How much for a pardon? -

How much for a pardon?


The government’s proposal to quadruple the fee on pardon applications is met with resistance.

As required under the federal User Fees Act, the Parole Board of Canada — the body that vets pardon applications — held a February consultation to gather feedback on the proposal. In response, 1,074 individuals and organizations said they did not agree with the proposed fee increase, while 12 were supportive, says a summary report by the parole board…

The report says people opposed to the fee increase most often said it would: pose a financial burden for applicants, with many unable to pay the increased fee; make it difficult or impossible for people to apply for a pardon who need one to help them obtain employment or pursue their education; and amount to further punishment to that already imposed by the court. “Some also indicated that they thought the proposed fee increase was politically driven.”


How much for a pardon?

  1. The score is 1,074-12  with just a  few minuets left in the game.


    • That made me laugh. :)

  2. Let me get this straight.

    People who are convicted of a criminal offense are upset that they need to pay more to get a pardon? That 98% of the respondents were against this doesn’t surprise me, and I would guess that there was some support generated by the people who stand to lose if it passes.

    While Aaron did post the link, he left out one very important part of the story:

    “The government wants to hike the cost of seeking a pardon to $631 from
    the current $150, saying taxpayers should not have to subsidize the

    Could I ask the question in reverse. Should we, as taxpayers, pay $481 so that someone can apply for a pardon? I would guess that if this question were put to the Canadian public, there would not be 98% support for paying it.

    Just here to spout my nonsense.

    • The goal here is help people re-habilitate themselves.  Would you prefer they unable to become productive citizens because of a few hundred dollars.  This is the equivalent to one month’s welfare.  

      • If they are on welfare, this is probably another perk that is included. There are a few things that welfare recipients can get, over and above the monthly amount. If it is just welfare people, then why have the fee at all? Why not make it free?
        And please don’t insult us with a view that all pardons are being sought by welfare recipients. A lot of these people want the pardon to be able to travel – are welfare recipients going to Europe a lot?

        All I am saying is that it should be revenue neutral. If costs $400 – charge $400. If it costs $800 – charge $800.

      • Yes, we would not want Karla Homolka to have to work to save up for her pardon-application money.

        • Ahh yes, the anecdote that works against the vast majority of applicants. By such examples, the fee should be increased to $1.5-million… at least.

        • Wow.  Now I see why this is a throw-away issue for the Conservatives.  Every ex-con is equivalent to Karla Homolka.

      • Sure, and to show you have become a productive citizen, you have 600 bucks (not a big ask)

    • Oh please. We’re paying substantially more than that to members of the PM’s chosen base all the time. Like the many many public dollars sent to Canadian farmers every year, despite their being one of the wealthiest demographics in the country. Funny that… I don’t recall being asked about that. 

      • I don’t quite see the correlation, but I would be against that as well.

        Although they are not criminals.

        • lol

          They are not all criminals.

          There I fixed it.

          • Did you just say that the farmers receiving compensation for lost crops are criminals?

          • That’s what I though he said. I asked for clarification, but didn’t get it.

          • We are talking farmers, right?

      • And another thing. I really dislike the idea that this waste of money is okay because we waste way more over here. That is what got us into this mess in the first place.

        By the way, you comment about the PM’s chosen base, and allude to farmers that he is giving subsidies to. Please tell me how many subsidies for farmers were introduced by the current CPC gov’t.

        • What about “it’s okay that our guys act like arseholes because the Liberals were bigger arseholes”? That argument shows up here pretty much daily.

          • Actually I am against that as well. I think everything should be decided on a cost/benefit analysis.

          • It is not a contest of which party has the most arseholes in it but rather a reminder that the policies that you appear to be outraged about now existed prior to this conservative government and in fact were introduced by a liberal government.   As they are “liberal” policies and you are a supporter of such policies, why are you outraged?  You think criminals deserve taxpayer money but farmers don’t?

    • Compromise: charge the $631 for a pardon, and waive the fee if the application is successful.

      Keep in mind that $481 is the cost to incarcerate someone for a week. So, a pretty high ROI from that perspective.

      • I guess. I just don’t see that we should do this as a benefit, or see it as a responsibility of ours, as taxpayers, to cover.

