History – How did this happen?
The pardons backlog is a result of the Conservative government’s tough on crime agenda, specifically Bill C-23, which was ultimately passed as a part of the omnibus crime bill Bill C-10.
After years of fighting most of the criminal justice community in Canada over this bill – including the National Pardon Centre – the bill was finally passed. The new legislation came into effect in Early 2012.
Pardon applicants who had already submitted their application – completed and correct – to the Parole Board of Canada were grandfathered into the old rules. However, years have gone by and thousands of people are still waiting to have their criminal record set aside.
If you happen to be one of those people you know how frustrating this is. If you are one of our clients we want to assure you that we have no control over this problem. If we did, we would have fixed it by now.
What Can I do?
If you haven’t already, it may be worthwhile calling the Parole Board to inquire about the status of your application. It will not help them move things along any faster but it might give you an idea of what stage you are at.
The only solution the Parole Board has offered so far is for applicants to withdraw their existing application – forfeiting ALL of the money and time already spent – in order to resubmit under the new guidelines.
If you do this you will technically be applying for a record suspension, rather than a pardon. However the end result is the same. Your criminal record will be sealed and kept separate from active criminal records.
Here at the National Pardon Centre we still call it a pardon, because it’s essentially the same thing.
More information on the backlog:
Toronto Star Editorial by Michael Ashby, Director, National Pardon Centre
Ipolitics Editorial by Michael Ashby, Director, National Pardon Centre
CBC Coverage – Pardon backlog leaves thousands of former offenders in limbo
The Toronto Star – Pardons backlog creates two-tier justice for newer, wealthier applicants
Ottawa Citizen – Adami: Man stuck waiting for pardon after stealing pack of smokes in 1983
National Pardon Blog – Pardon Backlog Continues