SHOULD CANADA RESTORE CAPITAL PUNISHMENT?

I thought Canada had put capital punishment behind us by a parliamentary vote in 1976.

Apparently not.  A new poll, just out, reveals that 61 per cent of Canadians support reinstating capital punishment.  Thirty-four per cent are opposed.  The poll found opponents of the death penalty were mostly in Quebec (45 per cent),  another sign of the enlightenment of this province.

That a solid majority of Canadians would want to bring back the rope after an absence of nearly 35 years is mind-boggling.  Are we that savage a nation?  Capital punishment is an act of barbarity perpetrated in cold blood by the civil arm.

I would consider bringing capital punishment back with one condition.  All executions must be open to the public in large venues like the Roger Stadium in Toronto or the Olympic stadium in Montreal.

Then we could see with our own eyes what our savagery had wrought.

Can you see any reason why a majority of Canadians would want to bring back the rope?

Should Canada restore capital punishment?

What do you think?

44 Comments »

  1. 1
    Cate McB Says:

    No, we should not bring back capital punishment in any form. Why? Because there’s too much potential for the wrong person to be executed.

    Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting Susan Nelles Pine, the nurse who was arrested 30 yrs ago and accused of first degree murder for the “killing” of x number of babies by digoxin at the Hosp. for Sick Children. Thankfully (in some ways), she never got a trial because the preliminary hearing decided there was not enough evidence to have a trial. This example and many others convinced me long ago that too many mistakes are made, and capital punishment just makes it far worse!

    In Nelles’ case, there is now plenty of evidence to suggest that the latex rubber in the syringes used at that time also contained digoxin in sufficient amounts that they could influence blood samples.

  2. 2

    ” All executions must be open to the public in large venues like the Roger Stadium in Toronto or the Olympic stadium in Montreal.”
    Making it a public display is ridiculous.
    When I hear of heinous crimes, I can’t help but want to reinstate capital punishment… but no.
    Having said that, if anyone hurt my children, they would have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives, because I would eventually exact the worst revenge. So, I really don’t have a forgiving spirit either.
    In the end, maybe it depends on how close to murder and chaos we come…we can all be charitable, sometimes!

  3. 3
    Cate McB Says:

    Its one thing to feel the need for revenge.

    But conducting a system of justice is something else …..

  4. 4

    Neil writes:

    Capital punishment is an act of barbarity perpetrated in cold blood by the civil arm.

    Pray tell, what then must you think of Barack Obama who acted as judge, jury, and executioner for that American citizen who he killed a few months ago in, I think it was, Yemen.

    And don’t tell us that it was in the context of an act of war because no act of war has been declared against that fellow, any organisation that he was associated with, or any country that he was associated with. As an American citizen, he was innocent until proven guilty.

    I would think, Neil, that you would find a home more to your suiting vis a vis presidential candidates in Ron Paul than in the killer Barack Obama. Paul does not support Israel (just like you) and he considered impeachment for the president after he killed that American citizen.

    By the way, if I recall correctly, Brian Mulroney held an open vote on capital punishment during his mandate which was in the late ’80s, early ’90s.

  5. 5

    No,capital punishment should remain in the history books,not in the future. Governments should show leadership , and not pander to people who call up talk shows.

  6. 6

    We should not bring back capital punishment, and for some crimes nothing but incarceration can be used so that the perpetrator has no chance of acting again. However, we still live rather close to the middle ages in our treatment of prisoners, and it’s about time that we spent tax money on rehabilitating people instead of training them to become better criminals.
    However, if we do not believe in capital punishment in our own country, how can we believe in war against others? How can we justify that killing, and praise those soldiers who do it as “heroes”? What is the moral difference?

  7. 7

    No – even when a person confesses to the crime there have been too many cases where they were still innocent.

    Eye witness testimony is VERY unrealiable, confessions have been shown to be coerced… no, there have been far too many innocent people killed by the state to implement a effective capital punishment system.

    @Tony:

    I denounced Obama when he had that citizen killed… it was wrong.

  8. 8
    Cate McB Says:

    Jan asks: “However, if we do not believe in capital punishment in our own country, how can we believe in war against others? How can we justify that killing, and praise those soldiers who do it as “heroes”? What is the moral difference?”