        We could just as easily say that we can save money and have them back in society by just releasing them without any jail time (if they were given time). Sometimes people need to take responsibility for their actions.

        • And sometimes people need to ask what kind of society gives pardons only to people who can afford them.  

          • We have been forever. It is going from $150 to $600 and change. It was never free.

            Basically, I think that every person should pay a user fee for using a service such as this. You think that is should be free. I guess that is how we differ.

          • Actually it was free up until the late 90s.

            In fact I’d argue it still should be free if we’re being honest about its purpose and use to society.

            Setting up administrative barriers, besides being cruel for no reason, runs counter to the point of the pardon in the first place, ie to allow for people to be useful members of society.

            If we’re going to use a justice system that presumes to set arbitrary time limits on incarceration, then we need to abide those laws.

            Personally I don’t think our justice system is very enlightened, but that’s another thing entirely.

          • @Phil_King:disqus
            Thanks for the correction.

            I am quite sure that a criminal has to wait 3-10 years after all sentencing has been completed, before even applying for a pardon. They can save the amount during that time.

            They can work, they do need to let the employer know at the beginning. As well, pardons are usually not available to people who commit very serious offenses, or someone who has multiple charges.

            As I said above, we can agree to disagree. You seem to think that it is in some way cruel and that requiring someone who is convicted of committing a crime not burden the taxpayers more (the court cost are enough), in order for them to receive a pardon.

            Heck, there are some people who think the pardon is wrong. A criminal record is just that – a record of what happened. If anything, we should provide (at cost) a small ID piece that lists the crime, and the date of offense. The farther the person is away from that date, the more ‘rehabilitated’ they are. We could argue that by allowing someone to ‘hide’ their record, we are denying the general public the information they require to protect themselves and their interests.

      • That means people like Graham James would have gotten their pardon for free…talk about adding insult to injury.

  3. Legalize pot…that would eliminate most of the requests.

    • Can’t say that I would argue that.

    • Except for Graham James and his ilk.

      • So, making him pay a little more would change anything?

        • Actually, yes it would. It would mean that we didn’t subsidize his application. That would mean a lot.

          • Don’t be so damned daft

          • ???

        • I’ve got a better idea, don’t give him a pardon. Period.

  4. Sadly this is just the beginning of all the cries of “you can’t do this, it’s unjust, or unfair or will cost the user of the service too much (read something)” that will echo every attempt to reign in the deficit. Said deficit having been demanded by the same people who are opposed to any measures taken to achieve fiscal balance. The self same people who decried the spending in the first place saying , “you put us into deficit!”  for christ sake make up your mind. The progressive mind, never mind the expense just keep giving me what I want until, until, until…. Tax the rich! (more).

    • Ahem…we didn’t have a deficit until Harp showed up. We had a surplus.

      Harper blew it.

      Don’t blame others for the mess your boy made on the floor.

    • I have absolutely no problem with raising the fee on pardon applications.  Where I do raise my eyebrows is a quadrupling of the fee from one day to the next.  Yes, one can certainly say that the fee should have risen as the costs rose, such that it was always revenue neutral.  I would just like to suggest a staggered increase, perhaps an additional $150 every six months until we reach the costs–while at the same time, of course (I so wish it went without saying) striving to keep the costs as low as humanly possible.  And also some kind of payment plan such that a person could get the pardon to get the job, and pay for it over time as the paycheques come in.

      Actually, I think I have a problem with “a pardon”–the words themselves.  How about something more reflective of the situation in most cases, more like a “conviction fulfilled” or “justice served.”  A pardon, to my mind, should be reserved for those special cases where there was a miscarriage of justice in the first place, or where the person has turned their life around and has voluntarily contributed more back to society, after serving their sentence, than the initial crime ever took.  Like paying back double the stolen money, or volunteering with organizations to prevent others from making the initial mistake–that sort of thing.

      • I like the second paragraph – well thought out.

        As to the ‘slow raising’ of the amount, that really doesn’t make much sense. It is not like it is the same people getting the pardon year after year. No matter how it is increased, it will eventually get to the amount where it is revenue neutral. If is takes on day, or two years, it is not affecting the same person twice.
        As to the ‘loan’ to people to get the pardon, I would submit you are now ‘creating’ another level of bureaucracy. There will now need people to track it, etc. I think it is a non-starter. How many would pay it back?

