Once marijuana possession is legalized in Canada in the fall, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the government will look at ways, such as pardons, to make things fair for those who have been convicted in the past.
I am all for that because I have never thought a conviction for simple possession should result in a criminal record that could, unless a person actively sought a pardon, tar a person for life.
But I do wonder, since the government is ready to move so quickly on this matter, why it hasn’t even given lip service to a plea from a man who wasn’t even at the scene of a murder for such a solution.
In a case I have written about many times since 1991, John Moore served 10 years in prison for second-degree murder in the death of 18-year-old cab driver Donald Lanthier, who was killed during a robbery in Sault Ste. Marie in 1978.
Although Moore was not there, he was convicted that year and in a retrial in 1982, the Crown convincing both juries that since Moore was with the killers earlier in the day, he “ought to have known” a robbery was going to take place and the possible consequences.
The law containing the term “ought to have known” was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1987 but the ruling did nothing to help Moore as case law is prospective, rather than retrospective, which means that when it comes to changes it looks only ahead and not back.
So as it stands, Moore, despite working constantly for 30 years to get some relief, will remain on parole for the rest of his life, having to obtain permission each time he wants to leave Sudbury to visit his mother in Sault Ste. Marie.
It was a travesty of justice to begin with; it is a travesty of justice that it continues.
Moore has people working on his behalf, but what he really needs is someone in government to take hold of his case and give it some real attention, seeing the injustice in binding someone to a law that is no longer in force because it has been declared unconstitutional.
After all, we are talking about a single case here, not the thousands that will be involved when it comes to convictions for possession of medical marijuana.
I realize there is a tremendous difference in the charges, but I still believe the pardon remedy should be there for both, especially since Moore wasn’t at the scene of the crime.
If the charge would have been conspiracy, that would have been one thing. But to convict someone of murder who wasn’t at the scene and who didn’t order the murder is a stretch.
Goodale was quoted as saying the question of pardoning individuals with criminal records for possessing marijuana is legitimate and one the government will pursue once the law takes effect.
A spokesperson for Goodale said “inaccessible pardons can be a significant barrier to good employment as many positions require criminal record checks.”
John Moore can tell you all about that.
Even though he has been a regular citizen for the past 40 years, at one point even foiling a robbery at a convenience store in Sudbury, he has found it impossible to rid himself of the stigma of the murder conviction.
The government can see the injustice that would result in binding those previously convicted of possession of marijuana to a criminal record.
It should also be able to see in a case such as Moore’s.