Early Eligibility and the Record Suspension Bill

Since Bill C 10 was first tabled, I have been corresponding with a client who, under the current law, becomes eligible for his pardon on March 27, 2012.

He has an indictable conviction and must until March 27, 2017 under the new proposed pardon eligibility framework before being able to apply for a record suspension.

He has been following the progress of the Bill closely and, with his eligibility date a mere 2 weeks away, was obviously very disappointed to learn that it had passed yesterday.

His first question was: can we submit the application today and see what happens? My response was: maybe. The problem is that the Parole Board normally returns pardon applications that are sent in too early.

As a rule of thumb, we can only submit pardon applications one week ahead of the date that they become eligible at the most and the same will hold true for record suspension applications. Now, it may be that the Parole Board will be feeling magnanimous in light of the changes and will try to help people out that find themselves on the cusp of becoming eligible but it is probably more realistic to expect that it will be business as usual and that applicants who are too early will have their paperwork returned.

To compound the problem: the mailroom of the Parole Board of Canada is a significant affair. A number of weeks can pass between the time that the Board decides to return an application and the time that we actually receive that application at our office.

As the situation currently stands, Bill C10 has not yet received Royal Assent and therefore has not yet become Law. It normally takes a week or 2 for this to happen. And even when it does receive Royal Assent, it includes a number of Coming into Force provisions that mean that the Governor in Council can set a specific date for a particular section to take effect.

In other words, even if the Bill were to become law tomorrow, they may not start enforcing it for some time. Unfortunately, we don’t yet know if there will be a delay in the implementation of this section of the Bill and, if there is to be a delay, how long that might be.

To return to the initial problem of taking a risk and submitting an application too early: if we assume, somewhat conservatively, that it could take a week for C10 to receive Royal Assent and that it could take another 2 weeks before the section of the Bill dealing with record suspensions comes into force, then that buys us another 3 weeks to submit applications that are close to becoming eligible.

In other words, if we are patient and can wait until, say, March 20th to submit the client’s application mentioned above, we just might get lucky and squeak in before the new law takes effect.

If, however, we are too eager and send the application in today and it is returned by the Board for being too early, we may not actually receive the returned documentation for a month, by which time the law will have changed and pardons will have been replaced by record suspensions.

Ultimately, this is an extremely complex and unfortunate situation that some of our clients now find themselves in. We are all dealing with a lot of unknown factors and all we can do, really, is guess as to what the best course of action is right now. If you are a client who is set to become eligible for a pardon/ record suspension in the next week or 2, please contact a counsellor to discuss your options.

Comment (0)
Shauna / May 7, 2012

So I am in that situation how was eligible Fe 22, 2012 and conviction was indictable and because of this new law would have to wait now until Feb 22, 2017, so what you are trying to say is that they may look this over and have some empathy on some of us like myself and give an earlier eligibility? Please let me know…thanks

Birgit Davidson / May 7, 2012

Hi Shauna,

The blog entry above was posted on the day that Bill C10 received Royal Assent so we weren’t really sure yet whether the Parole Board would make any exceptions. Unfortunately, they have now clarified that absolutely no exceptions will be made and that both you and the client I mention in my post witll have to wait until 2017 before your applications can be submitted.

Wish I could give you better news…


Shauna / May 7, 2012

ok thanks

Susan Vail / July 9, 2013

Hello Michael

I plead guilty to uttering threats to my ex-husband and was given a years probabtion in I believe I was sentenced in May 2011. My probabtion ended in May 2012.
I never breached my probation, have never had any other convictions or arrests or otherwise illegal incidents in my past. This was a one time incident, in which every other lawyer, except the Legal Aid Council who advised me, said I should have plead not-guilty and that I could easily have won my case. Regardless, when will I be eligible for a pardon in order to at least travel through the States in order to reach other destinations or in the States to see friends that I have there? I had read that with the type of conviction that I had I would be able to apply for a Pardon after two years, has that changed?

Please use only my first name when posting this comment,

Thank you, Susan

Michael Ashby / July 10, 2013

Hi Susan,

You will be able to apply for your 5 years from completion of your sentence. I am not sure where you saw a 2 year wait since that has never been an applicable time frame.

Your other option is a US entry waiver but once you have one you will need one forever. Still, you could apply for that right away and it would allow you to travel.

Kind regards,



Leave A Comment

Recent Posts

Contact Us