Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday October 18, 2018
Liberal government to waive fee, waiting time for pot pardons
The Liberal government will waive the fee and waiting period for Canadians seeking a pardon for a past conviction for simple pot possession.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced today that the government intends to table legislation to expedite the pardon process for those with a criminal record for pot.
The fee for normal record suspensions is $631. The waiting period to apply is usually five years for a summary offence or 10 years for an indictable offence.
Goodale said it will “shed the burden and stigma” and break down barriers to jobs, education, housing or volunteer work.
But he could not give a timeframe for when someone could apply and obtain a pardon, noting that the “critical point” is getting the legislation tabled and passed in Parliament.
He said legalization represents a “fundamental transformation” of a legal regime that’s been in place for over a century.
“That is not a singular event. That is a process,” he said.
A record suspension does not erase the fact that you were convicted of a crime, but keeps the record separate and apart from other criminal records.
The NDP is calling for the expungement of criminal records, which would erase the criminal conviction entirely.
NDP Justice critic Murray Rankin called the pardon plan a “half-baked measure” that won’t remove the existing barriers the criminal record presents for travel, housing or volunteering. People who are asked on a form if they have a criminal conviction will still be required to answer “yes.”
“If you call that an expungement, then you will completely solve the problem that I think will, continue to exist,” he said.
Goodale said the government did not adopt that approach, because it is for cases where there has been a “profound historical injustice,” such as when a charter right was violated. (Source: CBC)