If Serge LeClerc seems like one of those vaguely familiar names you can't quite place, that's perhaps understandable. To my knowledge he only visited Thompson once, but it was a high-profile visit, organized by local volunteers from Manitoba Crime Stoppers, which saw the former career criminal and then Saskatchewan Party MLA for the riding of Saskatoon Northwest speak to students and their parents at R.D. Parker Collegiate on March 24, 2008 about the dangers of a life of drugs and crime.
Sadly, two years later LeClerc would resign from the Saskatchewan Party caucus in April 2010 and as member of the legislative assembly four months later in August 2010, under scrutiny himself again because of allegations of illicit drug use.
Before his caucus resignation, the CBC had received an anonymous package that contained a recording in which a voice, alleged to be LeClerc's, made references to using marijuana and having cocaine brought to his residence.
LeClerc said at the time that the voice sounded a lot like him, but he denied the drug use and suggested the tapes were doctored, using words stitched together from old recordings.
On Nov. 23, 2010, after an RCMP expert's examination of the audiotapes, Ron Barclay, Saskatchewan's conflict of interest commissioner, said in a 32-page report tabled in the legislature that he was satisfied LeClerc spoke the words on the tape and there was no doctoring.
"According to the content of the recordings, it is my opinion that Mr. LeClerc smoked marijuana during the time period that he was an MLA, and that he had an unidentified person bring cocaine to his residence during the time period he was an MLA," wrote Barclay. LeClerc didn't say that he consumed cocaine, but "having someone to your home who is in possession of such a substance is not acting in an appropriate manner, Barclay said.
LeClerc served almost 20 years between 1967 and 1985 in a number of Canadian provincial reformatories and federal penitentiaries. His first contact with the criminal justice system was at the age of eight when he was caught shoplifting. As an adult criminal, LeClerc was an alcoholic and later a drug addict and ran one of Toronto's first street gangs and was involved in high-level production and distribution of illicit drugs. He was in and out of prison, "doing life on the installment plan," he said here. Pardoned by the federal government through an order-in-council in 2000, LeClerc is one of the few politicians in North America to have been elected to office after serving a lengthy federal prison sentence.
LeClerc was elected as an MLA in the November 2007 provincial election that first brought Premier Brad Wall's right-of-centre Saskatchewan Party to power. Wall named LeClerc as legislative secretary to the minister of corrections, public safety and policing with an emphasis on a bringing forth corrections facilities initiative.
LeClerc credited meeting Jim Yorgy, a Christian volunteer in 1985 at St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary, a temporary super maximum security special handling unit in Montreal where he was incarcerated, with turning his life around. "You can choose to believe one of two things," Yorgy told him. "That you are a fluke of nature, an animal that walks on two legs with no purpose, no beginning and no end, or you can believe that you are a creation. You were created a person of worth and the only thing that makes you a loser is your own choices."
LeClerc would go onto be executive director of Prairie Hope Ministries, a faith-based residential recovery program for substance abusers that does not believe in the disease model of addiction in Saskatoon. LeClerc also was the founder and past chapter director of the Kitchener-Waterloo chapter of Prison Fellowship Canada, a spin-off of Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship Ministries in the United States. LeClerc also served as a board member of Dove Ministries, a charitable organization for battered women and adult survivors of child sexual abuse. In the past, he also headed of counseling services for Robert Land Academy, a highly structured not-for-profit Canadian private military boarding school in Wellandport, Ont.
Serge LeClerc died in Trenton, Ont. a year ago this week on April 16, 2011 – one year to the day after the allegations against him were delivered to the CBC.