There has been a LOT of comments and discussions about the recent news of the pardon given to Graham James, who was convicted of sexual assault back in 1997. The latest 'tiff' seems to be coming from the Prime Ministers office, as reported in this Edmonton Journal article dated April 6th, 2010.
Rather than getting into the specifics of this particularly nasty offense, let's look more at what the purpose of a pardon is, and when they should be allowed or not allowed.
If you have been convicted of a crime, then the law states that after 5 years from the end of your sentence, you can apply for a pardon. This effectively "seals" your conviction away from the public eyes, and it allows for the person to get back to leading and living the proverbial "normal life". And in simple terms, this is a good thing. After all, lots of people make stupid mistakes and deserve the chance to put it in the past. No one wants that mistake to hound them until the end of time.
The real issue here, is what types of offenses should qualify for a pardon, and how many other convictions does the person have? Clearly, some crimes (and even more so some criminals, especially those with multiple convictions) should have much more stringent conditions to determine if a pardon is to be allowed. Perhaps crimes need to be grouped into "types", where some will never qualify, and others will be allowed if you have been a "good person" for 15 years, or 10, or 5.
This is just another example where the old ways and outdated laws have not kept up with the times. Add in that the court system is so seriously flawed where the Letter of the Law allows the entire concept of Justice to fly out the window, it begs for some serious work to be done by both provincial and federal levels. The current Canadian Government has done nothing more than provide lip service in this area, and it is up to the people of Canada to send a strong message that words mean nothing, and that taking action to clean up the legal system to bring Justice back is needed now more than ever.