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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN BC: Allen Pushes Trustee Crime Checks
Title:CN BC: Allen Pushes Trustee Crime Checks
Published On:2012-01-19
Source:Nanaimo Daily News (CN BC)
Fetched On:2012-01-21 06:02:19

Civil Liberties Group Unaware of Any Such Policy in Canada, U.S.

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district's new board of trustees will
consider advocating for mandatory criminal record checks for trustee

Trustee Donna Allen has made a motion on the issue for next month's
annual general meeting of the B.C. School Trustees' Association.

If the majority of the local trustees agree with Allen's
recommendation, the board will ask the association to urge the
provincial government to amend the Criminal Records Review Act to
require all school board candidates in B.C. to submit a current
criminal record check along with their nomination papers.

David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties
Association, said he is not aware of any policies in any jurisdiction
in Canada or the U.S. that require election candidates to complete
criminal record checks.

Education Minister George Abbott has said he is will-

ing to look at the issue but said that he currently has no plans to
change the rules and didn't comment on what the consequences would be
if the government did decide to change the legislation.

Allen delayed taking her oath of office for several weeks after she
was re-elected in November because she didn't think new trustee Bill
Bard should be allowed to serve because of to his 2006 conviction for
the cultivation of marijuana. He pleaded guilty to the charge and
served a one-year conditional sentence.

Allen said when she finally took her oath on Dec. 16 that she would
continue to campaign for mandatory criminal record checks for
trustees "both within the board structure and in the wider community."

Bard said he intends to vote against Allen's motion because the issue
is a provincial matter and the boardroom is "not the place to discuss it."

But he said he would consider requiring trustee candidates to reveal
their criminal records in some cases, including those who were
convicted of violence against children and/or adults.

Allen did not immediately return calls for comment.

"There are privacy issues to consider here but, despite that, I
expect there will be a group in place by the next school board
election that will have a website dedicated solely to investigating
and exposing the criminal pasts of all the trustee candidates in the
district," Bard said.

Many provinces, including B.C., require applicants for positions in
high-risk professions, like teachers and health care workers, to
undergo a criminal record check ensure public safety, but the policy
doesn't extend to those seeking political office, even for school
trustee positions.

Board chairman Jamie Brennan said he will wait for Tuesday's board
meeting to discuss his opinions on the issue.

But he said that while it's ultimately up to the government to decide
if criminal record checks should be mandatory during elections, the
school board could develop a district policy requiring that
successful candidates submit to criminal record checks after the election.

"However, I don't know what the consequences would be if we found
that one of the elected trustees did have a criminal record," Brennan said.

Eby said mandatory criminal checks for those seeking public office
could give police a tremendous amount of influence in the political system.

He also said he thinks that any government that mandates criminal
record checks for politicians could be leaving themselves open for a
constitutional challenge.
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