February 12, 1915

CON

John Douglas Hazen (Minister of Marine and Fisheries; Minister of the Naval Service)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. HAZEN:

I will move for the appointment of a committee to-morrow.

Topic:   POLLUTION OF NAVIGABLE WATERS.
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Motion agreed to, and Bill read the second time.


ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.


Mr. ROBERT BICKERDIKE (St. Lawrence, Montreal) moved the second reading of Bill No. 18, to amend the Criminal Code. He said: When I introduced this Bill a few days ago I made the assertion that capital punishment is murder. I repeat that capital punishment is murder; legalized, if you like; but the state that puts capital punishment into force becomes a murderer. Capital punishment is a relic of the dark and pestilential days of Nero's misrule of the Roman empire. I think I am safe in saying that the time has arrived when it is the bounden duty of this Government and this Parliament to give consideration to this grave question, which is daily growing in importance all over the world, especially among Christian nations. The purpose of the Bill is to abolish capital punishment in the Dominion of Canada and to substitute life imprisonment for the different crimes for which capital punishment is provided in our present criminal code. The opinion has gained ground very rapidly in recent years that the death penalty is nothing more or less than legalized brutal murder. I am aware that there are several members of this House who still cling to the idea that capital punishment is a deterrent, and to those I would say that if they really consider it to he a deterrent, our executions should be made as public as possible. If it is to be considered as an object lesson to the community, let us have a hanging bee in the public square. If it is to be an object lesson, it should be as thorough a one as possible; it will be better to hold it where every man, woman and child will be able to see the whole ghastly proceedings. If any hon. gentlemen in this House vote against the Bill, I hope they will feel a sense of personal guilt if Canada must continue to stand before the whole world as a barbarous country. I submit that life is the immediate gift of God to man; man has no right to resign it, nor should it be taken from him, unless by the God who gave it to him. I believe that all the members of this House will agree with me on that point. Innocent individuals, as we know, are occasionally executed, and thus makes the state which orders his execution a murderer of the worst kind. Capital punishment prevents reparation in cases of subsequently proven innocence. I submit that two or more men organized under a form of government have no more right to break God's commandments or to take life than one man has. It is murder in either case. Is it not better that ninety-nine guilty persons should go free than that one innocent man should be hanged? We all know That 1914 has been quite a hanging year; in fact, it will be known in history as the hanging year. It has been suggested that the authorities developed a mania for hanging in 1914 such as never has been known in Canada since the days of 1837 and 1838. In truth, it has been said by some that the authorities of 1914 went hanging mad. I am prepared to prove to this House by statistics-and my remarks



