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Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy appears as a witness before a parliamentary committee looking into toughening up Canada's law on pardons. ((Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press))

Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy has told a parliamentary committee that pedophiles cannot be rehabilitated and should never be pardoned.

Kennedy helped convict his former junior hockey coach, Graham James, of hundreds of sex assaults and has since become an advocate for young victims.

The former hockey player was testifying before a House of Commons committee looking into toughening up Canada's pardons law.

He says child protection is paramount and that survivors of childhood sexual assault spend the rest of their lives dealing with the trauma.

Kennedy told the committee that he dislikes the term "pardon," saying it is up to victims and their families, not the justice system, to offer forgiveness. He said he prefers the term "suspension" of a criminal record.

There was a huge public backlash last spring after The Canadian Press revealed that James was pardoned in 2007.

James has since been charged with nine counts of sex crimes against young victims, dating to before his first conviction in 1997.