    Good questions and without getting into the complexities of just war theories, a war is justified morally if several conditions are met, for eg., if an armed aggressor based in one country is killing innocent civilians en masse in another sovereign nation (or today — in the aggressor’s own territory as was the case in Libya), if diplomacy has been tried and failed, if the means used to overcome this aggressor are proportionate to those he/she is using, if the decision to go to war is taken by those with the legal/legislative authority to do so, etc.

    Although these conditions are thought to create the moral difference, this is not to say that there are no moral dilemmas even in a “just war”.

  9. 9

    Joe:

    As you say,Obama’s extra-juridical killing was “wrong”。

    It was also murder。

    Tell me:is murder a “high crime” or “misdemeanor” and,if yes,is it an impeachable offense?

  10. 10

    I dunno Tony…

    Amazing that Obama can do such a terrible job as president and still be almost assured a re-election! The GOP really has dropped the ball on this one…

  11. 11

    “All executions must be open to the public in large venues like the Roger Stadium in Toronto or the Olympic stadium in Montreal.”

    Oh, yes! And what a way too boost the economy, selling tickets to such events! I would close the bars, though. As one movie character said, “These men may deserve to hang, but they don’t deserve to die sober while a bunch of drunks stand around and cheer.”

    “Can you see any reason why a majority of Canadians would want to bring back the rope?”

    Yes. I will give you ONE out of hundreds: A gang swarming of an old man who was beaten to death “for fun.” It happened here in Surrey. Know what the swarmers got? Two got house arrest for a year and one served a whole three months behind bars.

    You think that’s savage? I passed savage a long time ago, my friend.

  12. 12

    @Janus:

    Individual cases don’t make for good laws though… I don’t think anybody would deny that Paul Bernardo deserves to die for example.

    The problem is that the justice system has not been flawless when judging a person’s guilt… too many innocent people die from wrongful guilty verdicts for me to support capital punishment.

  13. 13

    Joe, I’m not saying that every case would be a capital case, either. But in the case of Bernardo, or Willie Pickton, who can argue that the death penalty would be a bad thing?

  14. 14

    Joe: When people confess and suffer the death penalty as a result-it’s “assisted suicide”.
    Jan: You are right about the deplorable conditions in prisons, but I don’t think that many criminals can be rehabilitated and frankly, pouring money into those who choose a life of crime, is an insult to our education system which is lacking funds.
    Maybe we should “write off” the criminal element and pour money into education…it could lower the youth crime rate at that stage.

    I am still trying to get over the fact that criminals in prison are allowed to vote!

  15. 15
    Cate McB Says:

    From littlepatti: “When people confess and suffer the death penalty as a result-it’s “assisted suicide”.”
    *****Could you fill us in on your logic here? I don’t see any, particularly since, as Joe has already explained, confessions can be meaningless and “assisted suicide” requires a consent.

    From littlepatti: “I don’t think that many criminals can be rehabilitated and frankly, pouring money into those who choose a life of crime, is an insult to our education system which is lacking funds.”
    *****Who are you to decide who can and cannot be rehabilitated? And few people “choose a life of crime,” at least in the sense that most people would understand “choose”.

    From littlepatti: “Maybe we should “write off” the criminal element and pour money into education…it could lower the youth crime rate at that stage.”

    *****Since a good percentage of “the criminal element” are the poor, Aboriginal people, the mentally ill, in other words, those who have been written off early on in their lives, what exactly would be accomplished if you “write off” “the criminal element”? Rehabilitation is often difficult precisely because people have been written off since birth and it’s these larger social questions that we need to deal with, not just the ‘symptoms’ who get locked up in our jails. Have you ever set foot on a reserve? Do you understand ‘choice’ from the perspective of the streets?
    The “criminal element” is simply bigoted profiling.

  16. 16

    “The “criminal element” is simply bigoted profiling.”

    Please to inform us what is bigoted about calling a criminal a criminal? You’re the one who categorized criminals as the poor, the Aboriginals, and the mentally ill. You left out the rich and privileged and the entitled — was that deliberate on your part? ‘Cause THAT was where the bigotry came into the picture!

  17. 17
    Cate McB Says:

    I didn’t categorize criminals as the poor, etc. I said & I repeat: “a good percentage of “the criminal element” are the poor, Aboriginal people, the mentally ill, in other words, those who have been written off early on in their lives. That’s a statistical fact if you consult the stats on who resides in our jails.

