MP calls federal government’s cannabis pardon ‘half-baked’

Murray Rankin introduced bill to expunge criminal possession records for free

Murray Rankin, Victoria MP (Contributed photo)

Cannabis became legal in Canada on Oct. 17, but some Canadians are still facing repercussions of when the drug was still illegal.

The morning of Oct. 17, the Liberals said they are going to put forward a bill to pardon criminal records from cannabis possession convictions, but MP Murray Rankin said that’s not good enough.

“It makes all the world of difference for people who have to fill out forms and say they do or don’t have convictions for criminal activity,” Rankin said Wednesday. “My bill is about expungement of records for people who have simple possession charges, people who have been convicted of what after today is a totally legal offence.”

By expunging the criminal offence, it’s deemed by law not to have happened. It affects applications for housing, jobs or trying to cross the U.S. border, which currently does not recognize pardons, Rankin said.

READ MORE: Streamlined pardon process for pot possession convictions in Canada

Rankin introduced his own bill in Parliament on Oct. 4, less than two weeks before the Cannabis Act came into effect. He said it was ironic that the government was critical of the provinces for not being ready for the Oct. 17 legalization, but don’t have their bill about pardons written. He’s still hoping he can work with the Liberals on their bill, although his is now before Parliament.

“They’re going to bring in a pardon regime, which is a very half-baked measure that won’t do what needs to be done.”

Minister Goodale said they are not considering expungement, although, like Rankin’s bill, they would make the process of applying to clear a criminal record quick and free. Currently, there is a $631 fee for the application.

“Not a lot of poor Indigenous or inner-city blacks in Toronto are going to have that kind of money to apply. The sad part is those are the very people we need to help,” Rankin said. “This is a matter of justice.”

Rankin argues that possession of cannabis does qualify for expungement. Goodale said it is not a historical injustice, but Rankin points to the disproportionate number of black or Indigenous Canadians who were convicted of possession.

In the Cannabis Stats Hub created by Statistics Canada, it shows that criminal offences of possessing cannabis were nearly twice as high in B.C. as the national average per population. More than 500,000 Canadians have criminal records of possession.

Rankin said he has not heard of what will happen to Canadians currently serving time for possessing cannabis, but said he was told there are some.

READ MORE: Central Saanich will allow police officers to use pot


@KeiliBartlett
keili.bartlett@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

GoodLife marathon helps enrich lives, share stories

Seniors’ care one of many causes supported by GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon

Central Saanich strawberry farmer reports bumper crop

Strawberry season could last well into October

Oak Bay community invited to News’ 5th annual readers tea

Oak Bay News, Carlton House host Sept. 17 afternoon tea

Tour Government House and other homes, enjoy art along the way

The Art Gallery’s 66th annual House Tour features artists at work, artistic floral displays

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Tragic bus crash, Pacific FC win and Terry Fox runs

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Scheer makes quick campaign stop in Comox

Conservative leader highlights tax promises early in campaign

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Most Read