The above article provides an excellent review of clemency provisions. The most common form is the pardon under the criminal Records Act. Currently available after a conviction free period of five years after completion of sentence for indictable offences (felonies) and three years for summary conviction ones (misdemeanors) the main effect of a pardon is to prevent access to the pardoned person’s criminal record, thereby removing most of the stigma associated with a record. Thus, border authorities, employers and insurers for example cannot find out about an applicant’s criminal record and base their decisions on this information.
Under the righteous Harper proposed reform the term “pardon” will be replaced by “record suspension” and the benefits will not be available for those convicted of sexual offences against minors. In addition, the waiting periods will be increased to five years and ten years respectively for summary conviction and indictable offences.
Why is this type of offence targeted by this so-called reform? Why not murder as well? Or brutal violent offences against adults? The obvious answer is this legislation is a knee jerk reaction to the media outcry concerning the pardon of former hockey coach Graham James. It is simply a cynical attempt to garner votes by pandering to the attitudes of the ignorant. For some thoughtful comments on the proposed changes it is worth reading the comments posted on the above CBC article.