Calgary Sun, February 15, 2007
Killers get clean slate
UPDATED: 2007-02-15 02:31:45 MST
Murderers, violent attackers among thousands to have criminal
records set aside
By KATHLEEN HARRIS, NATIONAL BUREAU
Pardoned cons' records kept 'separate and apart'
The National Parole Board has awarded more than 100,000
pardons in the past six years -- including two for murder
convictions, Sun Media has learned.
Documents obtained by Sun Media under Access to Information
reveal that killers, rapists, child sex offenders, child
porn producers and violent attackers have all had their
criminal records set aside so they can more easily obtain
a passport or seek employment with a clean slate.
Records show 102,116 pardons were granted since 2000 --
including one for a first-degree murder conviction, another
for a second-degree murder conviction and 162 for manslaughter
In the same period, pardons were granted for 2,517 sexual
assaults, for 28 sexual assaults causing bodily harm and
for 44 sexual assaults with a weapon. Other pardoned offences
include infanticide, incest and possession of dangerous
John Vandoremalen, a spokesman for the National Parole
Board, said most ex-cons seek pardons for travel or employment
purposes. Approval is based on good conduct after release
from prison, and the NPB reserves the right to revoke a
"It does help with employment. More and more employers
are looking at people with records, looking for that information.
Some are pretty spooked by sex offenders, specifically,"
Sex offenders can and do receive pardons, but certain offences
are "flagged" in the Canadian Police Information
Centre database if the applicant is seeking a job that specifically
involves contact with children or vulnerable persons.
While murder convictions in Canada warrant a life sentence,
two murderers managed to have their crimes "pardoned."
Vandoremalen could not explain how or why the pardons were
granted due to privacy reasons, but said "fixed"
sentences had been applied. Since the 1970s, the NPB has
processed more than 350,000 pardon applications, with roughly
3% subsequently revoked due to criminal relapse.
Graham Stewart, executive director of the John Howard Society
of Canada, said a pardon is a way for offenders to get their
life back on track.
'AN IMPORTANT STEP'
"It gives people a reasonable opportunity to re-establish
themselves," he said. "It's an important step.
It's in everybody's best interests that we encourage and
support people who put their life back together. Keeping
them on the margins of society indefinitely really doesn't
But Steve Sullivan, president of the Canadian Resource
Centre for Victims of Crime, was shocked that two murder
convictions were pardoned. He called for stricter rules
on pardons, including a longer crime-free period before
eligibility, and a complete eligibility ban for violent
rapists, killers or those who commit sex crimes against
"I think most people would say there are some offences
that are simply too serious to have it erased from your
record," he said.
Sullivan also says a mechanism should be in place to allow
victims of crime to provide input on whether a pardon should
"From a victim's perspective, it's almost like we're
saying this didn't happen. We're sort of erasing the record,
essentially saying you've paid a debt and we can pretend
now it didn't happen," he said. "The victims don't
get that luxury. They can't pretend it didn't happen. For
them it's a lifelong impact on their happiness and their
ability to trust. Victims don't get the pardons that offenders