wage earner, making it absolutely impossible to ever pay the $43,000 back never mind the fact that both parties to whom the compensation order are payable to are now deceased.

Despite the fact that I went on to Business school, and graduated with an MBA means nothing the fact that I have a criminal record – nowadays almost any position demands a background check, and I simply don’t have the capital to start up my own business, forcing me to work odd jobs, and forcing me to collect EI in between. On the other hand, a person who I met in prison who had well over 50 convictions went on to university after serving 2 years less a day for fraud, computer crimes, obstruction of justice, and assault and became eligible for and got a pardon a year after graduation, and now he is doing quite well for himself working as an accountant.

With the new changes, it is estimated that over 95% of those eligible for a pardon will be forever ineligible – considering that many seemingly minor offences are indictable and the majority of persons applying for pardon have at least 3 or more crimes on their record. For those people, there is little or no incentive anymore to mend their ways – where for many crime will become their livelihood instead of turning around.

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Daniel / September 26, 2011

I can truly relate to Rene’s comment May 27, 2010 at 10:45 am, I am in the same situation I was charged over ten years ago and at the time the Crown attorney told me that if I stayed out of trouble for five years my record will removed this guy was an F*&% liar and I wished I had remembered his name. Because now being laid of of a job that I was at for four years making good money and supporting my family. Now I cant find nothing but minimum wage jobs and even those are requiring background checks I have no money for a pardon and now am about to lose my apartment and everything because of this 🙁 How can the Canadian Govt. do such a thing i think this should only apply to people with serious offenses that evolve murder children or seniors not petty crap that you did when you were young and stupid. You see the thing is the people that are working for the govt seem to have this idea that they need a perfect world with perfect people and it doesn’t matter if you made a mistake when your young. the politicians were most likely silver spooned from the time they were born so. They would never know what being REAL is like I think this new bill is ridiculous and they should seriously look deeper into it rather than just throw it out there carelessly I don’t think they realize how much this can ruin peoples lives which might cause good people to reoffend because they are not given a second chance and they need to put food on the table. But of course that’s exactly what they want. They want people to reoffend so they can say yes more money into the criminal system. This is all an example of control and power people that sit on there high thrones and think they can do any thing these people need to be stopped at once.

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Daniel / September 26, 2011

Anyone agree with my comment?

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Michael Ashby / September 26, 2011

Hi Daniel,

You may be right. The thing about this bill is that it is all about punishment and politics. It is a really great bill if you want to make your opponents look soft and crime and if you want to punish people who have made mistakes. This is American politics at its worts and it seems to be coming to Canada.

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Lonny / March 29, 2012

The american politics calls us criminals and says you cant cross into another country because of a charge you did when your younger, this isnt righ at some point in life we all are guilty of making mistakes ( some take it to far). But for the rest of us we are prisoners in our own country and cause we cant afford to PAY MONEY!!! into the crooked system the government made. Well guess what thats called GREED!! And i do believe thats one of our commandments. We so strongly preach about in the GOOD BOOK. AND I DO BELIEVE THIS IS GODS LAND. NOT THE GOVERNMENT! One day we are going to have to answer to our maker. And i hope the people upholding these petty laws have a clean slate. Cause its going to catch up on them!!! You hold some of us back because of a mistake we did. I hope im standing behind you in line when god says to you who gives you the right to ban someone from MY land ! Mean while you steal our money by taxing us and taxing the poor more. While you go on trips at our expence!! Isnt that called robbery??? But its legal. I hope we go to war cause your not getting my help. America i’ll laugh at your country. You are going to war one day. But not with me!!! Burn!

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stuckinalifethatsux / April 18, 2012

I was charged 9 years ago the case went to court and was withdrawn, my ex boyfriend said he made up the story about assaulting him and he was even given a lecture about telling lies and trying to wreck someones life. Well he did wreck my life, although the charge was withdrawn I still had an arrest record because it was an assault charge. I lost out on jobs had to live with my parents then when I was down on myself I met this wonderful guy… ha he manipulated me told me controlled me kicked me out in the middle of the night more then once…. he was very emotionally abusive but he promised me a house, trips and he had a good job something I thought I wanted… I was completely under his spell he was a drug and I was addicted. One huge fight later I end up charged again with harassment. I already look bad because I have an arrest record. Anyways he tries to reel me back in weeks later but I’m not falling for it and the information is handed to my lawyer charges withdrawn. Now I try to get my fingerprints destroyed for the third time! My appeal is denied and I cannot attend school as I need a clear background check as well as most jobs require this and I will not be able to get anything decent even though I am qualified. Really, really depressed right now and I will have to go welfare. Sure I’ve made some poor relationship choices but I deserve a good life and I’m more then willing to work. Gotta love this country!!!

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Birgit Davidson / April 20, 2012

Hi Stuck,

To clarify: Have you formally requested that your fingerprints be destroyed? Did you contat the arresting police force?

Birgit

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