Letters to the Editor

Should 'accomplishments' overwrite a criminal record without a pardon?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Much reference has been made in the ongoing saga of NESOL CEO Carolyn Warren as to what may or may not prevail regarding a criminal record in other jurisdictions in the media. But, using Canada as an example, to work at an airport in Canada, even at the lowest level, there has to be full disclosure, including any criminal conviction for which there was no pardon granted, no matter how long ago. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police then does detailed background checks on all applicants, and this may take months, and, for immigrants, much longer.

So, I dare say that a criminal conviction would likely be a bar on that person seeking a join the Commonwealth — more so a post of CEO in a public body.

It is really surprising that this rehabilitated person did not see it fit to apply for a pardon. Applying for a pardon is regarded as being between the State and the convict, a sincere act of remorse and regret for that past transgression, and a promise to not be involved in any future criminal activity.

With all her accomplishments, it seems that she did not learn how to be humble but wanted to circumvent the 'inconvenience' of a criminal conviction and get by in society. The words from the country and western song “it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way” come to mind. Perhaps levels of accomplishments stifle humility and common sense.

After all, there is a reason there is a record of criminal convictions. It warns people to walk the straight and narrow so that your future will not be blighted.

I recall the days when there was a mandatory 18 months' imprisonment and a criminal record for possession of ganja. Many local singers and others, as a result of such convictions, were barred from overseas travel. Lucky for them, the Manley Government, changed the law to expunge some convictions and a new future was opened to those convicts. What they got was the equivalent of a pardon by the society through the force of law.

So, paying one's debt to society by serving a prison or suspended sentence is not the absolution; for full acceptance into society, the criminal record must be expunged. Presently, it does not matter to society how the convicts feel about themselves, or label themselves “rehabilitated”. A convict can say, “I hid the information about conviction because I know I am not the same person, and I figured people may try to judge me,” and then expect full acceptance into society and walk into any big job backed up by their personal “accomplishments” since the conviction, but that is not how society works.

Convicts can contribute to society, but the proverbial ball is in their court, and it is their responsibility to carry it to the system and seek a pardon for their transgressions and full integration.

Norman Lee

Ontario, Canada

namronlee@rogers.com

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