    What is bigoted about calling a criminal a criminal?
    What’s bigoted is painting everyone with the same brush which is what littlepatti did as above with the term ‘criminal element’. Not all ‘criminals’ are the same, especially when the “choice” element is simply not there for many of the poor, Aboriginal people and the mentally ill.

    And if you’re worried about “the rich and privileged and the entitled,” don’t be. They rarely even get the label ‘criminal’ because their riches, privileges and entitlements get them off and usually keep them out of jail period, or out of any lengthy sentences.

  18. 18

    “‘a good percentage of “the criminal element” are the poor, Aboriginal people, the mentally ill…’”

    If you don’t call that a categorization, then what do you call it?

    Patti was NOT the one who spelled things out in terms of economics and cultural specifics. YOU did that. Criminals are criminals wherever you find them — as a group of criminals (without signifying adjectives), they are the criminal element.

  19. 19
    Cate McB Says:

    Yes, I did spell things out in terms of economics and cultural specifics. Its important to do that otherwise people get branded and profiled with terms improperly used like “Criminal” and “criminal element”.

    Sure — “Criminals are criminals wherever you find them — as a group of criminals (without signifying adjectives), they are the criminal element” — yep, if you’ve got your head in the sand and don’t want to hear that there may be great differences between them that make them unequally qualified in the “criminal” dept.

  20. 20

    “Who are you to decide who can and cannot be rehabilitated?”
    First of all I am a tax payer who sees the 2nd & 3rd time offenders in prison. I also read stats on the cost and effect of our rehab. programs. It isn’t working!
    Please don’t give the poor, mentally ill and Natives a bad name. There are plenty who have never been in jail. And yes, I do have some experience, having lived up north, most of my life. 54th parallel.
    Jails are full of bikers, mafia, robbers, pedophiles, rapists, murderers, fraud artists, drug dealers etc… . Most of whom made choices. They were tried, found guilty and sent to the “pokey” to pay their debt to society. The vast majority of the time, they deserve it and more.
    I wouldn’t presume that
    certain groups of people don’t know the difference between right and wrong!

  21. 21
    Cate McB Says:

    littlepatti says, “Who are you to decide who can and cannot be rehabilitated?”
    First of all I am a tax payer who sees the 2nd & 3rd time offenders in prison. I also read stats on the cost and effect of our rehab. programs. It isn’t working!”

    ******Being a taxpayer doesn’t give you any special wisdom to decide who can and cannot be rehabilitated. It only screams ‘Money talks’! And yes, our rehab. programs aren’t working because they are not rehab.

    littlepatti says, “Please don’t give the poor, mentally ill and Natives a bad name. There are plenty who have never been in jail. And yes, I do have some experience, having lived up north, most of my life. 54th parallel.”

    **** Of course there are plenty who have never been in jail. But what I said is that there is a disproportionate number of the poor, mentally ill and Aboriginal people in our jails. And I didn’t ask you if you had lived up north. I asked if you had ever set foot on a reserve and by extension, if you had any concrete understanding of reserve life that can explain why the number of Aboriginal people, etc. in our jails is so disproportionate.

    littlepatti says, “Jails are full of bikers, mafia, robbers, pedophiles, rapists, murderers, fraud artists, drug dealers etc… . Most of whom made choices. They were tried, found guilty and sent to the “pokey” to pay their debt to society. The vast majority of the time, they deserve it and more.”

    ******Again, I’m not interested in the branding categories: “bikers, …..” I’m interested in the people behind the categories. My point and I repeat is that for the poor, Aboriginal people and the mentally ill, “choices” exist on a continuum that includes forced choice, no choice at all, etc. And “debt to society”??? I think society owes a far greater debt to the poor, Aboriginal people and the mentally ill than they could ever owe to us. And again, who are you to say who deserves what?

    littlepatti says, “I wouldn’t presume that certain groups of people don’t know the difference between right and wrong!”

    *****Lets turn that around to what you’re really saying which is “certain groups of people” know the difference between right and wrong and they did wrong anyway. So lets lock ‘em up. ‘Right and wrong’ is a social construction. Its not black and white, but grey, especially on a reserve where services that we take for granted simply don’t exist or exist poorly, eg., education, policing, running water, access to health care, etc. As I said earlier, you can brand someone ‘criminal’ or ‘criminal element’. But among those branded as such, not everyone qualifies in the same way.

