NDP statement on pardons for marijuana possession charges
March 6th, 2018 - 12:31pm
NDP Justice Critic Murray Rankin made the following statement:
“After two years of NDP calls for pardons for those slapped with criminal records after Liberal promises to legalize marijuana, I was pleased to read media reports that the Liberal Member of Parliament for Hull-Aylmer is pledging to address marijuana possession charges that continue to affect thousands of Canadians, particularly young, Black and Indigenous Canadians.
This issue has been overlooked for far too long. We’ve had an intolerable situation where— despite the Liberal government promising to decriminalize some offences relating to marijuana – thousands of Canadians have still been burdened with criminal records for these same offences. A criminal record significantly hinders any Canadian’s ability to find employment and suitable housing, and travel becomes much more difficult. The consequences it can have on a person’s life are significant and wide-ranging, and, importantly, most of the hardship endured due to these criminal records was and remains entirely preventable.
Back in 2016, during debate in the House of Commons, I called on the government to “recognize the contradiction of continuing to give Canadian criminal records for simple possession of marijuana after the government has stated that it should not be a crime.” This demand, which has been echoed by several of my New Democrat colleagues, remains unheeded. The NDP attempted to amend the government’s legislation at committee to include a clause to make it easier for Canadians to apply for pardons, but this amendment was defeated by Liberal members of the committee.
It is no secret that these possession charges disproportionately affect marginalized members of our communities— especially young people, Indigenous, and Black Canadians. This is another shameful example of how inequality persists in our society. It is my sincere hope that the government will finally act and do the right thing for all Canadians.”
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