Bill C23B becomes law

By March 15, 2012 Pardon 34 Comments

The omnibus crime bill passed despite heated opposition. Everything that could ever be said about the bill has already been said ad nauseum so let’s just move on.

The measures contained previously in Bill C23B came into law with the passing of the omnibus crime bill, bill C10. Therefore pardons are now record suspensions but they are still the same thing.

Some of our clients will no longer be eligible for their pardon ever. I am sorry this happened but the number of you affected to this extent is relatively few. I realize this will be of no comfort to you.

More than a few of you will be forced to wait significantly longer until you become eligible for your pardon. Rest assured we will keep your file on site and it will be monitored by us. When the time comes to submit it to the Parole Board we will be the ones making sure that gets done.

I would like to thank everyone for their understanding. The past couple of years have been quite a challenge to everyone working in the pardons business. The team at the National Pardon Centre has been working extra hard and I have to admit everyone is a little burned out as a result. After all, this is not only our jobs and our livelihood that has been affected but the lives of all of you as well. We understand how a criminal record affects your life. We understand how common background checks have become for employment. And we understand that a lot of you are having trouble moving forward in life without being able to get a pardon. I promise you we did our best.

But the moment the Conservative government attained a majority the omnibus crime bill was a done deal. I don’t think that any form of persuasion would have changed the tough on crime rhetoric coming out of the Conservative party of Canada.

That this kind of rhetoric was shallow and short on facts or evidence goes without saying.

 

About Michael Ashby

Michael Ashby is Co-Founder and Communications Director for the National Pardon Centre. Get in touch with Michael by sending an email to mashby@nationalpardon.org or calling extension 227.Michael Ashby est le co-fondateur et le directeur des communications au Centre du Pardon national. Contactez Michael par email au mashby@nationalpardon.org ou par téléphone au poste 227.

34 Comments

  • Mark B says:

    Far as I’m concerned this government entrapment is a violation against my rights to find employment. Never been on any social assistance, but looks like I have 5 years of it now. I don’t think that was calculated along with many other parts of c-10. I will be applying for clemency due to the nature surrounding my charges and 6 qualifying criteria for it, even if it’s rare to be granted and encourage other to do the same. I hope these Conservatives can come up with all these associated costs from bill c-23b, oh yeah, that’s what health care and education budgets are for…

    • C says:

      Mark B:
      Entrapment? I take it you don’t understand the meaning of that term.

      As for Clemency – go ahead and apply but it is extremely rare and is unlikely to be granted so you will be wasting your time. The best avenue is for someone to take this to court as a violation of the Charter. If successful these new provisions will be struck down. The problem is who needing a pardon has the money required for such a court challenge? Maybe National Pardon, some similar company, or a group of such companies could finance this or do so together as this will be affecting their business and a Charter argument is far far more likely to be successful.

      The other thing is that the Tories said they wouldn’t implement this entire Bill at once – it would become effective in stages. Have they yet given any indication of a proposed timetable?

      • Mark B says:

        C:

        So what do you call it when someone has a criminal record and is forced to the welfare line or back to criminal activities because they can’t even get a factory job…
        I don’t know about your “definition”, but this is mine.
        The cost associated with this policy is going to be immense. From increased social assistance claims, to the property crime cost from people just trying to put food on the table. We’re all going to pay for these costs, including you C. It pays to have people working, and to deny them or that right because of a minor charge and mistake is wrong.
        As for the clemency claim, I knew that would almost impossible so thanks on the charter claim advice. Money would be no object for me on this, I will sell everything I own just to clear my name and find a job again.

        • C says:

          Since ‘entrapment’ is defined as law enforcement inducing a person to commit an offense that they would not otherwise commit and this new legislation does not meat that standard as people can collect welfare or whatever to support themselves – they are not forced to resort to crime.

          I am sympathetic because my eligibility date would have come around this June so I missed my chance by three months and am screwed with regards to employment. But that does not mean that I have been induced to commit a criminal offense thus it is not entrapment.

          If I had the cash I would launch a charter appeal to get this part of the law struck down but I cannot afford to do that. Someone with money, a business, or a province that is against paying for this new legislation will have to launch the appeal (but if a province does it I doubt they will include the pardon part of the bill in their court challenge).

          • Mark B says:

            Social assistance just wouldn’t be sustainable for me and most people i know on it, and I’ll be damned if I ever go it. I’m currently looking into going out West and working in the oil/gas industry, and within 5 years I can easily come back to Ontario and buy a nice house cash, then pursue my desired career. We have did our punishments for our crimes, but yet I feel more punished being denied work because of my past. In my opinion paying someones $550 monthly check to live in a low income apartment is setting up these people for disaster. The extreme poverty and criminal environments that exists in these communities makes someones chance of re-offending greatly increased.

