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QUESTION PERIOD — Ministry of Public Safety

Expungement of Criminal Records

May 31, 2023

Welcome, minister. Recently, you reiterated your laudable support for the automatic expungement of criminal records and the implementation of such a model.

Could you please update us on the progress of your work to implement an automated pardon system, including how you’re considering: one, historical convictions, for instance soliciting, which disproportionately impacts women and which is currently missing from the list of historical convictions; and two, the impacts and contributions of records to the continued overrepresentation in our criminal, legal and prison systems of the poor, those with disabling mental health issues and racialized people, especially Indigenous women who now make up 50% of the federal prison population, many of whom have also been convicted of violent offences largely in response to their experiences of violence?

Hon. Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Safety [ + ]

Senator Pate, I want to begin by thanking you for not only your advocacy but your collaboration on this important issue. I believe that the point of departure for this discussion centres around the disproportionate interactions between racialized Canadians, Indigenous peoples and our law enforcement institutions including correctional institutions which fall under the purview of the federal government, which is why once they have completed their sentence, there should be a pathway that allows them to reintegrate fully into the community. The pardon regime is one way in which we can achieve that objective.

What I have done, as you will know, is significantly reduce the fees from what used to be approximately $600 down to $50, which is a substantial reduction in the financial burden. I acknowledge we can and will do more.

Second, by helping those who are applying for a pardon to navigate the system so that it is as seamless and free from barriers as possible.

I will say that I am well aware of the private member’s bill that you are sponsoring. You and I have had some productive conversations. I believe there is broad alignment in what we are trying to achieve, but we have to take those next steps.

The last thing I would say, Senator Pate, is that, as you will know, with the work of the NDP through my colleague Minister Lametti’s Bill C-5, a bill that helped make reforms around the repeal of mandatory minimum penalties, we were able to achieve an automatic sequestration regime, albeit for a small subset of offences touching on drug offences.

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