Pardons – What’s New?


Sadly the big news in pardons is that the cost of getting one has skyrocketed. Following legislative changes championed by the Conservative government the fee for filing your application with the Parole Board of Canada went from $50 to $631. And of course most service providers, having wasted so many resources fighting the legislation, followed suit although not nearly to the same extent.

If you are reading this and thinking about getting a pardon or waiver started soon do it now because we will also be raising our fees in the near future. It will not be a drastic increase but it’s going up a bit. After all, that thing called inflation also still exists.


Pardons were renamed to record suspensions. We still call it a pardon because a pardon is an actual word with a history and definition that people identify with. But if you prefer to call it a record suspension please feel free to. These days considering why people are applying we could also call it a work permit.


The waiting periods for eligibility were once 3 years for summary offences and 5 years for indictable offences. Then it was changed to 3 years for summary but 5 years for non violent offences and 10 years for violent and sexual offences. In fact this initial adjustment made sense and few people opposed it. But the Conservative government felt all indictable offense should be subject to a 10 year wait. Why? We aren’t sure. But if you find out please give me a call.


Something like 23,000 older pardon applications are backlogged at the Parole Board so if you ever felt like venting your frustration at government bureaucracy this would be a good one to vent on. Sadly enough the after many years in business the Parole Board was finally starting to be somewhat predictable when it came to time frames. Same goes for the RCMP. Amazingly enough we were quoting average time frames to clients and they were remarkably consistent.

Nowadays anyone giving you an exact time to get a pardon done should be dealt with skeptically. We will still provide you with a guideline but we’re also going to make it clear that things are not guaranteed under any circumstances.


I am not sure how to finish off a post like so I will just talk about why all these changes took place. It all came about when the media reported that Graham James had received a pardon. The Tories took that ball and ran with it and even Sheldon Kennedy,former victim and NHL star got on board too.

I met Mr. Kennedy at the Standing Committee when we discussed the bill in question and I would like to say how much I admire the courage it must take to discuss an experience like his. I’m not opposed to the changes that prevent the likes of Graham James from getting a pardon. In fact I support Graham James not getting a pardon. The problem of course is that the net was cast too wide and a lot of people have been affected by these new laws without any evidence to support why the changes were needed in the first place.

Welcome to politics.

Nic Standing Committee Final

Comment (0)
Kimberly Clay / June 7, 2013

The pardons backlog has its origins in the case of Graham James, the highly-regarded junior hockey coach convicted in 1997 and 1998 of sexually assaulting some of his players. In 2007, a few years after completing his prison sentence, James quietly obtained a pardon from the parole board.

Michael Ashby / June 7, 2013

Hi Kimberly,

You’re right. It all started with that one media story. Sad to day that it takes a NHL hockey player to sufficiently enrage Canadians and prompt changes to the system, even though there was no evidence to suggest those changes were necessary. I’m just glad to see the Tories are finally getting the kicks they deserve even if it’s for unrelated matters.



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