‘Capital Punishment in Canada’

“Capital punishment existed in various forms in Canada until 1998, when the federal government completely abolished the death penalty… 

“Before 1859, Canada (then British North America) operated under British law. Some 230 offences, including stealing turnips and being found disguised in a forest {!?!}, were punishable by death.

“By 1865, only murder, treason and rape were still considered capital offences… 

“In 1967, a government bill to apply mandatory life imprisonment in all murder cases, except when the victim was an on-duty police officer or prison guard, was passed by a House of Commons vote of 105 to 70 for a five-year trial period. This legislation was again sustained in 1973, supported by a 13-vote majority.

“In 1962, Ronald Turpin and Arthur Lucas were the last prisoners to be executed in Canada.

“In 1976, the Commons abolished hanging by a majority of six votes. Capital punishment remained lawful only under the National Defence Act, which permitted the death penalty for members of the Armed Forces found guilty of cowardice, desertion, unlawful surrender, or spying for the enemy.

“In 1998, Canada eliminated the death penalty for military members, thus becoming a fully abolitionist country when it comes to state executions.”

–‘Capital Punishment’



2016: ‘Canadians Are As Likely As Americans To Support Death Penalty: Poll
2013: ‘Majority of Canadians support the death penalty: poll

Three-in-Five Canadians Would Bring Back Death Penalty

“A public opinion poll conducted in 2013 found that 63% of Canadians supported reinstating the death penalty for murder, while 30% opposed it. Support was highest in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (75%) and lowest in Québec (where 36% of respondents opposed reinstatement).

“Despite the apparent support, as of 2016 no major Canadian political party was advocating bringing back the death penalty.”
2012: ‘Majority of Canadians support return of death penalty, poll finds
2011: ‘A Majority of Canadians Support the Death Penalty
“…One public opinion survey indicated that 73% of Canadians supported the reintroduction of the death penalty in 1987, while another poll the same year indicated 61%. In 1995, a study found that 69% of Canadians moderately or strongly supported the return of the death penalty

“In a more recent poll, Angus Reid conducted an online survey of 1,002 Canadians in 2012; the results found 63% believed that capital punishment is sometimes appropriate, 23% believed capital punishment is never warranted, and 8% believed it is always appropriate.”

Arthur Lucas, left, and Ronald Turpin were the last two people executed in Canada.

1998: “Support for the death penalty has varied over the past 20 years, when Gallup first asked about it in their National Poll. Results of the 1998 poll indicate that if a national referendum were held on the question of executing an offender convicted of murder, 61% of Canadians would vote for reinstatement of the death penalty (Table 19). The current level of support is similar to the rate from the late 1980s and early 1990s when support was in the range of 59% in 1994 to 61% in 1987. This rate has been climbing since 1996, when support reached an all-time low of 55%. The highest levels of support occurred in 1984, when it reached 71%.

“Question: If a national referendum were held today on the question of executing a person for murder, would you vote for reinstating the death penalty in Canada or would you vote against reinstating it?

“Table 19: Support for reinstatement of the death penalty
Year For-Against-Undecided
1998  61% 35% 4%
1997  63    30    6
1996  55    36    9
1994  59    32    9
1990  60    33    7
1987  61     28   11
1986  68    20  12
1985  68    22  10
1984  71     21    8
1982  70    19   11
1978  68   20   11
Source: Gallup, 1998.

“‘Gallup’ asked respondents if their views would change, given hypothetical evidence that capital punishment did not act as a deterrent to murder. Of those who currently favour the death penalty, 75% would continue to hold that opinion, suggesting to the authors of the study that those who favour the death penalty hold such beliefs that it is a just punishment for murder.

“When those who oppose capital punishment were presented with hypothetical information that capital punishment did act as a deterrent for murder, 76% retained their original position. The authors infer from this result that those who hold this view do so because they support a “sanctity of life” line of reasoning.”

