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'Finish the job': NDP urges Liberals to expunge cannabis records before election

Last Updated Mar 15, 2019 at 9:24 am PDT

NDP MP Murray Rankin stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. NDP justice critic Rankin is urging the Liberal government to work with him to improve a bill and ensure it is passed before the election to help Canadians carrying burdensome cannabis records. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — The NDP justice critic is urging the Liberal government to help him improve a bill to help Canadians carrying burdensome cannabis records and ensure the legislation passes before the fall election.

Murray Rankin put forward a private member’s bill last year to expunge cannabis records, to ensure past records for simple possession are wiped outright.

He says the Trudeau government’s current approach to suspend records rather than expunge them is far from enough to help an estimated 500,000 Canadians carrying past offences.

Earlier this month, the federal government introduced legislation designed to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions, formerly referred to as pardons, for simple cannabis possession.

Rankin says he has spoken with Liberals and Conservatives who have shown an interest in allowing for expungments, noting U.S. jurisdictions where cannabis is legal are also moving forward with this approach.

A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the government welcomes “constructive ideas” from any MP to improve legislation and will consider proposals during the normal parliamentary process.