will consist largely of statistics-that a great many guilty men go free, while a number of innocent men are hanged, especially if they are poor men. I say also that in 1914 three men were hanged whom the public believed to be innocent. One of them, we know, was innocent, and I am prepared to prove it. Capital punishment, I say, is a legalized crime, and is morally indefensible. All who take part in it are tainted with blood guiltiness, from the judge down to the hangman, the crown prosecutor and his running mate, the crown executioner, as well as the nation which passively allows such things to he. If crime does not increase in other countries in consequence of the abolition of capital punishment, why should it increase in Canada? It is universally admitted that two wrongs do not make a right; yet the operation of our law would seem to indicate that the contrary is the truth. A man sins by taking human life; the state sins by taking his life, and two lives are sacrificed. I submit that this is a grotesque travesty of justice. In King John's time the whole injunction of 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' was literally obeyed, as well as 'a life for a life/ For many centuries we have ignored the two first injunctions, whilst holding with firm tenacity to the third; yet we Canadians call ourselves a Christian nation. Capital punishment has been abolished in a great many countries, states and provinces, and in every case with good results. The following countries have abolished it: Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Holland, Tuscany, San Marino, Roumania, New South Wales, State of Michigan, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Maine, and Kansas. In the early stages of society the man committing homicide was killed by the avenger of blood on behalf of the family of the man killed, and not as representing the authority of the state. This was the custom ' for centuries, till the mischief of this practice was mitigated by the establishment of cities'of refuge, and in pagan and Christian times by the recognizing of the sanctuary of the temple and of the churches. In the laws of Khamurobi, king of Babylon, 22852241 B.C., the death penalty was imposed for many offences; the modes of execution specially mentioned are drowning, burning and impalement. Draco, the first compiler of the penal code of Greece, made death the penalty for all offences. When asked why he did so, he replied; ' The least offences deserve death, and I can impose no worse for the higher crimes/ Under the Mosaic code the law of vengeance was personified in the then prevailing doctrine of ' an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,' in many instances that rule being carried out literally. In the dark ages of the United Kingdom, under the rule of the Saxon and Danish kings, the modes of capital punishment most common were: hanging, beheading, drowning, burning, stoning, and precipitation from rocks. William the Conqueror would not permit the execution of the death sentence by hanging, 'but by mutilation. Death was the penalty for the most trivial offences; for example, the cutting down of a tree, poaching deer, or even stealing a loaf of bread. In 1800 there were over 200 capital crimes in Great Britain, and 180 in 1819. Men were hanged and quartered for offences which now would be regarded as misdemeanours, while the learned clergy and statesmen looked on with approval and applause. During the reign of Henry the Eighth 72,000 persons were executed. The author of Capital Punishment in the Encyclopoedia Britan-nica, vol. 5, page 279, says: * At the end of the eighteenth century the criminal laws of all Europe were ferocious and indiscriminate in their administration of capital punishment for almost all grave crimes... yet such forms of crime were far more numerous than they are now. The best blood of England drenched the execution block, and Keeh, the legal executioner, became more infamous than Rob Roy, the bandit. Death was a panacea for all ills. The United States adopted the common law of England replete with capital offences, but has finally limited the number of hanging offences, in practice at least, to two: murder and rape; but the statute names other offences, and hanging is the mode of execution. In Belgium no execution has taken place since 1863; in Finland none since 1824; in Holland none since 1860, and capital punishment was totally abolished there in 1870. There have been no executions in Norway since 1876. Norway abolished capital punishment in 1905; Portugal in 1867; Roumania in 1864. Russia abolished capital punishment, except for military offences, in 1750, but later restored it for a short period, only to again abolish it in 1907. Only 7 out of 22 cantons in Switzerland have it. Italy revoked the law in 1888. In the United States the number of capital crimes has been reduced in recent years to only four, and the following states have abolished the death penalty: Maine, where it was abolished in 1876, restored in 1883, and finally abolished in 1887, on the recommendation of the governor of the state; Rhode Island, in 1853; Wisconsin, in 1853; and Kansas, in 1901, but there have been no legal executions in Kansas since 1872; Michigan, in 1847. I now propose to repeal the law of blood and vengeance in Canada, and to make life imprisonment the maximum punishment. The two main objects in enforcing our criminal laws are, first, to protect society; secondly, to reform the criminal. Some would add a third reason, namely, to punish the criminal himself, but in this day of brotherly love, when we are taught to love our enemies, and when charity and love have triumphed over vengeance and hatred, no one would seriously insist that this country has any more right to kill a man, in order to avenge the death of his victim, than has an individual. Every man will agree with me on this one point, that, if social conditions will not be made worse by the abolition of the death penalty, then it should be abolished. The only way to determine this question is to compare the statistics of the states with and without the death penalty. The statistics are rather voluminous. I will just read a few of them, and, with the permission of the House, will hand the rest to the "Hansard" reporter.


CON

Thomas Simpson Sproule (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. SPEAKER:

It 'cannot get on "Hansard" in that way. The rule is to report only what is read.

Topic:   ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
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Robert Bickerdike

Mr. BICKERDIKE:

Very well, Sir. According to the mortality statistics compiled

by the United States Bureau of Statistics and published in 1912, the latest I could get, the number of murders in California was 19 per 100,000 population; in Colorado, 21; in Connecticut, 7; in Indiana, 10; in Maine, where capital punishment has been abolished, only 2.