–‘Public Perception of Crime and Justice in Canada: A Review of Opinion Polls’


From the U.S.:
“Abolitionists also hold the notion that criminals do not fear death because they do not take time to think about the consequences of their acts. If that were true, then I wonder how police officers manage to arrest criminals without killing them. When a policeman holds a criminal at gunpoint and tells him to get on the ground, the criminal will comply fully in the vast majority of of these cases. Why would they do that unless they were afraid of the lethal power of the gun? It is because regardless of what abolitionists claim, criminals are not immune to fear! It is a common misconception to believe that fear is a thought process that has to be worked out with a piece of paper. It’s not! It is an instinct that automatically kicks in when one is faced with lethal force! The examples below should confirm that point.

“During the temporary suspension on capital punishment from 1972-1976, researchers gathered murder statistics across the country. In 1960, there were 56 executions in the USA and 9,140 murders. By 1964, when there were only 15 executions, the number of murders had risen to 9,250. In 1969, there were no executions and 14,590 murders, and 1975, after six more years without executions, 20,510 murders occurred rising to 23,040 in 1980 after only two executions since 1976. In summary, between 1965 and 1980, the number of annual murders in the United States skyrocketed from 9,960 to 23,040, a 131% increase. The murder rate — homicides per 100,000 persons — doubled from 5.1 to 10.2. So the number of murders grew as the number of executions shrank. Researcher Karl Spence of Texas A&M University said:

   “While some [death penalty] abolitionists try to face down the results of their disastrous experiment and still argue to the contrary, the…[data] concludes that a substantial deterrent effect has been observed…In six months, more Americans are murdered than have killed by execution in this entire century…Until we begin to fight crime in earnest [by using the death penalty], every person who dies at a criminal’s hands is a victim of our inaction.”

“Notes Dudley Sharp of the criminal-justice reform group ‘Justice For All’:

   “From 1995 to 2000,” “executions averaged 71 per year, a 21,000% increase over the 1966-1980 period. The murder rate dropped from a high of 10.2 (per 100,000) in 1980 to 5.7 in 1999 — a 44% reduction. The murder rate is now at its lowest level since 1966.”

“The most striking protection of innocent life has been seen in Texas, which executes more murderers than any other state. According to JFA (‘Justice for All’), the Texas murder rate in 1991 was 15.3 per 100,000. By 1999, it had fallen to 6.1 — a drop of 60%. Within Texas, the most aggressive death penalty prosecutions are in Harris County (the Houston area). Since the resumption of executions in 1982, the annual number of Harris County murders has plummeted from 701 to 241 — a 72% decrease…

“More recently, a series of academic studies within the last six years show that the death penalty does indeed act as a deterrent to murder. These analysts count that between three and 18 lives would be saved by the execution of each convicted murderer. Naci Mocan, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, co-authored a 2003 study and re-examined a 2006 study that found that each execution results in five fewer homicides, and commuting a death sentence means five more homicides. In an interview, he states:

   “Science does really draw a conclusion…There is no question about it. The conclusion is, there is a deterrent effect. The results are robust. They don’t really go away. I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty (deters), what am I going to do, hide them?

“These studies are among a dozen papers since 2001 that the death penalty has a deterrent effect.They all look at executions and homicides by year and by state or county in order to figure out the impact of the death penalty on homicides by accounting for other factors, such as unemployment data and per capita income, the probabilities of arrest and conviction and more. Among these conclusions:

“Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five, and 14).

“The Illinois moratorium on exectuions in 2000 led to 150 additional homicides over four years following, according to a 2006 study by professors at the University of Houston.

“Speeding up executions would strengthen the deterrent effect. For every 2.75 years cut from time spent on death row, one murder would be prevented, according to a 2004 study by an Emory University professor.

“The authors of these deterrent reports welcome criticism in the interests of science. However, their work is being attacked by opponents of capital punishment for their findings, not their flaws.

A more detailed analysis can be found in a composition by Dudly Sharp entitled:
“The Death Penalty IS a Deterrent!”





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