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Not in the Pardoning Mood: Reinstating Death Penalty in Canada

Since it was elected, the Government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been known for its efforts to make Canadian criminal justice stricter. While the Opposition in Parliament has resisted quite a few of Harper’s efforts, some of the bills proposed by his Government have been passed, including measures to raise penalties for sexual and drug-related offences and a restriction on pardons for certain offenders. But on 18 January, Harper was forced to address an issue which he had tried to avoid: in an interview with CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge, he was asked whether his government would consider returning the death penalty to Canada if re-elected. His initial answer was a tactful “I don’t see the country as wanting to do that.” When pressed to reveal his own opinion, Harper elaborated: “Well, I personally think there are times when capital punishment is appropriate. But I’ve also committed that I’m not, you know, in the next Parliament, I’m not, no plans to bring that issue forward.”

Clearly, the Prime Minster does not intend to bring his opinions on this divisive issue into the Canadian political arena. But his personal views may be shared by an increasing number of his compatriots: according to a 2010 Angus Reid poll, a fair majority of Canadians, 62%, are in favour of reinstating the death penalty for murderers, while a sizable minority, 31%, would allow it to be imposed on rapists. Given these statistics, could a modern government stage an attempt to bring back capital punishment with any degree of success?

Historical background

The sentence of death by hanging was a Canadian reality within living memory. Until 1961, it was the standard punishment for murder; in that year, the law was amended to restrict the death penalty to those who committed “capital murder”, essentially any planned killing. Nonetheless, the last execution in Canada was in 1962, after which the government put a moratorium on carrying out death sentences. Capital punishment was formally removed from the Criminal Code in 1976. It remained residually in the National Defence Act for serious military crimes such as treason and mutiny; even those provisions were never used in recent history and were ultimately repealed on 10 December 1998.

Barriers to reinstatement

If a modern government were to go forward with a proposal to reinstate the death penalty, it would raise serious human rights issues. In an interview on the subject, Osgoode Hall law professor Jamie Cameron is quoted as stating that “…any attempt to reinstitute the death penalty would raise serious constitutional questions. In my opinion, the odds are that it would be found unconstitutional.” Cameron clearly has in mind Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees “life, liberty and security of the person”. On top of this, capital punishment is not practiced in most of the Western world, and an attempt to reinstate it would be bound to draw serious criticism from the international community.

If we were to focus solely on the current political situation, another major barrier, regardless of public opinion, is the fact that the Liberal Party, which unequivocally opposes the death penalty, currently has a strong position the House of Commons and has successfully stalled far less extreme reforms to criminal law.

As things stand, therefore, a return to capital punishment in Canada does not seem to be likely. Regardless of the common person’s view on the matter, the current political zeitgeist is not in favour of reinstating the death penalty. In particular, Canada’s international reputation as a liberal, progressive country would be significantly jeopardized by such a move, a price that most politicians are not willing to pay. Nonetheless, Canadian criminal law is likely to become less forgiving soon. The government is working hard to pass Bill C-23B, which will affect pardons to which, at present, a convicted criminal is entitled after 3 to 10 years have passed from the completion of their sentence. Even today, anyone convicted of an offence carrying a life or indeterminate sentence can never be pardoned, meaning that their criminal record will always be accessible to the public. Bill C-23B will make the requirements for obtaining a pardon even more restrictive, lengthening waiting times and also re-naming pardons “record suspensions”, which will distinguish them from the more generous pardons occasionally granted by the Governor General under the Royal Prerogative of clemency.

Ned Lecic lives and works in Toronto. He is a writer for a Canadian pardons agency.

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Question by zombie: Can i still get a good job with a ” reckless endangerment” suspension on my record?
I am scared that I wont be able to get a good Job now that I got a “reckless endangerment” suspension on my record. This is my only suspension and I have a few cut classes on my record too. I want to turn my life around and do the best I can in school but I think its too late.. ( I’m in 9th grade). So is it possible for me to still get a good job ( like a lawyer) even though I got this 1 suspension.