  22. 22

    I am not going to enter an argument on semantics.
    I have my opinion. Period.
    The Native question is not debatable by those of us on the side lines. The government has thrown money at the problem without one bit of change except that there is now a sizeable population who have been well educated in the process, and they will lead the Natives out of the dilemma, (which is mostly drugs & alcohol fueled), in time.
    The law is very clear on defining “right and wrong” as do most people regardless of their circumstances. And you are quite right…”life is not fair”, if that’s what you mean.

  23. 23
    Cate McB Says:

    Yes, “the government has thrown money at the problem without one bit of change” because what the government considers to be “the problem” is crisis management when in fact, the problem is the Indian Act itself.

    The native “dilemma” is not “mostly drugs and alcohol fueled.” The underlying ‘fuel’ is grinding poverty and the day-to-day implications of the Indian Act.

    And Re: “The law is very clear on defining “right and wrong” as do most people regardless of their circumstances.” Again, your ‘black & white thinking’ covers up the ‘grey’ that is dealt with in the courts every day. And yes, the law is theoretically clear on paper, but it can still be very wrong in practice, especially when the wrong person gets sent to jail. Capital punishment would only elevate these wrongs to a dizzying height.

  24. 24

    I thought that I was clear-writing about “Right” and “Wrong”.

    I never used the term black & white or gray, but I would leave that to the justice system.
    In view of the thousands of criminals who are sentenced daily, there are very few who don’t belong there, although they all claim that. It’s a tragedy when there is a wrongful conviction and I believe that the last person in Canada to suffer capital punishment, Mr. Coffin, was in all likelihood innocent.
    However, I am not a “bleeding heart” either.
    I wouldn’t support a return to capital punishment, not because of the danger of a few mistakes but because it is barbaric. However, I could be convinced, when I hear of Bernardo, and Karla Homolka (!), Picton and numerous others where there is absolutely no question of their guilt.
    BTW-If an innocent confesses to a crime, and does not appeal or recant the confession and is put to death, I suggest that he/she has a death wish, and therefore is by consent. Of course it’s rhetorical.

  25. 25
    Cate McB Says:

    “BTW-If an innocent confesses to a crime, and does not appeal or recant the confession and is put to death, I suggest that he/she has a death wish, and therefore is by consent. Of course it’s rhetorical.”

    Wow, what a statement — rhetorical or whatever!
    In this case, I suggest that the innocent person may just be succumbing to the limitations of not being able to afford a better lawyer. That’s far from a death wish.

  26. 26

    Cate! Do you have an “off Button”?

  27. 27
    Cate McB Says:

    littlepatti!

    Why do I need an “off Button”? Are you trying to shut me up rather than dealing with what I have to say? Yours is not the only point of view.

  28. 28

    Cate: You are the one who brought this particular point of view to the table. It was not in the discussion until you raised it, and you raised it in the wrong place with the wrong person.

    Try having your say when and where it is relevant.

  29. 29
    Barbara Says:

    I don’t see where anything Cate has said has been irrelevant. The discussion is on whether capital punishment should be restored. Surely, the roots of crime and guilt and innocence of those accused is relevant when capital punishment is being considered.

  30. 30

    Barbara, why would the “roots” be relevant? Did the accused commit the crime or not? That is the only relevance as far as the law is concerned. The “roots” of it (all those excuses, you mean) belong to the soft sciences — social workers and psychiatry.

    I don’t care why Pickton killed all those women. It’s enough for me to know that he killed them. He needs to be done away with. What other information does anyone need to know in order to concur?

  31. 31
    Barbara Says:

    Not every criminal is a Picton or a Bernardo, We are talking about appropriate punishment that does not cast the Canadian people in the role of human exterminators. Police and courts do make mistakes. Here people have defended those who have assisted in the death of their loved ones. Should they get the death sentence for murder, if convicted? We all consider mitigating circumstances and adjust punishment accordingly. More effort should be given to rehabilitation in cases where it is possible.

  32. 32
    Cate McB Says:

    “why would the “roots” be relevant? Did the accused commit the crime or not? That is the only relevance as far as the law is concerned.”

