Liberals table bill to make criminal pardons quicker, cheaper

Pardons may come quicker

The federal government is tabling legislation to make it easier and less expensive to obtain a criminal pardon.

Introduced in the House of Commons this morning, the bill to amend the Criminal Records Act would undo measures introduced by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives that made people wait longer and pay more for a pardon.

Under the Conservative changes, lesser offenders — those with a summary conviction — must wait five years instead of three before they can apply.

Offenders who have served a sentence for a more serious crime — an indictable offence — must wait 10 years instead of five. Both those rules would be reversed under the new legislation.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the cost of applying for a pardon shot up to $658 from $150 over the last 10 years, pushing down the number of applicants by more than half.

Blair says a smoother path to pardons will remove barriers to employment, travel and housing applications and clear the way to reintegration.

The Conservatives have previously said taxpayers should not subsidize the cost of pardons.

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