Pardon Fee Increase Unfair and Fiscally Irresponsible

By February 10, 2011 Pardon 3 Comments

It is hard to imagine a more mean spirited and illogical approach to criminal justice than the tough on crime agenda being pursued by the Conservative government. Not only is it counter-productive it is fiscally irresponsible.

Their approach to the pardon issues is a clear case of an administration that prefers punishment over fair and sensible social policy, even when fair and sensible comes with an obvious financial benefit to society.

The conservatives are willing to spend billions on new prisons. Price is no concern for minimum sentences and rigid parole policies. But for those people who have made a mistake involving the law and who wish to put that mistake in the past by applying for a pardon, there is not a penny to be found.

There is a very simple argument to be made for keeping the cost of a pardon within reach of the average person because a majority of people seeking pardons are doing so to get a job. It makes sense to facilitate that transition because a criminal record makes it very difficult to find employment. In this day and age criminal background checks are more common than ever.

What sense can it make to put up barriers for people who only want to move with their lives and find work? If our society cannot make a pardon affordable then we have not only lost sight of fair social policy, we have also lost sight of basic economics. People with work pay taxes. The unemployed do not. They also happen to have more frequent encounters with the law.

During the review of Bill C-23B at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security I argued exactly this point, although the potential cost increase at that time was only to $500. I was assured by Dave Mackenzie, Conservative MP for Oxford Ontario that I was mistaken and that the fee would only increase to $150. Yet here we are again.

Raising the fee for a pardon from only $50 as recently as December of 2010 to over $600 just a few months later, is a good example of missing the forest for the trees. Pardons are not about victims and they are not about punishment. Pardons are about rehabilitation and reintegration. They are about allowing people to become contributing members of society. Pardons are good for everyone because a contributing member of society is far less likely to re-offend than those held back at every turn.

On the other hand maybe pardons are about victims as well. Because a program that does so much to stop the cycle of crime does more to prevent future victimization than any tough on crime agenda could ever hope to.

Keeping pardons affordable, therefore, is the responsibility of a fair and just society.

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 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 ou par téléphone au poste 227.


  • catherine says:

    Very bad for poor people, then have a hard enough time finding jobs etc. You expect these people to try and get jobs with small records, not happening. How can they pay taxes when they can’t pay the fee the clear their records? VERY BAD IDEA!!!

  • Me says:

    A look at the Canada jobbank website shows A shocking amount of companies wanting a records check. Even restaurants now like Boston Pizza and Smitty’s require one and mostly this is because insurance bonds are requiring it. and these are minimum wage jobs. what kind of a society do we live in where someone who wants to get a pardon and provide for themselves and their families can’t because of fees. So what happens if a low income person does happen to scrape together the $631 plus the fees for fingerprints and checks, only to be denied? Courts are notorious for issues that can deny a pardon. And in this economy…. Well at least the immigrants will be happier.

  • Scott says:

    The real criminals are the ones raising the prices. Maybe it’s to help pay for the useless elections the so-called government calls when it feels like. Its a shame that we dont see the government as criminals, from their operations on a daily basis, but do something one time in your life wrong and they see you as one…

Leave a Reply to Me Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

newspaper templates - theme rewards