Politics

Criminal pardon fees should quadruple: Toews

The federal government has proposed quadrupling the fees for pardon applications to make criminals pay for administrative costs.

Parole board raised concerns new law stretches resources

Canada's Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says the government wants criminals to pay for the administrative costs of processing pardon applications. ((Chris Wattie/Reuters))
The federal government has proposed quadrupling the fees for pardon applications to make criminals pay for administrative costs.

If approved, the cost of applying for a pardon would rise to $631, up from the current $150  fee, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Tuesday.

The minister said the proposed increase is a necessary adjustment that responds to inflation, workload increases and processing costs.

"We believe that ordinary Canadians shouldn't have to be footing the bill for a criminal asking for a pardon," Toews told reporters on Wednesday in Ottawa.

"People aren't entitled to pardons; that's something society decides."

 

People aren't entitled to pardons; that's something society decides.

In response, Liberal public safety critic Mark Holland said the increase would put a wall up for those convicted of minor, non-violent offences who can't afford to pay the fees to clear their records and get on with the rest of their lives.

Toews said he has asked the Parole Board of Canada to begin consultations on the proposed increase within the next few weeks.

The consultations are required under the User Fees Act, which sets out fee and service-change requirements for federal departments.

The move comes after the parole board told the government it would need more staff, training and funds because a recently passed law requiring it to assess the behaviour of pardon applicants to ensure granting one would not "bring the administration of justice into disrepute."

The law was rushed through Parliament last June in reaction to revelations by The Canadian Press that former coach and convicted sex offender Graham James had been quietly pardoned for sex convictions involving three young hockey players.

With files from The Canadian Press

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