The federal government plans to table legislation by the end of this year to issue pardons to Canadians who were convicted in the past of simple possession of cannabis, officials announced Wednesday.
The Liberal government also plans to waive the fee and waiting period for Canadians seeking pardons for such cases, said Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
Goodale said the proposed legislation will “shed the burden and stigma” and break down barriers to jobs, education, housing or volunteer work for Canadians with past convictions of simple possession.
These pardons will be available to any Canadians who have criminal records for cases of possession of 30 grams or less, which is the new possession limit defined by Bill-45 that legalized recreational cannabis use as of midnight Wednesday.
A long legislative road ahead
But Goodale warned the proposed legislation faces a windy road through parliament before it becomes law and pardons of criminal records can be issued.
“That is not a singular event. That is a process,” he said. “As a general principle, removing the stigma of a criminal record for people who have served their sentence and then have shown themselves to be law-abiding citizens enhances public safety for all Canadians.”
The left-of-centre New Democratic Party is calling on the government to go a step further and table legislation that will expunge the criminal records for simple possession completely.
Goodale said the government did not adopt that approach, because it is for cases where there has been a “profound historical injustice,” such as when a charter right was violated.
With files from The Canadian Press and CBC