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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER:

Do those statistics include eases of manslaughter, or relate only to murders committed with malice aforethought?

Topic:   ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
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?

Robert Bickerdike

Mr. BICKERDIKE:

Homicide.

Topic:   ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER:

Homicide could be murder or manslaughter.

Topic:   ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
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?

Robert Bickerdike

Mr. BICKERDIKE:

I think they include both.

Topic:   ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
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CON

Edward Arthur Lancaster

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. LANCASTER:

Is the hon. gentleman making any distinction in his Bill between punishment for manslaughter and punishment for deliberate murder with malice aforethought? Manslaughter to-day is punishable by imprisonment for life if the judge chooses to inflict it.

Topic:   ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
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Robert Bickerdike

Mr. BICKERDIKE:

I. make no distinction. I claim that the greatest penalty that a Christian country should inflict upon any criminal should be life imprisonment, even for murder, which I suppose is considered the greatest offence. I was saying that in the states where capital punishment has been abolished, crime has decreased. Furthermore, no state or district or country that has abolished capital punishment has it in practice to-day. I challenge any one to find a single country in the world that has abolished capital punishment and inflicts the death penalty to-day. The following figures show the number of murders per 100,000 population for ten years in several states:

State. 1900. 1901.

New Jersey-

Cities

1.7 0.9Rural

0.1 0.1

New York-

Cities

2.00 1.8Rural

0.2 0.4

Ohio-

Cities

Rural

Pennsylvania-

Cities

Rural

Rhode Island-

Cities

2.5 2.8Rural

2.8 0.7

South Dakota-

Cities

Rural >

[DOT]3 902. 1903. 1904. 1905. 1906. 1907. 1908. 1909.1.4 0.7 1.3 1.8 2.9 4.2 3.7 4.70.8 0.2 0.9 1.4 2.5 3.2 4.6 , l 2.92.0 1.4 2.2 3.5 5.0 6.1 5.3 4.40.3 0.5 0.5 0.6 1.8 3.3 3.6 3.37.42.85.8 6.5 5.0 4.74.5 4.8 4.9 4.12 7 2.3 3.5 2.5 3.9 5.5 4.2 3.04.0 1.9 1.9 0.6 2.3 1.1 3.3 2.17.4 7.22.1 2.6 3.8 2.2

State.

Vermont- Cities . Rural . Washington Cities . . Rural . Wisconsin- Cities . , Rural .

1900. 1901. 1902. 1903. 1904. 1905. 1906. 1907. 1908. 1909.

[DOT][DOT][DOT] 2 0 2.0 ... 3.9 3.8 3.8... 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 2.0 1.0 1.3 ' 2.3 3.811.7 8.1

6.3 4.2[DOT]"

3.1 1.9

1.6 1.7

It will thus be seen that for the ten-year period beginning with 1900 the average number of homicides in the States where capital punishment had been abolished per hundred thousand population was: Maine, 2-5; Michigan, 3-8; Rhode Island, 5; and for the two years, 1908 and 1909, for which Wisconsin reported her homicides, she averaged 4-1, there being a decrease in 1909 over the previous year. In some of the States where capital punishment prevailed we find that for a ten-year period, beginning with the year 1900, the average number of homicides per 100,000 population was: Indiana, 6-4; New Jersey, 4; New York, 4-8; and for the four years reported by Pennsylvania an average of 9-8. Ohio reports for the year 1909 only, giving 10-2; California for a four-year period shows twenty homicides per 100,000 population. While Massachusetts only shows an average of 2-57 for each 100,000 population, the increase in that State from 1905 to 1909 was 100 per cent. It will be further seen that California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont, where capital punishment obtains, and where it is enforced rigidly, show an increase in the number of homicides for the period reported in the above statistics, while of the five states that have abolished the death penalty, only Michigan shows an increase, which is slight, but her general average for a ten-year period is less than either of the states that have retained the death penalty, with the exception of Vermont and New Hampshire; and that they have increased their homicide rate per annum continually, while Michigan shows a decrease in 1909 over the previous year. Besides the record shows that the death penalty has been abolished in Vermont and New Hampshire by practice for twenty years.

