Michael Spratt is testing two theories: can the government retroactively extend how long a person must wait for a pardon, and will people pay to find out?
Spratt is a partner at Abergel Goldstein & Partners, and he’s trying to crowd-fund a constitutional challenge for one of his clients. Michael Charron — his client – confessed to trafficking cocaine in 2008. He was, himself, an addict, and was dealing to feed his habit. He accidentally tried to sell to an undercover police officer.
Charron confessed to the crime, took responsibility for his actions, and underwent addiction counseling. He cleaned up, and went back to school. He was counting on applying for a pardon after his life was adequately patched up.
But in March 2012, the Conservative Government introduced Bill C-10. It was their omnibus justice bill that upended many aspects of the criminal justice system. One of the biggest changes came to the pardon system. In fact, it did away with “pardons” altogether. Bill C-10 introduced the idea of “record suspensions.” More importantly, it means that those with convictions will have to wait longer before they can suppress their criminal conviction.
For those with summary convictions, they will have to wait five years (up from three) whereas those will have to wait a decade (previously, they waited only five years.)
Those with more than three indictable convictions of two or more years will never be able to apply for a record suspension.
It’s a change that will fall hardest on those with drug convictions.