        Let me paint you a scenario. It is the middle of winter, right after a big snowfall. Someone shows up at your door. They tell you that they are getting their life together, and need to earn enough to apply for a pardon. They offer to shovel your walk and driveway, and you can pay them what if fair when done. How much do you give them? How long until they hit $700? Just saying.. . .

        • I was thinking more of the guy whose two year less a day sentence started a year ago.  He can’t go back and change history, and he can’t speed up the sentence, but the sentence just got more onerous–even, presumably in my scenario, while he was being the ideal inmate.  He still has some time to amend his plan for how to get the money for the pardon, and if it doubles, it is still doable for him.  But the guy whose (same) sentence started one year, three hundred and sixty days ago would be really, really punished by this quadrupling.  Yeah, I get punishing a criminal being a bad thing NOT, but he didn’t do anything more deserving of punishment than the guy whose sentence started two years and one day ago.

          I take your point about the new level of bureaucracy, and it is a good point, but if we don’t let our criminals get a job to become former criminals, we pretty much guarantee they remain criminals. I’m open to other suggestions on how to do it.

          • I understand you point about different criminals paying different amounts, but I think it is moot. Someone can correct me if I am wrong, but I think they have to wait 3 -10 years after the sentence is completed before they can even apply. This would lead me to believe  that the idea that people who have criminal records cannot have a life, or get a job, is erroneous.

            They might be able to save the money in 5 years . . . ?

  5. No matter how some people may “feel”, prisons aren’t about revenge, they’re about protection of society through segregation and the subsequent managment of recidivism. What we want ideally is prisoners who become productive members of society upon release.

    So why we would want to establish arbitrary barriers to this is beyond me. Cutting off our noses to spite our face? To what end? It is in the interests of society as a whole to help ensure that those who have served their sentences have the means and impetus to strike a legitimate path upon release.

    And yet we seem to go out of our way to undermine this process at every step.

    In terms of the arguments I’ve seen offered here and elsewhere, support for these fees is irrational and emotionally driven and therefore an inappropriate means of evaluation of the need for these fees.

    Logically these fees are counter-productive to society’s best interests.

  6. I wonder if this increase will also apply to people who request the destruction of their file?  File destruction is a service provided by Pardons Canada, on request, that destroys the file after a person has been charged with a crime but subsequently found not guilty by the court.  Seems to me that such a service should be gratis or paid for by the court that brought the charges in the first place, and also should be automatically triggered.

  7. There seems to be a complete ignorance here about how pardons work. It’s
    not like in the movies where some dude on death row is looking for a
    pardon. Nor is it an easy thing to get… it’s not like you just go down
    to the Pardon office, hand them a cheque, then poof! Pardoned. It’s a
    bit more involved and takes quite a bit of time (you can’t even apply
    unless you have been out of jail for several years with absolutely no
    further incidents.) So perhaps before wading into this discussion with
    no facts or understanding of the topic, maybe people could use the
    Google and do some research. Here’s a decent place to start:

    There should be a debate on this, but shouting ill-informed opinions and
    various CPC talking points (official and non) us not going to help.

  8. @modster99:disqus My main concern regarding the pardon system using fees is how this affects its stated purpose.

    It seems obvious to me that excessive fees reduce its effectiveness, namely the full reintegration of individuals deemed (through society’s own preset criteria) to be worthy of a clean slate.

    What I’ve seen in terms of opposition can only be classified as emotional arguments, ie the dislike of certain individuals based solely on an emotional reaction to a label or categorization rather than on anything related to the individual’s actual merits or the conditions by which they were first censured.

    To forgive all without consideration is foolhardy, but to assume that none deserve such forgiveness runs completely contrary to any of the stated ideals of our society past and present, religious or secular.

    Some deserve a clean slate, and while it may be argued that some sort of fee is reasonable, when those fees themselves begin to represent an arbitrary barrier outside of the preset criteria, then we’ve begun to be punative for its own sake.

    Should one of the preset criteria to obtaining a pardon be affluence?