The general average for the period reported in the above table of statistics for the five states where the death penalty has been revoked is 3 85 per 100,000 population, while for the states inflicting the death

[Mr. Bickerdike.l

penalty for the period reported the general .average is 8-25, or nearly 115 per cent greater. The average homicidal rate in Tennessee was five times greater than in either of the abolition states.

While I was unable to get the statistics on this question from Kansas, I am reliably informed that the number of homicides in that state per capita is comparatively small, and in a recent letter from the secretary of the present Governor of that state he informs me that the people there are universally pleased with the workings of the new law abolishing the death penalty, and that there is no disposition to restore capital punishment in that state. It will be remembered that there has never been a legal execution in that state since 1872, the governors in their discretion failing to sign the death warrants at the end of one year's imprisonment, as the law required.

The results obtained in foreign countries from the abolition of the death penalty are no less beneficial than in the United States. I take the following facts and statistics from Report No. 108 on capital crimes of the fifty-fourth United States Congress, first session, printed January 22, 1896, by order of the House of Representatives:

Belgium.-The penalty of death has not been abolished in Belgium, but since 1866 it has not been executed. In order to appreciate the results, the following statistics are given. For the period from 1831 to 1S90, in the first thirty-five years, there were 321 capital condemnations, which was at the rate of 9.17 per year. In the twenty-five years following the cessation of executions there were 201, which was at the rate of 8.004, showing a decrease of 1.1696.

Costa Rica.-The results of the abolition of capital punishment for all offences in Costa Rica are considered very favourable, thus confirming public sentiment against capital punishment.

Hayti.-The constitution of 1879 abolished the death penalty for political offences. Since the period of said abolition political crimes have not been more frequent.

Holland.-There has been no increase ot crime since the abolition of the death penalty.

Italy.-Since the abolition of the death penalty by the new common penal code, which went into force January 1, 1890, the results obtained

up to this present time have fully realized the expectations cherished by parliament, by public opinion, and by students of criminal matters, that is to say, social security has not been disturbed or diminished by it, and consequently the conditions of high criminality have not been rendered worse.

Norway.-Since 1874 it is made discretionary with the courts of death or hard labour for life, since which time a majority of the latter cases have been imposed, and no bad consequences, so far as public safety is concerned, have been observed.

Portugal.-The death penalty was abolished by the law on the first of July, 1867, and the number of homicides to which this penalty was applied has diminished during ftie succeeding years.

Switzerland..-Since 1874 capital punishment has been abolished in fifteen of the twenty-two cantons in Switzerland.

The only light we have to guide our advancing footsteps in enacting progressive legislation is the unerring light of experience. The record shows that the death penalty has been abolished in Michigan for sixty-six years; in Rhode Island for sixty-one years; in Wisconsin for sixty years; in Maine for thirty-seven years, and in Kansas by practice for about fifty years, and recently by statute. And yet those enlightened and progressive states have discovered no good reason for repealing these laws that have been in force for over a half century in most instances. That alone should be sufficient to convince us that the abolition statutes have vindicated their existence. Besides, is it a mere coincidence that the states that have so long foregone the death penalty have less than one-half the number of homicides of the states that foster executions? Is it only a coincidence that homicides in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire have increased over previous years, while in their sister, state of Maine, where life imprisonment is the highest penalty, the number of homicides have decreased in the same period? In 1909 the three states named above registered a total of homicides per 100,000 population as follows: Massachusetts, 4-8; Connecticut, 7-9; Vermont, 7-6, while in Maine, for the same period 2-2 for the same ratio is shown.

