The bill was rushed through the House of Commons and Senate in order to make good Harper’s promise to pass the crime bill within 100 days of sitting. As a result, many aspects of the bill haven’t been examined as thoroughly as needed. For example, actual studies into the financial impact the bill would impose as well as in terms of the overall crime rate, number of victims, the cost of crime to the community or the incidence of violent crime.
In rushing the bill to be passed, the government overlooked a number of issues that critics have highlighted. As a consequence to the bill being passed, the government now intends to take their time in being able to introduce these new laws into the system.
One main change to the law system is that regarding the pardons. Those who have criminal records could previously apply for a pardon and clear their criminal record upon showing they are law-abiding citizens. With Bill C-10, pardons no longer exist; they are now replaced with what are called “record suspensions”.
A record suspension differs from a pardon in a few ways. The purpose behind this change is reflected in the whole purpose of the new legislation: to be tough on crime. Thereby, the government was of the opinion that a pardon bestows too much forgiveness to “criminals”, and a record suspension provides a conditional corridor in which those with criminal records can have their records suspended yet face the possibility of the suspension being removed if they are believed to be unworthy of it.
Unfortunately for most, while the government has spoken about working on each new aspect of the bill slowly and thoroughly, the system of record suspensions take place from the passing of the bill. The Parole Board of Canada has already upgraded their system with the new protocol and paperwork required for the record suspension process. All applications that had been submitted to the National Parole Board before the bill was passed will remain under the pardon system if they are done completely and accurately. All applications submitted after March 14 2012 will be processed under record suspension law.
The biggest difference in the two systems is the eligibility periods applicable to those with criminal records. Those with summary convictions had to wait 3 years after their sentence was complete before they were able to apply for a pardon. Now, they must wait 5 years to be eligible for a record suspension. Similarly, those with indictable offences had to wait 5 years under pardon law, and must wait 10 years under record suspension law.
Many other changes have been implemented in order to make the process much more difficult, for example added formalities, extra documentation, and higher costs.
For further questions regarding record suspensions, Record Suspension Services of Canada is an expert organization that offers free consultations and information.
Please call us toll-free at 1-800-298-5520.