Government introduces legislation to eliminate pardons for serious crimes
Ottawa, May 11, 2010 — The Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, and the Honourable Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, Senator, today announced legislation to eliminate pardons for serious crimes.
“The current system of pardons implies that what the person did is somehow okay, or is forgiven, or that the harm done has somehow disappeared,” said Minister Toews. “Our government disagrees, and is on the side of victims. That is why we are taking action to replace the current system and eliminate pardons for serious crimes.”
Under the current system “pardons” are granted almost automatically. The new system would allow a “record suspension” in more limited circumstances – much more limited, in cases of serious crime – and it would make a record suspension impossible for anyone convicted of a sex offence against a child.
The proposed legislation would:
- eliminate “pardons” and replace with a more restrictive and narrowly worded “record suspension”;
- make those convicted of sexual offences against minors ineligible for a record suspension;
- make those who have been convicted of more than three indictable offences ineligible for a record suspension; and
- increase the period of ineligibility for a record suspension – to five years for summary conviction offences, and to ten years for indictable offences.
In addition, the proposed legislation sets out conditions that must be met to ensure a record suspension would not bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The onus would be on the applicant to show that a record suspension would help sustain his or her rehabilitation as a law-abiding member of society. The proposed legislation would also require the National Parole Board to submit a report each year with detailed statistics pertaining to the number of applications and the number of record suspensions granted.
“A criminal’s jail term may end, but in many cases the suffering caused to his or her victims lasts a lifetime,” said Senator Boisvenu. “Canadians are outraged when they hear of serious crimes being whitewashed through pardons. Our government agrees that a serious crime is still a serious crime, no matter how much time has passed. This legislation will help protect our children and our communities, and it will better reflect Canadians’ natural sense of justice.”
An online version of the legislation will be available at www.parl.gc.ca
For more information:
Public Safety Canada