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Canadians who have completed their sentences after having been convicted of a criminal offense can apply for a pardon; the Governor General can also grant clemency if there is new evidence of innocence or other reason to remove records or sentences.
The Canadian pardons process outlined in the Criminal Records Act is facing proposed amendments which will bring about substantial changes. Bill C-23, titled "Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act" will do just that if and when it passes. The bill will disallow pardons after three indictable offenses or for those convicted of certain sexual crimes. It will also extend the waiting period for all record suspensions.
People who have criminal records are given a second chance in society by applying for a pardon so they can be recognized as having shown good behavior after serving their sentences, completing any probationary period, and paying all outstanding fines.
In Canada the Canadian Human Rights Act assures that a person cannot be discriminated against based on a pardoned conviction. The pardoned person is guaranteed that no basic services can be denied. The person also has the right to work for a federal agency or the Armed Forces. As expected there are some common-sense safety measures, such as maintaining a prohibition against possession of firearms if the offence involved guns.
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