Many countries have different forms of governments: some have democracies, others have dictators and many seem to be variations of the two types. However, they all have one thing in common; making decisions for the people they serve. Sometimes those people get a say in what their government decides, but most often it seems like the government will ask the public's opinions, and then do what they had already decided to do. One good example of this is the Canadian government's current and past decisions about pardons in Canada.

The pardon system in Canada used to be very basic:

  1. You break the law.
  2. You get apprehended, charged and sentenced and finish serving your sentence.
  3. You pay all of your outstanding fines.
  4. You complete your parole.
  5. You wait the set amount of time after finishing all of the above (3 – 5 years)
  6. You apply for a pardon from the Parole Board of Canada.

In July, 2010 however, the government passed new legislation (Bill C-23A) concerning pardons, and now the system is much more complicated. Many, many people in Canada voiced their opinions on the change. Some were all for it, while others were dead set against the legislation. Both parties made sure that the government heard what they had to say on the issues that were heavily debated in Parliament. Bill C-23A was passed regardless of what the public's opinions were, and now Bill C-23B, the even more controversial second half of C-23A will soon be read a third time in the House of Commons and will be on its way to being made law as well – without concern over what the public has to day about it.

Pardons in Canada have already changed quite a bit. Do we really want any more changes to this system? The pardons process has been working very well in the past 40 years, since it was started in 1970. It has contributed to society through making it possible for people to start over in life, giving them an opportunity to go to school, get a job and find a place to live – things that are not easy to do without a pardon.

Bill C-23B's proposed changes will make it very hard for most people with criminal records to get pardons in Canada, and many people in this country are afraid that this will cause the crime rate to increase. After all, without a job, a good place to live and an opportunity to go to school, many of us would feel hopeless. If someone has already committed one, two or three crimes, it would be a lot easier to continue with a life of crime than to trudge through year after year without a hope of ever breaking even.

Canadians need to speak out about Bill C-23B – before it is passed. The Minister of Public Safety, Vic Toews, has said that he would consider amending the bill, but that was months ago and he has been silent about it since then. Speak out – let your local MP know how you feel. Maybe we can make our government listen this time.