The New Canadian Pardon Rules – Bill C-10 and Bill C-23A Explained
The New Canadian Pardon rules were established with two separate pieces of legislation; Bill C10 and Bill C23A.
The bill to amend the criminal records act was first introduced as Bill C23. At the time however the Conservative held only a minority government. Since the legislation was poorly conceived the opposition parties did not support the bill in its entirety.
Still, media stories concerning Graham James and Karla Homolka receiving pardons fuelled considerable moral outrage in the minds of many Canadians so something needed to be done. We were just asked to ignore the fact that Canada’s pardon program had a 97% success rate out of 400,000 previously issued pardons.
Bill C23 was split into two sections, bill C23A and Bill C23B. The A section contained the more sensible measures from the original including a stipulation that would give the Parole Board of Canada power to refuse a pardon for any reasons whatsoever. In other words, Bill C23A solved the Homolka and James problem and any others that might arise. Bill C23A also increased the eligibility periods for a pardon to 10 years in the case of serious personal injury offences and sexual offences. Not many people opposed that bill.
However, the Tories thought there was more to be done.
Bill C23A left out the more contentious issues like a 3 strikes rule and renaming the program to record suspension. It also left out the measure that would exclude any sexual offence involving a minor from ever receiving a pardon.
When Bill C23A passed many of us thought that would be the end of it.Â After all there is a limited lifespan in any political offering and we thought this one had run its course.
As Bill C23B and the more contentious issues continued to be debated the opposition parties brought down the government. Again, we thought this would be the end of it. But the Tories ran on a tough on crime platform that resonated with the people. This brought us Bill C10.
Bill C10 is also known as the omnibus crime bill. It contained several different crime bills that all related to matters of criminal justice. Almost the entire criminal justice community spoke out against this bill. But the Tories didn’t seem to care.
Bill C10 passed easily because the Conservative government emerged from the election with a majority victory. The Tories were now able to pass any legislation they wanted.
It is outside the scope of this article to discuss anything from Bill C10 that it outside of the pardons legislation. But the changes in Bill C10 are really what changed pardons and brought us the new Canadian pardon rules.
Bill C10 contained the meat of the changes to the pardon program. Here is a brief list of the new Canadian pardon rules that were contained in Bill C10.
- The term pardon was renamed to record suspension.
- Pardon eligibility changed from 3, 5 and 10 years to 5 and 10 years.
- 3 Strikes and you’re no longer eligible for a pardon.
- Sexual offences involving a minor are no longer eligible for a pardon.
That is a brief history of the legislation that brought us the new Canadian pardon rules. It is a shame that it had to happen at all. People who are applying for pardons normally just want to get back to work.
It’s hard to understand any government wanting to prevent someone from doing that.
For Outside Reading on these bills click below: