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Challenge to hinge on pardon waiting period

An increase in waiting periods to apply for a pardon of a criminal conviction that was enacted by the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper is facing a court challenge on the grounds that the changes violate the Charter of Rights.

An Ontario Superior Court judge in Ottawa will hear an application Nov. 7 by two men who are arguing that the current provisions, which also applied retroactively after they were implemented in 2012, constitute “punishment” and breach sections 11(h) and 11(i) of the Charter.

“The applicants are entitled to the benefit of the lesser punishment — that is, the punishment that was in place when the offences were committed,” state lawyers Michael Spratt and Michael Lacy in written arguments on behalf of their clients filed in Superior Court. Individuals who must disclose past criminal convictions have a more difficult time finding employment and even housing, they state.


The constitutional challenge is focused on the increases in the waiting periods. In response, the federal government says the existing rules “address pressing and substantial objectives” to public safety. The written arguments filed in Superior Court suggest there was an imbalance in the previous rules and that the changes made by the Conservatives were necessary. Public Safety Canada did not respond to requests for comment.

Read Shannon Kari’s full article: Law Times

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