    Actually that’s not true. Intention or ‘the why’ is at the heart of the criminal justice system and those who cannot establish the ‘roots’ and connect them to the suspect don’t have a case. And in the eg. of murder, if you can’t connect a plausible ‘why’ or a motive (not to mention pre-meditated planning) with the suspect, you’re not going to get a conviction of first degree murder.

    Then if ‘the why’ is found to be drunkenness, mental illness, etc. — anything that takes away from a suspect actually being able to have an intention and to act upon it — then that alters possible convictions.

  33. 33

    “Not every criminal is a Picton or a Bernardo…”

    And nobody has said they were. Bringing back capital punishment for wilful and determined repeat offenders is what’s needed. There is no doubt whatsoever that Bernardo and Pickton are guilty, so why are they still breathing? They had no mitigating circumstances. And there is no chance for rehabilitation.

  34. 34

    “Intention or ‘the why’ is at the heart of the criminal justice system…”

    That may well be for a justice system, but we do not have a justice system; we have a legal system.

    As for drunkenness and mental illmess being factors in a capital crime, I will admit for some mental illnesses, but not for drunkenness. Being drunk is a choice. Being mentally ill is not. No mitigation for the drunk.

  35. 35
    Cate McB Says:

    Re: “Intention or ‘the why’ is at the heart of the criminal justice system…”

    Lady Janus: “That may well be for a justice system, but we do not have a justice system; we have a legal system.”

    Lady Janus — you seem to be making up your own system as you go along.
    The fact is that within the legal criminal justice system of the English Common Law tradition, and I repeat, intention or ‘the why’ is at the heart of the system.

    And just like extreme cases do not an argument make — you can’t build the criminal law system on the basis of Pictons and Bernardos.

    ‘An eye for an eye’ may have worked in the Bible, but its all about revenge, not necessarily justice.

  36. 36

    “…you seem to be making up your own system as you go along.”

    Not at all; just reporting what I observe and hear. How else would YOU explain a couple of thrill-killers’ getting off with house arrest and three months behind bars? There was NO justice there!

    And yes, part of capital punishment is possibly about revenge. What’s wrong with revenge? The alternative is literally a license to kill.

    BTW, “an eye for an eye” predates the bible by a few centuries. Our ancestors did have some sense of repercussions for crimes committed against persons and societies. I don’t know of a good reason why “we” decided against this in the first place.

  37. 37
    yesitsme Says:

    do not reinstate death penalty … as much as some ppl (as others might think) “deserve it” they do deserve other chances …as much as the others didn’t…that person has a choice to change or not and maybe if they don’t or didn’t change they should…but i do NOT believe in death penalty …B>S!!!!

  38. 38
    yesitsme Says:

    and half the time when someone pleads guilty for something they really did NOT do …their lawyer either says plead guilty or they believe to plead guilty because they think or lawyer says if they plead innocent they will get put away longer…. hmm they would plead guilty .. they would confess for less trouble like when u were six n split the milk but blamed it on your brother or sis

  39. 39

    I don’t think that “half the time” people plead guilty when they are not, and
    “the person has a choice to change or not”- Actually a person has a choice-to commit a crime or not.
    We didn’t “spit in the milk” when we were six & blame someone else.
    I don’t believe in reinstating the death penalty either, but I also don’t believe that most people who commit terrible crimes can be rehabilitated, or deserve any special treatment because of a buggered-up history. MOST people know the difference between right & wrong, except psychopaths and they can’t be “cured.”
    We have a social responsibility to help all of our citizens, but it seems that repeat criminals get an unfair share of our resources, while we are scrambling to buy school books, and look after the homeless.

  40. 41

    I know about this guy, Smith: “They were cold-blooded killings. Smith said he shot the men just to know how it felt to take a life and because he wanted to steal their car.”

    And now he’s a little pissy that Canada doesn’t want to rescue him from execution?

    And this: “‘They don’t know me. They’re taking a look at what happened to me all that time ago.’”

    NOTHING “happened” to HIM! HE “happened” to the two men he killed for the thrill of it!

    Pull his plug. And the sooner the better.

  41. 42

    Right on, J!
    BTW, I am so concerned about Neil- After his bout with the flu and a couple of days of recovery, we haven’t heard from him.
    He’s 88 years old and I hope he hasn’t been in hospital.
    I miss him!
    Pat

  42. 43
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    It has been a while since Neil put up a new post. I also hope that he is ok. I miss him too.

  43. 44
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