You can still get a pardon

Bill C23B contained a lot of ineffective ideas that haven’t the faintest hope of making anyone any safer. But one thing is thankfully did not do was eliminate pardons. Although some of our competitors made easy sales by saying pardons would no longer be possible once the bill passed, this was simply not true.

Bill C23B (which was later included in Bill C10 also known as the Conservative omnibus crime bill) did eliminate pardons for some offenders. The majority of the people no longer able to obtain pardons are those who have sexual offences involving a minor. Others excluded from obtaining a pardon are those with more than 3 indictable offences each of which was punished by more than 2 years in jail. The rest of the 3 million Canadians with a criminal record should be ok to apply.

So how did these other companies convince so many people that pardons would no longer be available?

It is because pardons were renamed to record suspensions. I have written about this before but it is worth repeating because a record suspension is still a pardon. If you are still eligible to get a record suspension it will be the exact same thing as a pardon. We can call apples oranges if we like but they are still going to be apples.

So don’t be fooled. There is a lot of misinformation out there on Canadian pardons and criminal records. And as bad as BIllC23B was for the pardon program it did not wipe out pardons entirely. For the most part it is business as usual.

The big changes are what we would expect from any government, but particularly this one. Pardons are now more expensive, more difficult to obtain and you have to wait longer in line before you can be eligible to have your criminal record sealed.

So much for the Conservative’s being that party that wants people getting back to work.


Comment (0)
Jeff / July 19, 2012

I have an indictable back in 2004 (July 30). Court case was December, judge was flustered with crown and needed to go through everything again. In January he sentenced me to 2 months house arrest, 1 year probation. I was under the old law, I would have been eligible April 2011: (Late January to March for house arrest in 2005, probation until March 2006, can apply April 2011 — however, at that time, they said it was being changed, I waited a couple months, and when I came back to the site (canada gov sit) it said 10 years…not 5…what is the truth her?

Kyle Pistawka / July 20, 2012

Hi Jeff,

In March of this year, so just before you would have been eligible under the old laws, the government passed legislation that changed the eligibility rules. So now a person guilty of an indictable offence is not eligible until 10 years after the sentence is completed and any fines are paid (as you mentioned this used to be 5 years). Unfortunatley any applications that were not already in with the government at the time the laws changed have to abide by the new legislation. So based on the information you provided you would not be eligible until April 2016.


Jay / July 27, 2012

I am on the same boat that Jeff is on. I find this to be unfair as at the time of my sentencing I was told I only had to wait 5 years and now 10 years. This bill is retroactive and I find this to be in violation of my Charter of Rights. Can you please recommend any lawyer or legal professional that can file a case based on the violation of my Charter or Rights? It is unfair and unjust treatment.

We were told one thing and now being told something else due to the new legislation.

kosta / July 27, 2012

hi jays i do agree with you my eliabilty date was also april 18 2012 so
i fell behind on that the gouverment should give some grace period for the
citizens its just not fair for us to wait another five years i will be 47 years old plus the time to apply and wait for the pardon i will be 49 years old some one needs to speak to the harper gouverment

Michael Ashby / July 31, 2012

Hi Kosta,

You may want to check out our latest post.

Best regards,


Kyle Pistawka / July 30, 2012

Hi Jay & Kosta,

I completly agree that the changes enacted can be extremely unfair and having to wait another 5 years is a painful pill to swallow. Our organization, along with many other organizations and criminal/legal experts lobbied the government and spoke out against this legislation. But unfortunatley common sense did not prevail and it passed into law in March. I cannot recommned any specific lawyer but I am sure that you are not the only person looking into challenging this law and I wish you all the best.


Jay / July 30, 2012

Hi Kyle,

Are you currently aware of any organizations or lawyers that are in the process of challenging this new amendment? Also, would you be able to tell me an organization to contact with regards to filing a challenge on this new law?

Any help is greatly appreciated Kyle.

Michael Ashby / July 31, 2012

Hi Jay,

Interestingly enough I posted some information on this just today. Check out our most recent blog.

If we can be of any further help please get in touch.

Michael Ashby

KB / August 30, 2013

This new bill has put a hold on my future once again. I think pardons should be based by circumstance. I committed a crime when I was in my late teens.(16 years ago) I started the process 3 years ago and found out I still owed $56 towards a fine, I had no idea. I paid the amount owning and was then told I had to wait 3 years. Now with this new bill, I now have to wait 5 years. So I have another 2 year wait. I know I have to pay the consequences for my actions, but I done that long ago. This has been a barrier to employment and preventing me from my dream job.

Michael Ashby / September 3, 2013

Hi KB,

Your situation is all too familiar to me. You can thank Stephen Harper, Vic Toews and the Conservative Party of Canada for this mess. The Pardon system was actually just starting to become streamlined and relatively free from bureaucracy when the Tories got involved.

Best luck to you,



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