Part of the changes made to the Pardon system following Bill C10, the Conservative government’s omnibus crime bill was the additional requirement of showing a “measurable benefit” when applying for a pardon. In other words, if the pardon is not going to help you be a better, more law abiding citizen then you cannot have one.
It’s an odd thing to require because the benefits of removing a criminal record are very clear, both to those of us who have a criminal record and those of us who do not. I can’t think of a single person who would not benefit from removing a criminal record.
Nonetheless the requirement is simple enough to satisfy although the word “measurable” may need to be used loosely. After all, how do we “measure” happiness, or self satisfaction or peace of mind?
One way to actually measure a benefit provided by a pardon / record suspension would be through employment, although again, “measure” doesn’t exactly feel like the right word. Still, this is the route we normally advise our clients to take. By obtaining a pardon / record suspension the applicant can claim any one of the following measurable benefits:
1. It will allow me to apply for better employment.
2. It will allow me to advance further in my existing career.
3. It will allow me to pursue more lucrative employment opportunities and provide for myself and my family better.
4. It will allow me to pursue an education that in return will lead to a rewarding career.
Of course it’s even better if you have an actual job offer or admissions to a university or college. But that isn’t necessary. The point is that the letter should not necessarily focus on you the applicant, but on how you, the applicant, will become a more productive member of society. The Parole Board doesn’t care if a pardon will make you feel better about yourself.
You also need to explain a bit about how removing your criminal record will keep you away from further crime. I’m not sure this part is necessary because when we look at the stats about past applicants a full 97% of them never re-offend. It makes us wonder why the Conservative government was so desperate to make sure people applying for pardons are no longer involved in crime. The evidence clearly showed they are not.
Fortunately, pardons were not eliminated. They were just renamed to record suspensions. So if you find yourself needing one just keep in mind that you will need to explain the measurable benefit aspect to the Parole Board of Canada. If you don’t there is a very good chance your application will be refused.
Below are the guidelines provided on the record suspension application forms for those interested.
As per section 4.1 of the Criminal Records Act (CRA), you must clearly describe how receiving a Record Suspension would provide you with a measurable benefit AND sustain your rehabilitation into society as a law abiding citizen. Fill in ALL sections of the Measurable Benefit/Sustained Rehabilitation Form included at the back of this Guide. If you do not fill in all sections, the PBC will return your application to you. If you don’t have enough room to include all the requested information, attach additional pages to the form.