MP Murray Rankin calls for Cannabis Amnesty

Private Members Bill would substitute expungement for pardons proposed by Liberal goveernment

News Release

MP Murray Rankin asks government to change their approach to criminal records for cannabis possession.

For immediate release

Ottawa, April 10, 2019 – Although the government brought in legislation to offer free record suspensions for some individuals with criminal records for cannabis possession, NDP MP Murray Rankin is adamant: that measure won’t help the most vulnerable. Rankin’s Private Members Bill C-415 which proposes expungement instead of record suspensions will be debated again today in the House of Commons and has been praised by legal experts, activists and community leaders alike for providing a more thorough solution.

“Expunging criminal records— which can’t be revoked or accidentally disclosed like a record suspension could— is the best way to ensure people trying can a fair chance at getting a job, a volunteer opportunity, or an apartment. Shamefully, we know that Indigenous and black people in Canada were disproportionately prosecuted for Cannabis possession,” Rankin stated.

Grand Chief Stewart Philip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, agreed: “Indigenous people have been hurt proportionally more with criminal records for cannabis possession.  Simply ‘pardoning’ them through a record suspension system doesn’t work. Justice demands that these records be erased completely. Indigenous people in Canada don’t deserve to have a record for something that is now perfectly legal, reducing their chances of employment and freedom of travel. I offer my full support to MP Rankin’s bill.”

Multiculturalism Critic for the NDP, MP Jenny Kwan, said:

“Marginalized communities such as Indigenous youth and Black Canadians have been disproportionately impacted by this offence.  For many members of this community, accessing the pardon system can be an insurmountable barrier.  Given that possession of cannabis is no longer a criminal offence, the previous records should be expunged. If we can expunge the criminal records convictions related to laws against acts of homosexuality, there is no reason why we can't do the same for possession of cannabis.  It simply takes political will.”

NDP MP Matt Dube, Critic for Public Safety, added: “A record suspension will not remove the real consequences of these records. Only full and automatic expungement will right this historical wrong inflicted on vulnerable Canadians for something that is now legal.”

The vote on the Rankin’s PMB will take place on May 2nd

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Melanie Richer

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