Capital punishment in Canada is dead. Like the dead parrot in the Monty Python sketch, it’s passed on and shuffled off this mortal coil. If Angus Reid hadn’t tried to revive it with a misleading poll, it’d be pushing up the daisies.
The poll to which I refer is a recent Angus Reid poll, onto which my string ‘em up colleague and the Toronto Star have gleefully glommed, hoping that it portends a return of the death penalty. The Star sums up the poll with the headline “63% of Canadians favour a return to the death penalty… “
Upon closer reading, the cited 63% support was in response to whether capital punishment “might sometimes be appropriate.”
“Might sometimes be appropriate?” Asked that way, the question immediately turns one’s thoughts to Karla Homolka, Clifford Robert Olson, and Robert Picton. I’m surprised support wasn’t much higher, as even the staunchest opponents of the death penalty might say “hmmm” before saying no to that question.
The survey admits that when offered a choice between the death penalty and life imprisonment, 50% of Canadians favour life imprisonment, confirming Stats Can’s figures which show support for the death penalty in Canada has dropped from 66% when it was first abolished in 1978 to 50% today, “depending on the wording of the poll.”
Canada’s parliament abolished the death penalty on the basis of facts, not incendiary polls.
Contrary to popular belief, the death penalty is more expensive than life imprisonment. According to the L.A. Times, California would save 114 million per year if they stopped expensive, convoluted deliberations surrounding death penalty cases.
Capital punishment is not a deterrent. U.S., states without the death penalty have a 63% lower murder rate than those with the death penalty, and in Canada, since we stopped executing people, our murder rate has dropped from 3.0 to 1.78 per 100,000 people.
Famous Canadian “murderers” Steven Truscott (1959), David Milgard (1970) and at least 22 other convicted murderers were later exonerated. The death penalty inevitably risks killing innocent people.
All but one civilized western country abolished the death penalty long ago. Since 2009, no one in the western hemisphere was executed – except in the U.S.
The death penalty is a remnant of a barbaric past.
Like Monty Python’s dead parrot, it’s an ex-policy.