Although the House of Commons is not sitting until Monday, March 18 much attention remains focused on Parliament Hill as the Justice Committee is meeting this week and hearing more details on the growing fallout of allegations of political interference coming from the highest levels of the Trudeau Liberal government.
This ongoing situation also recently saw the former Liberal President of the Treasury Board, Jane Philpott, announcing her resignation from Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet referencing a loss of confidence in how the government has handled the situation with SNC Lavalin.
My intent in this week’s report is not to further discuss the ongoing SNC Lavalin details but rather another recent Government policy announcement that was announced but largely overlooked as a result of the SNC-Lavalin situation occurring in Ottawa.
Last week the federal government announced marijuana pardon legislation for those individuals who have a previous conviction for the simple possession of cannabis.
The Liberal Government describes Bill C-93 as “An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis.”
The Liberals have stated they would like to see the law passed by the summer of 2019.
The stated goal of the bill is to break down barriers for those individuals with a criminal record related to cannabis possession now that legalization has occurred.
Currently there is a $631 fee for a pardon along with a waiting period that are both proposed to be waived under this bill.
Estimates from Ottawa indicate this bill could apply to as many as 400,000 Canadians although it is unknown how many will actually apply.
Total costs for this bill with the processing of pardons could be in excess of $300 million.
It should also be noted that a pardon is not the same thing as an expungement that formally removes all records related to the office in question.
This is an important distinction because there can be situations when a pardon is not recognized at the border of another country resulting in a refusal of entry.
My concern with this bill is one of cost and fairness.
While I support the principal of issuing a pardon, I do not believe it is fair that Canadians without criminal records are paying for a program requires no financial contribution from those who will access this program.
My question this week asks the same question.
Do you support Bill C-93 being fully funded by taxpayers?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.