At last report, Bill C-23B, the proposed law which was set to rename pardons into record suspensions and impose tougher rules on applying for them and on who is eligible to get them, had passed second reading in the House of Commons and was waiting to be considered by a parliamentary committee. Since that time, the political scene in Canada has been shaken up with an early election call. The election is set for 2 May and the different parties are already busy with their campaigns.
Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is hoping for re-election so that he can continue passing legislation in the same vein as that which his government has succeeded in adopting so far. According to an article published in the Toronto Star yesterday, the party plans to formally launch its platform today, but in the past two weeks, Harper has already spoken publicly about the changes his party plans to make if re-elected, which will be laid out in more detail today. Among his promises is that if he is re-elected, all outstanding crime-related bills that have not yet been passed, including Bill C-23B, will be combined into one blanket bill and will be passed within 100 days of re-election.
The election campaign is still young and we cannot be certain of its outcome. The main forerunners are Harper and his Liberal opponent, Michael Ignatieff, who does not agree with all of the conservatives’ measures regarding criminal justice. It could be a tight race, and Canadians need to be prepared for any outcome. A poll released two weeks ago suggests that 43% of Canadians support the Conservative party; if this still holds true come the day of the election, Harper could win a majority government. Should this happen, the Conservatives will take over most of the seats of the House of Commons, and the passage of criminal pardons reform will be a foregone conclusion. All the more reason to apply for a pardon now, before it becomes much harder to get.