          • C says:

            I don’t disagree with you with regards to social assistance.

            With regards to a Charter argument, the Charter contains the following:

            7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. (I would argue that these new regulations go against the concept of fundamental justice)

            11. (i) if found guilty of the offence and if the punishment for the offence has been varied between the time of commission and the time of sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser punishment. (I would argue that varying the time one must wait before a pardon/record suspension will be granted contravenes this right to the benefit of the lesser punishment. So for those of us who were about the be eligible our Charter rights are being denied. This would not pertain to anyone convicted after this new law came into effect. But who amongst us could possibly afford to challenge this in court?)

  • anonymous says:

    Michael,

    Have the provisions related to Pardons come into effect? I thought they hadn’t been enforced yet, even though the bill received Royal Assent.

    Please clarify

    Thank you

  • Ed says:

    The new waiting times are hard to swallow. They should only apply to people who are convicted of an offence after the the new law has passed. I too would have waited 5 years this April 27th, 2012 and was devastated by the news that I wouldn’t be eligible for a pardon/record suspension till April 27, 2017. For this reason I have decided to surrender my Canadian citizenship and move back home to my country. Good-bye Canada!

  • anonymous says:

    Dear Ed,

    That is truly tragic. Although it is entirely up to you and I would not blame you for a minute for saying “I can’t be bothered,” I would very respectfully urge you to share your story with The Toronto Star (which has editorialized in the past against the changes in bill c-23b), and also share that story with the Liberal Party. I wouldn’t bother with the NDP — they were in FAVOUR of the increases of the eligibility wait times.

    Your story illustrates just how much Canada is going to lose because of this ridiculous and arbitrary change in wait times (why 10 years? why not 4? or 11? Or 7.2?). It’s not just the skills you would have contributed to the workforce, but it’s the tax revenue (income, HST/GST, user fees, etc.) and the consumption (buying a car, buying furniture, buying groceries).

    I think what has been lost in the whole pardons debate (which itself has been rather lost in the whole crime bill debate, as it has been largely overshadowed by debates over mandatory minimums) is the PERSONAL STORIES of people like you.

    Again, it’s totally up to you. But if you can spare the time and feel like sharing, I would imagine the Toronto Star would be open to publishing your story (I don’t work for them or have any connection to them).

    Good luck in your home country. It is Canada’s loss and Canada’s shame that you’re leaving.

  • Michael says:

    Yes unfortunately the new rules were implemented rather quickly. March 13 was the offical day I believe. The Parole Board would not even accept postmarked applications.

  • patrick says:

    well this is pure B.S. So why did I go to Prison? what was the purpose of my sentense if I’m going to do life for it. Oh well I’m on ODSP and I’ll sit on it and cost these tax payers as much as I can. Love our government.

  • anonymous says:

    Michael,

    I’ve appreciated your candor in your blog posts — it’s refreshing.

    In that spirit, I was wondering if you’d comment on how you project this change might affect your business? Are you looking at a significant contraction?

    I’m just asking because I imagine the organizations that helped people with pardons are also getting slammed by this new legislation due to the loss of clients/potential clients.

    If you’d prefer not to comment, I understand. I’m not asking for specific numbers. I’d just like to know whether this is a big deal for you organizationally (and other organizations like yours).

    • Michael says:

      Hi Anon,

      Well business wise we have been overwhelmed with needless work. Calling our clients to explain how the got they raw end of the stick thanks to Stephen Harper, Vic Towes and Rob Nicholson is not only time consuming but emotionally draining as well. People are understandably upset and we end up being the ones they vent on. It’s part of the job.

      It is also pretty tough keeping up with the constant changes in the processing as well as the backlog. After awhile it gets hard to tell the same guy over and over that things are out of our hands and we are just waiting for the Parole Boad to finally do its job. After all the clients pay us to makes sure things get done efficiently and when it takes an extra 5 months for no discernible reason I understand why some get fed up.

      As for business I don’t really expect that it will have much impact. Most people don’t come to us for a pardon just because they think it’s a smart thing to do. Rather, they wait until it’s something the absolutely have to get right away. So it really is a necessity rather than a luxury most of the time. And when it’s a necessity people will be willing to pay for it. The government fee increase was unfortunate (and misguided in my opinion) but it doesn’t change much.

      As for those who are no longer able to apply for a pardon the truth is they represent a small percentage of our clients.

      So from a business perspective we expect things to slow down a bit now that some people have to wait ten years to get a pardon, but in the end it’s pretty much business as usual. Perhaps some of the smaller competitors will no longer find it worthwhile but I really don’t know.

