MP Murray Rankin pleased to work with government to address plight of the thousands of Canadians with cannabis convictions

OTTAWA - Two weeks after MP Murray Rankin tabled a bill to expunge the records of those with cannabis convictions, Liberal cabinet ministers announced today that they would introduce a bill later this year to create a free and expedited pardon process for Canadians with cannabis convictions. Under MP Rankin’s bill, Canadians could apply for an expungement immediately and there would be no application or processing fee. 

“I am pleased the Liberals accepted the essence of my bill and are trying to address the plight of the many thousands of Canadians with criminal records for activity that is now perfectly legal,” said MP Rankin. “It’s disappointing that they don’t have anything ready. They’ve had three years for this. I tabled a bill a couple weeks ago that would expunge cannabis convictions. I’ve told them I’d be happy if they took my bill.”  

Minister Goodale said this morning that the government was not considering expungement. The Minister claimed expungement is only to be used in cases where there is a ‘profound historical injustice’ that needs to be corrected.

“I am most disappointed that Minister Goodale ruled out expungement because he claims that there is no historical injustice, but I completely disagree. The disproportionate impacts felt by Indigenous and racialized communities represent a deep historical injustice and one that should be addressed immediately,” said MP Rankin. 

An estimated 500,000 Canadians carry a criminal record for possession of small quantities of cannabis. Among those, a widely disproportionate number of them are members of Canada's Indigenous and racialized communities.

Pardons and expungement are very different. While each is helpful in clearing the name of a convicted person, a pardon involves forgiving a conviction; a record expungement ‘erases’ the record. A person pardoned for a crime would still have to check the ‘convicted of a criminal offence’ box on an application for housing or employment.

“I would welcome the chance to help the Liberals on this. I’ll continue to push for an expungement process because I think it’s the right thing to do,” added Rankin. 

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