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The Rationale Behind the Term Change of “Pardon” to “Record Suspension”

Officially, a “pardon” is when a government seals a police record away if an individual has served a sentence with no incidents and becomes a conviction-free, law-abiding citizen. In other words, a reformed person can get a pardon to escape from the “stains” of their past. Unfortunately, once a criminal act has been committed, there will always be a limit in opportunities when a background check is done on the individual.

In March of 2012, the Canadian government changed the name of “pardons” into the term “record suspension.” Why did this happen? Let’s find out.

No Official Explanation

The Canadian government, through the Parole Board of Canada, passed the change of terms seven years ago. Although there is no official story or explanation of why this terminology change happened, that doesn’t mean we can’t draw inferences and come up with our own conclusions. When we think of pardon, we think of a situation where a person is forgiven for a mistake. This thought does not fit the formal process of how legal pardons work. Remember—a criminal record is not erased but rather hidden away from prying eyes of the public. Although it rarely happens, the Minister of Public Safety still has the authority to access these sealed criminal records if necessary. 

Crimes like sexual offence or child molestation are too severe to be pardoned entirely. Such crimes simply cannot be forgotten, and the convict isn’t allowed to enter back into society without some trail leading back to the past. If a person guilty of those crimes applies for a job in a particularly sensitive sector, that sealed record will still be flagged and brought to the attention of the employer. In other words, if a person is convicted of a serious crime, is pardoned, then applies for work, that individual can apply for most jobs without anything coming up in a background check unless the job itself is of a vulnerable sector.

Sealed but Not Gone

In regards to the legal definition, “record suspension” is a much more accurate term describing the pardoning process than the term “pardon.” It indicates that everyone is aware of the person’s past offence, but for the sole purpose of giving him or her a new start, the record is “hidden away” from public eyes. If you’ve been convicted, this means that once you’ve served a sentence and want to be reintegrated back into society. In order to seek better job opportunities, this may be a path you should take.

The new term conveys the idea that the officials—police, parole board, and government—want to give any reformed criminal the benefit of the doubt when it comes to applying for jobs. However, this also means that they haven’t forgotten what the convict has done. Function-wise, a “pardon” and a “record suspension” are the same thing. They both allow a convict a greater pool of job opportunities, living the life of an ordinary, law-abiding citizen if they genuinely wish to do so.

Are you or someone you know convicted of a crime and want to pursue a record suspension? Contact us today, and we’ll get you started on the process. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time—you deserve a second chance.

If you’re looking for a Canadian pardon, get in touch with us today to see how we can help!

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