Conditional Forgiveness & the Parole Board

I had naively assumed that if you were pardoned for having committed, and being convicted of, a criminal offence, that was that: you and society were square and the slate was clean. An article in today’s Globe and Mail, “Ottawa revokes pardon for man accused in Via train plot” by Colin Freeze, disabused me of that notion. The truth of the matter is that the clearing of the record is conditional.

Under s.2.1 of the Criminal Records Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. C-47, the Parole Board of Canada “has exclusive jurisdiction and absolute discretion to order, refuse to order or revoke a record suspension.” As you see, they’re not called “pardons” anymore but “record suspensions,” a more accurate but more awkward name.

The Board may revoke a record suspension:

7. . . . (a) if the person to whom it relates is subsequently convicted of an offence referred to in paragraph 4(1)(b), other than an offence referred to in subparagraph 7.2(a)(ii);
(b) on evidence establishing to the satisfaction of the Board that the person to whom it relates is no longer of good conduct; or
(c) on evidence establishing to the satisfaction of the Board that the person to whom it relates knowingly made a false or deceptive statement in relation to the application for the record suspension, or knowingly concealed some material particular in relation to that application.

The person whose record suspension was revoked, Raed Jaser, has been charged with terrorism in connection with an alleged attempt to blow up a VIA train. So far as I know, he has not been convicted of any offence subsequent to his record suspension. It may be the case that the only evidence required under 7(b) to establish a want of “good conduct” is the sort of evidence sufficient to establish a prima facie case at a preliminary hearing. There is, however, something odd about having a conviction and “good conduct” as alternative sufficient bases, I’d suggest.

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