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Legislation for cannabis possession pardons clears Senate with 2 other bills

3 more Government bills in line for Royal Assent after final Senate approval.

Bills to expedite pardons for simple cannabis possession, update Canada’s access-to-information laws and respond to Indigenous concerns in relation to resource management in the Mackenzie Valley are set to be law after receiving final approval in the Senate on Wednesday.

Bill C-93 allows those who have been convicted of simple cannabis possession to apply for an expedited, no fee record suspension. The passage of this legislation follows the adoption of the Cannabis Act last year, which legalized and regulated cannabis in Canada.

Bill C-58 enhances openness and transparency with major updates to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Among other changes, it legislates the proactive disclosure of information from government departments and agencies, the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministers’ offices, and institutions that support Parliament, MPs and Senators. It also strengthens the role of the Information Commissioner, and ensures the access-to-information regime will be subject to greater review in future.

The Government accepted 16 Senate amendments to Bill C-58, including:

  • Eliminating the Government’s authority to set and collect fees, apart from the $5 application fee;
  • Retaining Info Source, a tool that allows Canadians to better understand what information is being collected by Government;
  • Limiting the Government’s power to ask the Information Commissioner to refuse requests to cases that are vexatious, made in bad faith or constitute an abuse that would backlog the system;
  • Requiring the proactive publication of individual judges expenses in an aggregate form;
  • Reducing barriers for Indigenous peoples to access information, sometimes decades old, in relation to claims seeking justice for past wrongs; and
  • Strengthening requirements for the review of the legislation, which must begin one year after it receives Royal Assent.

Bill C-88 repeal parts of legislation passed in 2014 in response to a Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories decision that found changes to the regulatory regime violated the rights of Indigenous governments. The legislation restores in law four land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley, fostering reconciliation honouring the terms of key land claim and self-government agreements.

The bill also legislates a 2016 Canada-US agreement with respect to oil and gas rights in the Arctic offshore.

The three bills are now in line for Royal Assent.

Legislation for cannabis possession pardons clears Senate with 2 other bills