Best answer:

Answer by myeatyou!
Why would an employer have access to your school records? You’re only in 9th grade, no employer is even going to care about 12th grade! Especially if you go to university afterwards.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!
Mass. cop's suspension overturned
"He suspended her, and she grieved it with the union," Deveau said. "The union suggested there was no wrongdoing done, and the charges should be dismissed and her record cleared and she should be made whole for the loss of her wages. The union …
Read more on Police News

How to practice shooting driven wild boar in Kent, plus pigeons in Essex, a record muntjac in Hampshire and an angy anti from Leeds – what a lot of programme this week in Fieldsports Britain! We’re off to Roy Lupton’s place in Kent. Roy has got a fabulous new way to practice his double rifle skills (based on an original sandwich with Tim Pilbeam!). It’s a radio-controlled offroad car with a target on its back, and it’s a laugh-a-pellet with an airgun. Next, we’re out pigeon shooting in Essex with Geoff Garrod, vice chairman of the National Gamekeepers Organisation and star of the Gamekeepers Diary DVD series. And he has brought his 13-year-old son Justin Garrod, who is full of questions. Finally, Mark Gilchrist attracted cyber-bullies from the anti-hunting lobby when he shot a white fox last year. Many of them said they wanted Mark dead. We confront one of the more violent League Against Cruel Sports supporters – and we gain the support of BeatBullying.org.
Video Rating: 4 / 5

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16 Responses to “Not in the Pardoning Mood: Reinstating Death Penalty in Canada”

  • UnIuckyChucky:

    go vengence!!!


    Rats and Mice are vermin and as such must be dispatched if caught in a live trap. That’s not just my thinking, but the Law. You are breaking the Law if you release live vermin. The only other option you have is to keep it till it dies of old age. What if you are a farmer with hundreds of Rats/Mice getting into your grain store?, what do you suggest said farmer should do?.

  • GuTWorm68:

    You really are clueless. What do you think he was shooting? A Barrett M82 Light 50? Plus, it’s pigeon. Not pidgeon.

  • LNRansom:

    Humane mouse traps and cage traps. Mouse wanders into box, gets trapped then humanely released outside. The downside is they just go back in the house the same way they did the last time.

  • lasourisaboyante:

    Obviously you have no idea what you are talking about. The traffic is the better part of a mile away, and birdshot has a maximum effective range of less than 200 yards, and absolute maximum of well under half a mile. The people in the cars couldn’t have been hit, if the shooters were trying their level best to hit them. Physically impossible.
    1st, learn something about the topic before you comment. 2nd grow up.

  • hk4634:

    antis people who dont know a thing in the world about the animal there stickin up for idiots!!!!!

  • siciliancara:

    That anti was not expecting that.

  • DragonoftheEastblu:

    A couple of antis stopped me and a few of my mates after school. I was eating a sandwich at the time and one of them (a boney bitch) asked me if there was meat in it. I said yes and she wanted to know how it was handled. I told her it was killed quickly, cleaned on the spot, brought back to a kitchen, butchered and packed. She asked me how i knew this and i told her i did it. “This is venison” i said.

    Both the cunts ran like driven boar XD.

  • scott glendinning:

    Six minutes and five seconds into the recording clearly shows the travel of gunfire past a pidgeon and straight at traffic. Eight minutes and forty-five seconds the gallery of moving vehicles in the background are unaware they are being randomly shot at.

  • cottam7810:

    great vid, why don’t the antis find something to complain about that actually has something to do with them. Its none of their business so therefore anti people, you sirs can go and fuck each other!!!

  • mrsmelzbad:

    Next time the rabid anti-freaks show up,…. pay afew minors to open up with paint ball guns. Bonus $ for head-shot’s.

  • headphones222:

    Very often they have legitimate opinions…

  • barrylumper:

    why do the antis just leave it!

  • hampshirehunter:

    If you want to see blood spurt out their eyes, check out the field sports episode about the soft tip ammo, awsome episode. Keep up the good work Countryside Alliance.

  • W00LFY100:

    I think Charlie is in the wrong profession, he should be a doctor or counselor with such a calm and soothing voice haha


    I wonder what Antis do when they get mice or rats?. They can’t use poison as poison can take days before it kills. Unlike that well aimed bullet that took out that fox.

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