Many individuals with criminal records opt to apply for a pardon in order to negate the detrimental effect a criminal record can have on daily life. The ability to get a job, apply for a loan or mortgage, volunteer, and even gaining child custody can all be directly influenced by the existence of criminal records. Until recently, being granted a pardon by the National Parole Board was almost guaranteed, but public uproar over the knowledge that individuals such as Graham James and Karla Homolka are able to get pardons has prompted the Conservative party to create bill C-23, The Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act. The goal of the proposed amendments to the criminal records act is to make it far more difficult and even impossible for many individuals to get a pardon.
On Thursday June 17, Federal MP’s voted to approve a portion of the proposed criminal records legislation. Federal MP’s decided to split the original bill C-23 into two separate bills, with bill C-23A, An Act to Amend Criminal Records Act, passing the vote. Discussion and debate regarding the remainder of the original bill (now identified as Bill C-23B), The Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act, will be deferred until parliament reconvenes in September.
What effect will bill C-23A have on criminal records legislation?
Once the criminal records legislation is brought into force, some individuals with criminal records will immediately find it more difficult to obtain a pardon. Bill C-23A contained three major clauses:
1. The National Parole Board will be given the power to reject a pardon application if granting one would bring the administration of justice into disrepute
2. Individuals convicted of violent crimes will be required to complete a conviction free period of at least ten years before they become eligible to apply for a pardon
3. The term ‘pardon’ will remain; the term ‘record suspensions’ was placed into bill C-23B and will be discussed in September.
The Act to Amend the Criminal Records Act was given to the Senate on June 17 after passing the parliamentary vote, where it is currently in its second reading. Once the bill has been approved at the Senatorial level, it will be passed on to the Governor General to give her Royal Assent, and as a result bring the criminal records legislation into force as a new law. Once Royal Assent is granted, the National Parole Board will immediately process all newly submitted pardon applications under the new criminal records legislation. If you would like to learn more about criminal records, pardons, and the new criminal records legislation, please visit Pardons.ca.
Keyword Criminal Records: 14