Mr. Speaker, the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, or RPM, also known as clemency, is the discretionary power of the Crown to grant pardons, remit sentences, and exercise other forms of clemency. Clemency can be exercised either by the Governor in Council under sections 748 and 748.1 of the Criminal Code, or by the Governor General under the Letters Patent, which is the document that bestows power to the Governor General. In practice, the granting of an act of clemency by the Governor in Council or by the Governor General will occur only after receiving the advice of a Minister of the Crown. In most cases, it is the Minister of Public Safety who makes the recommendation.
As outlined in the Order in Council 2023-0524, the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety, ordered the remission of all outstanding fines and a conditional pardon to the person named in Schedule A. A conditional pardon can be ordered prior to eligibility, or due to ineligibility, under the Criminal Records Act, or prior to eligibility under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, or CCRA. There are criteria that must be met in order for a conditional pardon to be granted, including the aforementioned evidence of substantial injustice or undue hardship.
In the case of clemency pardons under the RPM, there is no framework for disclosure because the over-riding principle and convention has been to guard the privacy of the individual in receipt of clemency, other than the notification in the Canada Gazette concerning the fact of the pardon or remission of fines.
As such, the request to disclose the name listed in Schedule A and offences including convictions listed in Schedule B for Order in Council 2023-0524, cannot be fulfilled.
Clemency is granted in exceptional circumstances in deserving cases involving federal offences, where no other remedy exists in law to reduce severe negative effects of criminal sanctions. Clemency can be requested for numerous reasons, including employment, perceived inequity, medical conditions, immigration to Canada, compassion and financial hardship.
The Parole Board of Canada, or PBC, reviews applications, conducts investigations at the direction of the Minister of Public Safety, and makes recommendations to the Minister regarding whether to grant the clemency request.
There are several guiding principles regarding the exercise of clemency which are assessed and reviewed by the PBC in accordance with section 110 of the CCRA: there is evidence of substantial injustice or undue hardship that exceed the normal consequences of a conviction and sentence; the application is examined on its own merit, taking into consideration the circumstances solely of the applicant; the applicant has exhausted all other avenues available under the Criminal Code or other pertinent legislation; the independence of the judiciary shall be respected; and the RPM does not result in an increased penalty.