Sheldon Kennedy Prepares To Testify On Parliament Hill
November 24, 2010, Ottawa – Former NHL hockey star Sheldon Kennedy, who has perhaps become better known as the player who was sexually abused by his coach as a teenager, told parliamentarians Wednesday that “the word “pardon” should be wiped from Canada’s law books because it implies forgiveness and only victims can absolve criminal wrongdoers”.
Kennedy, supports a bill that would change “Pardons” to “Record Suspensions” and would make them unavailable to offenders who commit sex crimes against children.
Kennedy said: “It’s the term ‘pardoning,’ that bothers me! It implies perpetrators of these horrific crimes have been forgiven. Laws that govern Canada don’t have the power to forgive, to me it’s up to the victim and their families.”
Kennedy, 41, is also lobbying to have offenders like Graham James, the hockey coach who abused him as a junior hockey player, should also never become eligible to receive a federal reprieve.
Kennedy went on to say: “Research shows that pedophiles can rarely be rehabilitated. Interesting, so how can they be pardoned?” he asked. “My abuser got 3 1/2 years for his crimes, he was released after only 18 months, then he got a rubber-stamp pardon, took off to Mexico, clean record, name change, and a chance to start offending yet again. Is there a parent in this country who would have an issue with protecting their children from this animal and others like him?”
The proposed legislation of Bill C-23B, picks up where Bill C-23A that was passed in the summer of 2010, left off. The proposed Bill includes eliminating pardons for sex offenses against children and repeat offenders who have committed more than three serious (or Indictable) offenses.
Vic Toews, Canada’s Public Safety Minister has indicated that he is willing to consider an amendment to the three-strikes-you’re-out provision of Bill C-23B.
Earlier this year, Bill C-23 was placed before parliament after the media picked up a story of James, who was imprisoned in 1997 after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting Kennedy and another unnamed player about 350 times over 10 years, received a pardon in 2007. Bill-C-23 was split into two sections: A and B, in order to rush to pass a portion of the bill when it became evident that Killer Karla Homolka would become eligible for a pardon towards the end of the Summer.
The “rushed-through” section of the Bill; Bill C-23A gave the National Parole Board the latitude to reject applicants if it would “bring the administration of justice into disrepute”. Leaving the application of this new legislation to the interpretation of the board. At their sole-discretion!
Kennedy feels that his tormentor should have been pardoned because he has “never publicly expressed remorse”.
Jared Church, a leading expert in the field of pardons released this statement:
“Pardoning a criminal record is not an act of forgiveness. It is the final step in the rehabilitation of criminals, and an incentive to not re-offend! Some 98% of pardons that have been issued since the inception of the concept in the 70’s, are still in effect. Meaning that they have not re-offended. Pardons are an effective deterrent!
Pardons essentially, remove criminal records from searchable databases, permitting those who have paid their debt to society to travel, find jobs, and qualify for housing.”
He adds: “We should take a step back and realize that two entire pieces of legislation, which will drastically change the way criminal records are handled in Canada. Are being pushed through the legislative process, based solely on the records of two individuals: Karla Homolka and Graham James, when the fact of the matter is, as Senator George Baker recently pointed out, “one in ten Canadians have criminal records”. This means that legislation affecting more than 3.6 million Canadians, most of whom have records for far less serious offenses, will have legislation rushed through, based on being painted with the same brush as such serious offenders as Karla Homolka and Graham James.”
“Futher”, he notes, “the current legislation calls for pardon applicants to prove that they now live a crime-free life since completing their sentences, and already makes provision for serious offenses such as sex offenders’ records, to turn up in record checks if an application is made to work in the “vulnerable sector”. That is, working with children, the elderly or other vulnerable people.
Taking all these facts into account, a calm and measured approach to such legislation is being called for by many representing the interests of the millions of Canadians not being considered, yet directly affected by such a legislation change.”