      Thanks for the question btw and thank you for your comment about candor. I struggle to understand why so many of the other pardon services repeatedly try to pull the wool over their clients eyes. It has always struck me as bad business.

      Michael

  • anonymous 2 says:

    Hello Michael,

    I just have a question regarding the new wait times. My understanding is that if you had your application in to the Parole Board before the C-10 became law, it will be dealt with under the old law, is this true?

  • Michael says:

    Hi A2,

    You have it right. Keep in mind if something was done incorrectly it will be sent back and you will be subject to the new rules. But if all was in order than you don’t have to worry about the changes from BillC10.

    • Fustrated says:

      Hi all,
      I unfortunately fall under the category that is deem ineligible to apply for pardon. I just completed my master in public health. I am extremely saddened by the new bill. However, what are my chances of winning my right of applying for pardon after my initial 3years waiting period hence i was convicted by a judge withe impression i will have another chance to have my freedom of liberty again. Please help because i am thinking of taking my case to court. Because i was sentence, served my time almost completing my probation. If the judge know i will never have another chance again, she would have consider that before she made her subjective conviction. Please help. Thanks

  • L says:

    My husband applied for this pardon last year and we just found out he’s not qualify until 2016. It’s not fair since he submitted all the paper etc and waiting on the record check that we did more a month ago and now they are like sorry and lost a lot of money because of this…not fair to those in the process…anyone with advice?

    • Michael says:

      Hi L,

      There is nothing to do unfortunately. The application woudl have to have been submitted before the new law too affect and filing with a pardon service provider does not count as being submitted, contrary to what some of our competitors were claiming. I completely agree it is unfair. The new time frames were nothing but an arbitrary number pulled out of a hat and there was nothing to indicate that the old time frames were inappropriate. But as soon as teh Conservatives achieved their majority there was nothing to be done. At least your husband is not one of the people forever excluded from changing his life.
      Michael

  • L says:

    Hi Michael
    We are not going to leave this alone, I contacted pardons Canada today and they kept on hanging up on me! My husband has changed this life and now we have to wait another 4 year…not once did they inform us about this bill…they lied to us, saying we would get our pardons in 9- 16 months…do we have grounds for a charter appeal? Any advice would be great! Or an lawsuit on pardons Canada?

  • Michael says:

    Hi Again,

    A Charter appeal would probably not be complete by the time your husband was actually eligible for a pardon but if you have the resources I would encourage you to do it as the law is a disgrace to criminal justice. As for the service Pardons Canada provided I can’t say much since I do not know what they did and/or did not guarantee you. I know this is frustrating but the fault lies with the Conservative government. I know it probably doesn’t help but you are not alone in this. I missed getting a friend’s pardon into the Parole Board by a single day and he now has to wait another two years. We literally missed it by less than 24 hours. Some things in this business are just out of anyone’s control.

  • C says:

    Michael,
    As I have stated above I think a Charter argument can be made which would nullify this new law. I base this on the following articles in the Charter:

    7. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. (I would argue that these new regulations go against the concept of fundamental justice)

    11. (i) if found guilty of the offence and if the punishment for the offence has been varied between the time of commission and the time of sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser punishment. (I would argue that varying the time one must wait before a pardon/record suspension will be granted contravenes this right to the benefit of the lesser punishment. So for those of us who were about the be eligible our Charter rights are being denied. This would not pertain to anyone convicted after this new law came into effect. But who amongst us could possibly afford to challenge this in court?)

    Now, an appeal to the Supreme Court would take forever but that is not necessary to have this new law struck down or held in abeyance – all that is required is for any court at any level to declare these new provisions to be a violation of one’s Charter rights. Once that is done the new law would go into abeyance (be rendered temporarily ineffective) until the matter worked its way through the higher levels of the court system, up to the Supreme Court of need be.

    Now none of us who require a pardon, and who were within a couple of months of being eligible, can afford to launch such a legal appeal but I was wondering if you might have heard any rumblings within your industry that might indicate that anyone (companies, provinces, etc.) is considering launching such an appeal? If a province were to do it (and I fully expect that one will soon) I doubt that they would bother including the pardon issue in their court challenge but others, such as companies with a financial stake in this process, might just do so and it is entities such as those that I am wondering about.

    And on another, final, note – the Tories have said that not all parts of this Bill would be brought into effect immediately. They said that implementation would be staggered. Have you heard anything further with regards to this and whether the pardon provisions might be amongst those held back for a period of time?

    Cheers.

    • Michael says:

      Hi C,

      It sound slike you’ve done your homework on this. I haven’t heard of anyone challenging the pardons legislation (or any of it for that matter) but I am hoping someone will. The John Howard Society took the lead in challening the legislation (obviously to no avail consdiering the government in power) but I don’t think it has any plans of this sort.

