I was just forced to be fingerprinted to prove I’m not a sexual offender..

I just wrote that headline and I still can’t process this whole thing. Here’s the backstory..

I’m beyond thrilled at being chosen to participate in a ‘leg’ of the Canada C3 voyage. That’s the 150 day expedition from Toronto to Victoria,via the Northwest passage, on a research vessel, designed to celebrate Canada and connect the country. It left from Toronto on June 1st. It’s an awesome opportunity of which I am thrilled to take part. I’ll join for leg 5 in St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador and be on board for 11 days, at which time we’ll continue the mandate of the journey which will explore the four themes of Canada 150. Those are Diversity and Inclusion, Reconciliation, Youth Engagement and the Environment. The ship is loaded with scientific experiments, and makes stops at festivals and events along the way. It’s by no means just a ‘cruise’, but a working, learning and exploring environment. I’ll be joined on board by scientists, athletes, politicians and young Canadians to name a few. Every leg, I believe, will take 20 Canadians from different walks of life. In order to take the journey, all those going were rightly required to get a police check. I’ve been through these before and it’s just a routine and practical precaution that those running the expedition, in this case the Students On Ice Foundation, require. No problem.

I headed down to the Charlottetown Police station last week and got the required forms and returned them with the required information. You had to fill out two forms, one giving basic consent to do a criminal check and another which allows them to do a search for those convicted of a sexual crime but had received a pardon. This part was required because I would working and interacting in and around vulnerable people. I was told it was routine for all who where looking to get a police check, so I signed the form to allow the process to be completed in every way. No problem. BIG problem.

I got a call today from the police telling me there was an issue with the ‘sexual crime pardon’ part of my check. What? I was informed that someone in this country, someone, somewhere, with the exact same birth date as me, had been given a pardon for a sexual offense, and I had to come down and be fingerprinted, so those prints could be sent to the national data bank in Ottawa to prove that person, pardoned for a sexual crime, wasn’t me. Wait, what? I admit to being in a bit of a state of shock at this point. I said, didn’t my background check reveal that I had never been pardoned of any crime? No, when you’re pardoned, the slate is wiped clean so they can’t tell if I was ever pardoned or not. Only the national fingerprint data bank in Ottawa can prove you were never pardoned, and they do that by checking your finger prints against those on file of the actual sexual offender who was pardoned. I said, well, I was never pardoned. They said, well, we can’t prove that. Oh, and its going to cost you $20 for the fingerprint procedure. So, let me get this straight. I have to pay to prove I’m not a sexual offender. That’s correct.
So, guilty until proven innocent. Is that a stretch?

I had a lot of questions. It appears that prior to 2010, the national registry for those convicted of a sexual offense and then pardoned, contained name, date of birth and fingerprints. On at least one occasion, someone changed their name, and did not notify the proper authorities, and re-offended. From that point on, the name portion of the data base was reduced to just date of birth and fingerprints, to avoid the calamity of having someone outsmart authorities with a simple name change.
So, this I get. What I don’t get is why local authorities are shutout of the information regarding pardons relating to sexual crimes. What if someone re-offends, but the arresting force didn’t know there was an offense to begin with? In time they would find out, but not immediately, which you’d think they would like to do. I was told that once you’re pardoned of any crime, all information relating to that crime is wiped. It can’t be picked up on background checks. In the case of a pardon for a sexual offense, if a match on the date of birth comes up, that information is shown, but the message is simply the person applying for the background check needs to be fingerprinted and those prints shipped to the national data base. So when it comes to sexual crime pardons, does Ottawa think local law enforcement officials can’t keep a secret? On a very crude and simple level, yes it seems that way.

So now I am in the waiting phase, which will take 7 to 10 days at which time the police here will inform me of the all clear. But don’t get me wrong, they very fact you’ve been fingerprinted for something you didn’t do, is unnerving and creates a lot of uneasiness. What if they make a mistake in Ottawa? What if it comes back and says it’s me? Believe me, all the ‘what ifs’ go through your mind.

After going through the process, my single biggest question is this. Why are people who have been convicted of a sexual offense getting pardoned in the first place?

On Twitter: @jeffhutcheson

On Instagram: jeff.hutcheson

Check out the Canada C3 website: http://www.canadac3.com

Representation: Dan Champagne


Author: iusedtobeontv

40 year Canadian TV broadcaster, recently retired, and one of three hosts of the now cancelled Canada AM, which had a 43 year run on Canadian TV..I was there for all or part of 24 of them..

14 thoughts on “I was just forced to be fingerprinted to prove I’m not a sexual offender..”

  1. Happens to me every year when I get an updated PRC to volunteer at my kids school and with Scouts Canada. Luckily in Ontario they can do the Finger Print check while you wait and it doesn’t cost anything for volunteers. Although I know everything is clear and I have done this for the past 3-4 years there is still that anxiety as the prints go off to be checked and you are waiting in the Police lobby for the results. What surprised me is that it has to be done every year when I get a new PRC, they don’t note on your file that you have been cleared.

    Have a great trip Jeff.


  2. My question exactly Jeff, why would someone who is a sexual offender be pardoned. From what I understand it is not taken lightly when a person is registered as a sexual offender.


  3. I know she hasn’t been pardoned, but look what a name change can lead to in the case of the former K. Homolka. The system doesn’t stop those it should but affects the lives and pockets of those it shouldn’t. Enjoy your voyage.


  4. Shocking !!!! Something similar happened to my dad. He even had to take the polygraph. Family and friends were flabergasted. My dad, Mister RCMP himself !!!! In the end, it’s the police force that asked for his forgiveness. I wish you a great voyage 🙂


  5. Wow! Unbelievable! Brings up many questions indeed! Sorry you have to go through all that Jeff, and hope your trip makes up for all the hassle. You get so many great opportunities for adventures and we greatly enjoy reading about them. Looking forward to hearing about this trip!


  6. My husband had the same experience. Now, when he has to have a police check for vulnerable persons form, or passport he has to be fingerprinted.
    Hope you have a great trip! I am sure it will be quite an honour.


  7. “Why are people who have been convicted of a sexual offense getting pardoned in the first place?”…again reference Karla Homulka…there should be a permanent record!!!!
    In spite of the frustrations for you in the meantime – what an awesome opportunity – enjoy the trip and we’ll look forward to hearing about it later


  8. Why, indeed, would all law enforcement agencies not have access to the full record? It seems to me that the powers that be have put as many obstacles in place as possible! It’s not surprising that our police forces have difficulty getting the job done; spending time following up on innocent people instead of tracking down criminals.
    Obviously this system doesn’t even work when a convicted felon (K H) can volunteer at a school.


  9. I just had to pay to get a criminal background check and I already volunteer for the local police department. So my volunteer job requires me to duplicate the check and pay for it. Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy that people are put through a background check to keep our citizens safe when someone volunteers but sometimes these volunteer organizations are a little overzealous. On top of that the check is only good up until that date, someone could offend the day after and not be caught. I guess nothing is foolproof.


  10. French president Emmanuel Macron is married to Brigitte Trogneux, 24 years his senior and once his drama teacher. If, at that time, she had been convicted of sexual abuse, and now they are married, perhaps that would be considered reason enough for a pardon? Maybe…but she was never charged. He left her school and finished grade 12 at another school to avoid conflict amid many rumours and accusations.


    1. Totally agree with Sharon. Thought of Jeff this summer and told myself that he was probably on vacation and no later than last night I checked his blog to make sure I had not miss any. Come on Jeff ! How are you ? Julie Nolet


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