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Kinew sought pardon for crimes before running for office

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Wab Kinew holds a press conference on the lawn of the Manitoba Legislature Wednesday. Kinew received a criminal pardon for his past crimes after he won the riding of Fort Rouge in the April 19, 2016, provincial election.</p></p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Wab Kinew holds a press conference on the lawn of the Manitoba Legislature Wednesday. Kinew received a criminal pardon for his past crimes after he won the riding of Fort Rouge in the April 19, 2016, provincial election.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/9/2017 (1016 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Before Wab Kinew prepared to launch his political career, he was taking steps to clean up his criminal past.

The newly elected NDP leader said Wednesday he applied for a criminal pardon in 2014 to "mark the progress that I'd made as a person." At the time, Kinew was a senior administrator at the University of Winnipeg.

The Parole Board of Canada granted the pardon in 2016, removing from the Canadian Police Information Centre database references to his convictions on assaulting a taxi driver, a Driving Under the Influence conviction for refusing a breathalyzer sample, and two breaches of court orders.

"I changed my life through hard work and addressing the struggles I was facing as a young man, and because of the support of those around me," Kinew said in a written statement. He was not available for an interview on Wednesday.

"Getting the pardon marked a milestone in putting my past behind me, but I am mindful of the mistakes I made earlier in life, and they help drive me to be a better husband, a good parent, and a positive community member."

Rorie Mcleod Arnould, who handles media relations for the NDP leader, said the new leader spent the day Wednesday meeting individually with NDP caucus members, on the eve of Thursday's first caucus meeting since last Saturday's NDP leadership convention.

Kinew entered the political ring when he announced he was seeking the nomination for the riding of Fort Rouge on Feb. 2, 2016. He won the riding for the NDP in the April 19, 2016, provincial election. He received his pardon sometime after his win.

Arnould said a pardon is an all-or-nothing process: the decision covers all of the person's criminal record, and cannot pardon some offences while maintaining others on CPIC records.

Charges against Kinew that were stayed and thus did not need to be included in the pardon were two counts of domestic assault in 2003 and one count of theft under $5,000 in 2006.

Kinew was not required to submit letters of reference or to attend any hearings, Arnould said. "Wab went through all the normal application procedures," he said.

The Parole Board of Canada said Wednesday that it makes no personal records available, nor can it confirm whether someone was granted a pardon.

People can apply for a pardon, officially called a "record suspension," to have their entire criminal record reviewed — not just specific convictions — after serving their sentences.

To apply, offenders provide an extensive amount of documents, a recent police-records check and two short essays on why a pardon would help them (such as applying for jobs) and their good behaviour since their release, sometimes with reference letters.

If the parole board accepts the application, all the convictions are shielded from criminal-record checks, but those convictions can be put back in the federal database if the person commits a crime.

The process currently takes six to 12 months based on the severity of the offence, and two years if they're appealed, federal officials said in Ottawa Wednesday.

The only prior record that was mentioned in court during Kinew's September 2004 hearing on the charge of assaulting a taxi driver were traffic tickets, Manitoba court records show. Court was told at that time that Kinew had no criminal convictions.

— with files by Dylan Robertson and Katie May

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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