Liberals close the door on justice

Private Member's Bill to expunge cannabis prohibition records defeated by Liberal and Conservative Votes

May 1st, 2019



OTTAWA — Today Liberals voted against MP Murray Rankin’s Private Member’s Bill C-415 that would expunge criminal records for cannabis possession despite agreeing that black Canadians and Indigenous people have been disproportionately affected by drug laws.

In Vancouver, Indigenous people are nearly 7 times more likely than white people to be arrested for possession.  In Regina, Indigenous people were 9 times more likely to get arrested for cannabis possession than white people. In Toronto, black people are 3 times more likely to be arrested for simple possession of marijuana than white Torontonians despite equal rates of use.  In Halifax, black people are 4 times more likely to be arrested than white people. 

Instead of eliminating the criminal records, the Liberals have proposed a record suspension program that requires a complicated application process.

“It is beyond disturbing that the government is doing the bare minimum for people with criminal records for something that is now perfectly legal,” Rankin stated. “Not only is the government refusing to expunge records, they are proceeding with an application process they know to be ineffective.”

M.P. Matthew Dube has been pushing the Liberal government to unburden those with criminal records so they can gain meaningful employment, volunteer in their communities and find suitable housing.  

Dube said, “The government already has an expungement process for other offences that is done by application. They know it is not a real solution: only seven people out of 9,000 have actually applied. Considering that data came from the government, surely, they know asking people to apply is an incredibly flawed process.  It's pretty apparent that Canadians who are already marginalized might not be in a position to take advantage of this. If they’re serious about this they need to expunge the records automatically.”

Rankin added,  “In San Francisco, where only 23 of 9,400 people took advantage of their opportunity to seek pardons for cannabis possession when they were forced to apply. It isn’t difficult to see that an automatic process is required.”

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