Tough On Crime or Tough On Employment?

The Toronto Star has been very supportive of the fight against the Tories tough on crime agenda. This is the fourth opinion piece of mine it has published and I would like to say how much we appreciate the support here at the National Pardon Centre.

There is certainly room for improvement in Canada’s justice system but the Conservative government does seem to go overboard. The pardons legislation is a good example I think.

If you would like to read the article on the Toronto Star’s website simply click here.

Comment (0)
anonymous / February 5, 2013

Michael, this is a great article and thank you for putting yourself out there and sharing this. There is so much misinformation surrounding pardons/record suspensions that I don’t know where to begin. By far the biggest misconception is that a pardon in some way reduces or commutes a sentence (as is sometimes the case in the US).
As you point out in your article, a pardon/record suspension application can only be considered — let alone granted — after 100% of the sentence is complete, and 100% of any fines or restitution is paid. Not 90%, not 95%, not 99.999999%. But 100%. One day short or one dollar less and there won’t be a pardon/record suspension. This is something that I don’t think most Canadians understand, which is why they say things like “people who do the crime should do the time.” Well, people who have applied for a pardon (and assuming of course that it’s an eligible application) have, in fact, done the time — all of it. Whether in prison or in the community or however the courts deemed appropriate…it has been done.
Your article highlights this, but I just think if more Canadians grasped this, they would realize, as you have pointed out, that it’s NOT in society’s best interest to deny ELIGIBLE (I can’t stress that enough!) applicants from obtaining a pardon/record suspension. Quite frankly, if Canadians are concerned about lax punishments, their beef is with the judicial system.
I know I’m preaching to the choir, but I guess I just want to vent a bit.
I also want to really encourage you, Michael, to press your contacts at the Toronto Star to make this one of their ‘Star Gets Action’ features, so they can really bring some public pressure to bear on what isn’t happening at the PBC.
Thank you (and sorry if this is hard to read, your new blog doesn’t allow for paragraphs for some reason đŸ™‚

Michael Ashby / February 6, 2013

Hi Anon,

There is certainly a lot of misunderstandings about the pardon program. I also find that people’s attitudes change dramatically once they find themselves, or someone they care about, with a criminal record and unable to move beyond it. It’s funny how that happens.


denial / February 6, 2013

Hi Michael,

Yes, paradigms are much flimsier than most people would like to believe.

Today’s cry for law and order can (and as you point out, does) turn into tomorrow’s plea for mercy and understanding when an issue hits close to home.

What is especially aggravating about this whole issue, is that the people who apply for Pardons and Record Suspension are, almost to a man or woman, the POSTER CHILDREN of the Canadian correctional system.

They are living illustrations of the rehabilitative principle that underlies our system of justice. Instead of suppressing them, the government should actually be spotlighting them in case studies and video testimonials and all kinds of other PROOF that, as altogether dysfunctional as the justice system can be with delays and a lack of resources, that this small piece of the system works to the tune of 96% (the number of people who’ve received a Pardon since they were introduced who have not had it revoked).

96% is not just an uncommonly high success rate for a government program. It’s unheard of! It’s mythical.

I guess I live in a different world.


Leave A Comment

Recent Posts

Contact Us