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New Point of View
He’s a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Saskatchewan, and the Legislative Secretary to the Minister of Corrections.  You’d never know he once served 21 year behind bars.

Every morning when he looks in the mirror, Serge LeClerc sees the face of a man who has overcome incredible odds.

Photo courtesy Serge LeClerc.

Born in an abandoned building to a teenage mother, LeClerc lived on the streets and ate out of garbage cans until he was arrested at the age of eight for skipping school and posing as a lookout for a juvenile gang of shoplifters.

His journey down the path of incarceration took him in and out of one correctional facility to another. Behind bars for 21 years, he learned to survive in a subculture dominated by the most dangerous criminals in Canada.

LeClerc made the RCMP’s Most Wanted List. Theft, fraud, drug smuggling, armed robbery, racketeering, LeClerc had mastered these crimes and more. He had connections to the top Mafia families and was the mastermind behind a $40-million narcotics lab in 1984.

While incarcerated, LeClerc realized he had become the best criminal anyone could ever be — but that was it; there was nothing else he could say about his life. “My future held nothing more,” LeClerc says in his autobiography Untwisted. “For the first time in my life, I didn’t know what to do.”

Ironically, LeClerc was serving time at LeClerc Penitentiary when he witnessed a volunteer distributing Christian magazines to the men in the solitary confinement unit. Despite having to undergo degrading strip searches and insults, the man showed up faithfully twice a week.

The volunteer’s actions both intrigued and frustrated LeClerc. He couldn’t understand why a man would suffer humiliation just to help someone else who could offer nothing in return. LeClerc confronted the volunteer and tried to intimidate him with profanity and threats, but the man’s calm response left the inmate speechless.

He explained that he, LeClerc, was a person of worth created by God. He didn’t have to live a life of hopelessness. He could make the choice to change his life. “I had just witnessed not too long before a young man, 19 years old, who had ripped up his sheets and committed suicide in the cell beside me, who had bought drugs that had come from my laboratories,” LeClerc explains. “At a place that was the darkest time in my life, from the darkest pit, in hope I reached out to a God that said I am the God of second chances. I am the God that sent His Son to die for you. I don’t really care what you’ve done. Ask for forgiveness and move on.”

And that is exactly what LeClerc did. Though he had reached the point of contemplating suicide, he instead got down on his knees on the floor of his maximum security cell and made a commitment to God on Christmas Day 1985.

“I went to sleep that night having the most peaceful sleep that I had had in 25 years,” LeClerc tells Living Light News. “I just felt different, that it was real, that this decision I had made to invite Jesus Christ into my life ... was going to irrevocably change my life forever.”

To say that LeClerc’s life today is different is an understatement. He was elected as the MLA for Saskatoon Northwest in the recent 2007 Saskatchewan provincial election. Then, following the formation of a Saskatchewan Party Government, Premier Brad Wall asked LeClerc to serve as Legislative Secretary to the Minister of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing, Correction Facilities Initiative.

In 2000 the government granted LeClerc a Canadian National Pardon due to his exemplary work with troubled youth, their families and their communities in Canada and abroad. The pardon honours his extraordinary life change and legally exonerates him from all past criminal convictions. “It’s extremely humbling. I’m still somewhat in awe,” says LeClerc. “As a Christian, it constantly reminds me that we have a Creator that created us for good things in life, and that no matter how far down the line you go with your wrong choices, He created us with the ability to change that around, by making the right choices."

When LeClerc started his new life with Christ, he set out on a mission to help others find a new life too. During his incarceration he pursued an education and while on parole received his B.A. in sociology and social work from the University of Waterloo. After working with a number of residential centres for troubled youth, LeClerc became the regional director for Teen Challenge Saskatchewan, a long-term residential addiction recovery home.

LeClerc, a former drug addict who battled addiction for 20 years, understands firsthand why young people turn to drugs, and he relies on his experiences to make a difference in the life of others. “What I have come to understand is that I didn’t become an addict to feel good,” he says. “I became an addict to stop feeling bad.

LeClerc says his greatest struggle was with self-forgiveness.

“Everyone has an empty hole inside them that needs filling. Some of us try to fill the hole with gambling, drugs, pornography, or alcohol ... It is not the craving for the drug; it is the deep need to fill that hole.”

LeClerc credits God for providing what he needed to fill his emptiness.

“I believe my faith, girthed by the Holy Spirit, gave me the strength to overcome the addiction,” he says. “I think quite frankly your faith is a heart decision, it’s not a cognitive decision, and that can only come with a supernatural power, the Holy Spirit, that would begin to take a heart such as mine and change it."

Like many people who have come to know Christ after a life of hurting other people, LeClerc says his greatest struggle was with self-forgiveness. He recalls the many evils done in his life, working with organized crime, dealing drugs and polluting the minds of children across North America.

“Once you develop a conscience, you have to face yourself in the mirror,” he says. “I’ve got to now assume the responsibility of looking at my actions and doing it from a new perspective.” He struggled through thoughts of suicide and finally came to a place of self-forgiveness.

Nowadays he says he’s just an ordinary man, enjoying his life with his wife Noreen and aiming to be a good and peaceful person. When he looks in the mirror, he is content with the man he sees.

“I can’t undo the evil I did with the first 40 years of my life,” he says. “But I can dedicate the rest of my life to balance the scale, to honour the God that forgave me and to honour society.”

Serge LeClerc's autobiography, Untwisted, is available at his website, www.sergetalks.com.

Originally published in Living Light News, March/April 2008.

Used with permission.  Copyright © 2008 Christianity.ca.

 

 
 
 
 

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