October 16th, 2018
Jagmeet Singh Calls for Deletion of Cannabis Records on Eve of Legalization
OTTAWA – In a video posted online, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls on the Liberal government to immediately delete the criminal records held by thousands of Canadians for the simple possession of cannabis, the day before such activity becomes legal.
“For some people in Canada, and in some places, pot has been effectively legal for years,” said Singh. “But depending on who you are, the colour of your skin, and where you live, there’s a different set of rules.” Singh points to higher rates of cannabis charges for Indigenous People, Black Canadians and other racialized communities even though the relative rate of usage is the same across demographics.
Criminal records for minor non-violent cannabis possession can have real effects on Canadians years after the conviction. These records can make it difficult to find housing, prevent Canadians from crossing the border, severely limit job opportunities, and sometimes even prevent people from volunteering in their community.
“We have parents disqualified from coaching their kid’s soccer team because of a minor, non-violent conviction for an activity which will be perfectly legal tomorrow,” added Singh. “If we’re serious about ending the discriminative approach to cannabis then we must be willing to delete these records once and for all.”
Singh distinguishes his approach from the pardon system, which costs over $600 per application and can force Canadians to wait years to apply, and then if successful will only suspend the record rather than completely delete it. Earlier this month, the NDP’s Justice Critic, Murray Rankin tabled a bill to expunge these records.