Consider making some criminal pardons automatic, MPs recommend

Ralph Goodale

A panel of MPs wants the federal government to look at making criminal pardons automatic for some offenders who have served their sentences.

The House of Commons public safety committee also suggests lowering the $631 fee for a pardon and simplifying the often complex process for applicants.

A criminal record can hinder a person's ability to get a job, find housing, go to school or travel, committee members say in a report tabled without fanfare just before the parliamentary holiday break.

Wayne Long, the New Brunswick Liberal MP whose motion prompted the review, says that sometimes, often early in life, mistakes lead to criminal records.

He says for many Canadians, especially those in low-income situations, the criminal justice system often fails to provide a second chance.

The government, however, has already taken a step toward streamlining the process for certain offenders.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale promised in October it would soon be quicker to obtain a pardon for a previous conviction of simple marijuana possession, now that recreational pot use is legal.

Coming legislation will waive the waiting period and fee for those seeking a pardon for possession offences.