National Parole Board Pardon Fee Increase

During our presentation to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security one of the items we decided to discuss was the proposed National Parole Board pardon fee increase. We didn’t agree with it.

We have known for some time that a fee increase was coming but we thought we give it a shot and see what could perhaps get the increase reduced. It turned out the Conservative MP’s at the committee had already made up their minds.

Michael Ashby at the Standing Committee

Me at the Standing Committee during a review of the criminal records act.

Nonetheless I gave it a shot. I argued to the committee that subsidizing a program like pardons makes sense from a fiscal perspective because so often the result of a pardon is that the person goes on to get a job.  And of course being employed means paying taxes. It’s actually pretty simple logic.

However, the argument fell on deaf ears. I am not surprised really. The fee was $50 for a long time and it was due for an increase. When it was first increased to $150 no one in the industry disagreed. After all, the $50 fee had stood for a long, long time (I’m not sure exactly but it must have been a couple of decades).

Increasing the cost to $150 was meant to allow the Parole Board to put more resources into the program and provide a better service. It was pretty good news. It was balanced. It kind of made sense.

Unfortunately, the Tories weren’t finished scoring points with the tough on crime crowd and I knew it.

I was criticized at the Committee by a certain Conservative MP when I expressed my concern that the $150 mark was not the end of the fee increase. He claimed there was nothing in the works that would suggest another increase was coming. I told him the literature we were given indicated otherwise. I was right. He didn’t care.

Now here were are with the Parole Board filing fee costing $631. This is on top of the cost of fingerprinting, the cost of court records, RCMP certifications and local police checks. Getting a pardon in Canada today is not an inexpensive pursuit.

Fortunately you can still get a pardon it is just going to cost a little more. I wish we could have done more with our ten minutes in Ottawa. But if you have ever participated in a political discussion like this you probably know that it is not usually a sincere discussion. Both sides have chosen their position and neither is willing to budge. The Tories are notorious for partisan politics, particularly in the domain of criminal justice.

Any questions? Give me a call or send me an email.

Michael Ashby

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