Top court: Police force violated rights of pardoned job hunter

Pardon

A lot of people ask me what is the real value of a pardon? Because a pardon does not completely erase your criminal record (a pardon seals the record completely) sometimes people feel that it isn’t necessary. But that isn’t the case. Have a look at the article below because a pardon even outranks a police force. And in my opinion that is a pretty strong rank and a good reason people should always get a pardon if they have a criminal conviction on their record.

By Pierre Saint-Arnaud, THE CANADIAN PRESS

MONTREAL Montreal police violated a woman’s rights by rejecting her job application because of a prior shoplifting conviction, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday. The woman, whose name has been withheld from court documents, pleaded guilty to theft in 1990 and was officially pardoned five years later. When she applied to be a police officer in 1995, the department ran a background check and discovered the conviction.

The woman was told her application was rejected because she didn’t have the good moral character to meet hiring standards. But the country’s highest court said the rejection infringed on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Writing for the majority, Justice Marie Deschamps wrote that a person who has obtained a pardon is protected by the charter when applying for employment as a police officer.

She said the police department only based its rejection on the woman’s shoplifting conviction. The court said while it’s true a police officer must demonstrate exemplary behaviour, the department could not use this one mistake against her.

Marc-Andre Dowd, vice-president of the Quebec Human Rights Commission, which originally championed the file, was satisfied with Friday’s ruling. The importance of this judgement is that it reinforced the value of a pardon, Dowd said in an interview.

“It establishes a presumption that a person’s rehabilitation restores their moral integrity. The woman’s case was heard by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal in 2002, which ruled in her favour. Although the woman had since given up her attempt to join the force, the police department was ordered to pay $5,000 in moral damages. The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld the tribunal’s decision in 2006.

The woman was 21 when she was arrested in August 1990 for stealing about $200 worth of clothes and accessories from a department store.
In May 1991, she pleaded guilty to theft and received a conditional discharge. She did not tell police of her conviction because she believed, based on what she read in a letter from the RCMP, that the pardon had erased her criminal record. The police department’s application form also never asked about pardoned offences.

After discovering she had pleaded guilty to theft, Montreal police reviewed reports and statements from the time of her arrest.
The police department would not grant interviews Friday, stating it was still reviewing the Supreme Court judgment.

It establishes a presumption that a person’s rehabilitation restores their moral integrity. The woman’s case was heard by the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal in 2002, which ruled in her favour. Although the woman had since given up her attempt to join the force, the police department was ordered to pay $5,000 in moral damages. The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld the tribunal’s decision in 2006.

The woman was 21 when she was arrested in August 1990 for stealing about $200 worth of clothes and accessories from a department store.
In May 1991, she pleaded guilty to theft and received a conditional discharge. She did not tell police of her conviction because she believed, based on what she read in a letter from the RCMP, that the pardon had erased her criminal record.

The police department’s application form also never asked about pardoned offences. After discovering she had pleaded guilty to theft, Montreal police reviewed reports and statements from the time of her arrest.  The police department would not grant interviews Friday, stating it was still reviewing the Supreme Court judgement.

About Michael Ashby

Michael Ashby is Co-Founder and Communications Director for the National Pardon Centre. Get in touch with Michael by sending an email to mashby@nationalpardon.org or calling extension 227.Michael Ashby est le co-fondateur et le directeur des communications au Centre du Pardon national. Contactez Michael par email au mashby@nationalpardon.org ou par téléphone au poste 227.

One Comment

  • Nabi says:

    It’s another of those weird, ivory trough legal pronouncements somewhat, if not absolutely, at odds with reality, isn’t it?

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