Tony Clement says he supports pardons on a case-by-case basis.

That’s the Parry Sound-Muskoka MP’s reaction to the federal government announcing it will “fast-track” applications for Canadians who have past convictions for simple marijuana possession.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced today that coming legislation will let people who have served their sentences skip the $631 pardon application fee and the at least three-year waiting period.

“Once the bill is tabled we’ll review it of course,” Clement told the My Muskoka Now Newsroom.

“I think certainly on a case-by-case basis a pardon would be appropriate, but in other cases, it’s not going to be appropriate.  It’s probably appropriate if an 18-year-old had simple possession charges, but frontline police officers tell us that sometimes the only thing they can nab the bad guys on is a possession charge, even though they were committing far worse crimes than that.  So, in those cases, I don’t think it would be appropriate to pardon.”

Clement said allowing applicants to skip the fee is going to be a cost to the government, but that “the big thing is public safety.”

“Making sure that people who are bad people who do have a prior conviction on possession, those are the people you don’t want to pardon. That’s my biggest concern.”

Clement added he’s okay with the government fast-tracking the applications as long as that means it will be getting the easy cases out of the way quickly, but not if it means not looking at the cases individually and making sure a pardon is appropriate. Although a pardon doesn’t get rid of a conviction, it does take a person’s criminal record out of the Canadian Police Information Centre computer system.

Up until today, which marks legalization of recreational cannabis use in Canada, the Liberal government wasn’t entertaining talk of pardons for past convictions. On Parliament Hill today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters it would have been “irresponsible” to discuss pardons while the old laws were in place.