Making further comparisons for the year 1909 we find registered homicides per 100,000 as follows: Michigan, 4-4; Wisconsin,

3-6; and Rhode Island, 5-1 * as against the death penalty states as follows: Indiana,

10-7; Ohio, 10-2; Pennsylvania, 8-8; New York, 7-7; New Jersey, 7.6; Colorado, 21-4; California, 20; Maryland, 7-2; New Hampshire, 2-9; South Dakota, 9-4; Washington, 94

12-3. Can all of the above facts, so favourable to the states that have abolished the death penalty, be attributed to mere chance?

In the same year the number of homicides per million people in the four abolition states was thirty-five; there were eighty-five in the death-penalty states per million population. In 1904, taking the whole United States, the ratio was 104-4 per million, while Maine, for the same year, registers 24 for each million inhabitants, Michigan 20, and Rhode Island 51, or nearly one-half the general average for all the states.

The record further shows that from 1885 to 1904 homicides increased from 32-2 per million people to 104-4 for the same ratio. There is no question that capital punishment increases the number of murders in any country. Crime begets crime just as thistledown begets thistles. In every case in which a man has been hanged, in Canada or any place else, immediately afterwards a large number of murders have been committed. This in the face of the fact that capital punishment was in full force in every state in the Union but .four or five.

The foreign States that have abolished the death penalty not only refuse to reinstate it, but the reports above quoted show that criminal conditions are in * all instances as good, and in some reported better than before the abolition of it. After centuries of observation and experience, the learned judges of England and America established a rule making a preponderance of evidence in civil cases the guide for themselves and juries in deciding questions of disputed facts. That is the only true rule. Then, have I not proven my case by an overwhelming preponderance of the proof? The evidence based on actual experience in foreign States is so near unanimous in favour of its abolition that it is a mere exception to a general rule that a fact militates against it.

But you may ask why do legal executions increase capital crimes? Because crime is largely a disease, and the demoralizing effect of a legal execution, and the example thus set by the state arouses the criminal nature and cheapens life in the estimation of the criminally inclined. Like begets like in this respect, as sure as night follows day. We cannot put it better than to quote from Mrs. Ella Wheeler Wilcox's beautiful poem on capital punishment:-

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

Who were

they ?

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Robert Bickerdike

Mr. BICKERDIKE:

One innocent man that we know of was hanged in New Westminster, B.C. In one case two men-I do not say they were innocent, and we know they were thieves-went into a sawmill office, stole a cash-box and went to the park to divide the spoils. It was getting dark, and one of them struck a match, and a policeman came along and one of them fired. Some said that both fired, but one of them claimed he did not fire, and the other claimed he merely fired to frighten the policeman, but the bullet struck a tree and glanced off and killed the policeman As a result of the exami-

nation it was found that there was only one bullet which struck that policeman, but British Columbia was determined to make an example, and in that case, as in the old days in Ireland, they gave both of them the benefit of the doubt and hanged the two.

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LIB

Wilfrid Laurier (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Liberal

Sir WILFRID LAURIER:

They were

both guilty.

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Robert Bickerdike

Mr. BICKERDIKE:

They were not both guilty, SiT. I am sorry to have to contradict my leader.

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LIB

Edmond Proulx

Liberal

Mr. PROULX:

The hon. gentleman

should know that, being on an unlawful errand, if one of them committed murder they were both guilty of murder.

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Robert Bickerdike

Mr. BICKERDIKE:

That is because one of them was in bad company, and if every man in this House that was ever in bad company was hanged there would not be many of us here to-day. Of course, that remark does not apply to my respected leader. The fact is, that that man was innocent of the crime of murder for which he paid the death penalty; and, to the disgrace of that court, and to the disgrace of the judge and jury, they took the money for sending that innocent man into eternity; they took blood money and they knew it. Even the Tory papers that were entirely opposed to anything I said in the discussion on former occasions said they were surprised that the Minister of Justice did not see' that there was a reprieve in that case.

The Government itself is engaged in the vocation of killing the criminally inclined, and the criminals put no higher value on life than the Government does itself.

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CON

John Hampden Burnham

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BURNHAM:

What happens to those who die in sin?

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February 12, 1915