      For your last questions the pardons legislation was implemented immediately. We thought we might get a warning but from one day to the next the PBC changed the rules.

      Thank you for your comments and the research you’ve done. Much appreciated.

      Michael

  • anonymous says:

    Michael,

    To switch gears here:

    I enjoy reading your blogs and especially the comments. However, what I find a bit time consuming is clicking on each blog to see if there are any new comments.

    Is there a way for you to add a widget or app to your home page, that would have a list of the 10 (or however many) most recent blog comments, regardless of what blog they happen to be on?

    I’d find this quite helpful, and imagine others might as well.

    Thanks…

  • Michael says:

    Hi Anon,

    Thanks for the compliment. In the left hand navigation section you will find the options for Authors, Categories, COMMENTS and Archives. Archives lists the ten most recent comments. I hope that helps. It is something I’ve been working on lately as it’s only fairly recently this blog has started to gather some real attention. If you have any other suggestions for making it more user friendly I would love to hear them.

    • Michael says:

      lol, I am really spending too much time in this blog. To clarify…in the left hand navigation, the COMMENTS option will show comments, not archives. Archives of course will show authors. I’m kidding of course, they should all be self explanatory. Thank you for your patience.

  • Anonymous the 3rd says:

    The point of this crime bill, supposedly, was to make our streets and communities safer. I understand that. My challenge is this: How exactly does a longer waiting time — ineligibility in some cases — result in safer streets and communities. It might act as a deterrent to some extent in the first place, but I doubt it: jail times and current laws already act as deterrents, and if one is going to commit a serious crime, I doubt the longer waiting times will make much difference. I see the opposite occuring: people being pushed into a life of crime just to make ends meet, or out of despair.

    I do believe these laws can be fought. They do appear to be a violation of our rights. Now while few of us as individuals could possibly finance such a fight, I am sure collectively it could be done. I am not a lawyer, and would not be able to lead such a fight. But I would be a very willing warrior, not just for my rights, but for those of Canadians as a whole. I pray that someone out there has the knowledge and willingness necessary to make such a fight a reality, to bring this law down.

    • Mark B says:

      Yes, everyone has the right to employment, but clearly we that have criminal records don’t. I can’t even get a minimum wage factory job. So whats left to make a living? Selling drugs or stealing?
      Far as I know all the new bills haven’t got royal assent, so there is room for changes, but as Micheal said before, I highly doubt bill C-23B (pardons) will be affected unless a large scale action is taken. I have wrote the Prime Ministers office, Justice Minister, Public Safety Minister, and the Parole Board to explain what this will do for ordinary citizens and the associated costs along with it such as, increased social assistance claims and property crimes. Even if they implemented this bill for anyone that committed the offense AFTER the crime bill came into affect, or had some governing body such as the Parole Board to review on a case by case basis. As of now, I feel more punished being denied my right to work.

  • C says:

    The only options seem to be to move to provinces where they have strict laws regarding discriminating against people with criminal records when it comes to employment. B.C., Newfoundland, and PEI have the strictest laws to protect people with records and afford them the chance at employment so maybe some of us will have to consider moving to those provinces.

  • Hi Frustrated,

    I’m afraid that taking it to court is your only option if you fall into one of the categories that is no longer eligible to apply for a pardon. I am not a lawyer and have no idea what your chances of success might be but I would guess that they are slim at best. I don’t know if you are able to appeal your conviction at this point but that would probably be easier than a Charter challenge.

    Birgit

    • Fustrated says:

      Thank you Birgit,
      I was wondering whether Parole board can use their discretion based on some extenuating circumstances and the improvement of the person. For example, since my conviction i have done a lot to improve myself including going back to get a master in public health and now thinking of going for a master in physical therapy. With this new bill, it seems that i can never work as a public health practitioner again. What should i do, somebody help me. All i need is first and last chance only!!!

  • Mark B says:

    I doubt there will be anything one can do.
    There are many people in your position that also have to put their lives on hold for 5 years.

  • Birgit Davidson says:

    Hi Again,

    What charges are we talking about, exactly, Frustrated? Feel free to email me at bdavidson@nationalpardon.org if you would prefer to discuss this privately.

    If we are talking about a sexual offence against a minor, there are a couple of exceptions to the ban. If you were less then 5 years older than the victim at the time of the offence, if you were not in a position of trust, and if no violence or threats of violence were involved, then you may still be able to apply for a pardon.

    Birgit

  • danny says:

    i haven’t been in trouble with law for years,however i owe thousands of dollars in public toxication fines.I’m struggling to pay off, what happens to my wait time does the 5 years only start after i pay off all of them which may take me years to pay off?

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