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Mayor Michael Fougere

Want to run in this fall's civic election? Not even your criminal record can stop you, and that's not going to change in 2016.

 

The executive committee of Regina City Council is not recommending that candidates running in the civic election submit a criminal record check.

 

An administrative report, compiled on January 8, outlines Council’s history in voting against the requirement for criminal record checks to be attached to the nomination paper for candidates in municipal elections. The issue came up in 2012, and the recommendation is not being made to council this year either.

 

"It is unclear what benefit collecting this information would have on the Election Process,” the report states.

 

As it stands, there isn’t a municipality in Saskatchewan that requires its candidates to submit criminal record checks, and according to the report, “it is not expected” that any cities in Saskatchewan will implement this practice.

 

Mayor Michael Fougere stands by the council’s decision: “The thought is that you aren’t disbarred from running for office if you have a criminal record; thus by doing the check, you aren’t informing the public either way,” he said. “So the thought is making it less complicated. … Council felt we haven’t done it before, no need to do it now.”

 

“At the end of the day, it wouldn’t add value to those people, and there’s nothing precluding you from running if you have a criminal record,” agreed Ward 6 councillor Wade Murray.

 

However, Sue Delanoy, the executive director of The Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan, has a different opinion. The Elizabeth Fry Society is an organization that promotes “an end to recidivism and support crime prevention through a social development approach.”

 

“Anybody that has been incarcerated and is working anywhere usually has to disclose that. Lots of places of business need a record check in a vulnerable service sector requirement so I don’t see why anybody that we have running for office wouldn’t have to have that. I think that would be good practice. I think it’s transparent and it would be really positive,” she said. “We make choices based on what we know about a person’s past.”

 

Although Delanoy said stigma can prevent past criminals from running for office, she said, “I think if somebody does have a criminal record, then they feel that they’re stigmatized and they don’t figure the rest of society probably would accept them. But again there’s also a period of time where you can have some of that abolished.”

 

Delanoy also believes there is value in knowing the criminal past of a potential candidate because "Somebody who has been through a system, or has done wrong and maybe has done well by it can often be somebody that we can learn a lot from.”

 

Some professions such as teaching require criminal records checks. Ryan Kardynal, a teacher at W.S Hawrylak Elementary School agrees with Delanoy. “I personally think that everybody should have to get a criminal record check,” said Kardynal. “I wouldn’t want to be working next to somebody who has been convicted at one point maybe for a murder or aggravated assault.

 

“If you are planning to run, you should expect your entire past to be an open book. Having a record is definitely a disadvantage but I don’t think it’s unfair to have that information made public,” added Kardynal.

 

Election Day is Oct. 26, 2016.