November 22, 1967

NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. T. C. Douglas (Burnaby-Coquitlam):

supplementary question, Mr. Speaker. Would the minister explain what the change in price means? Am I correct in assuming that the price formerly was 47J cents and now it is 51 cents?

Topic:   INDUSTRY
Subtopic:   CLOSING OF TORONTO PLANT BECAUSE OF AUTOMOBILE AGREEMENT
Permalink
LIB

Jean-Luc Pepin (Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources)

Liberal

Mr. Pepin:

I only gave the house information I had. I was not commenting on it. The price up to recent days had been 47J cents. I understand that it was very much feared that the price could have gone up to 60 cents. Again I am only repeating information that I have received.

Topic:   INDUSTRY
Subtopic:   CLOSING OF TORONTO PLANT BECAUSE OF AUTOMOBILE AGREEMENT
Permalink
NDP

Thomas Clement (Tommy) Douglas

New Democratic Party

Mr. Douglas:

May I ask a supplementary question.

Topic:   INDUSTRY
Subtopic:   CLOSING OF TORONTO PLANT BECAUSE OF AUTOMOBILE AGREEMENT
Permalink
LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order, please. We have

already passed the time that is allotted for questions.

Topic:   INDUSTRY
Subtopic:   CLOSING OF TORONTO PLANT BECAUSE OF AUTOMOBILE AGREEMENT
Permalink
RA

David Réal Caouette

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Real Caouelte (Villeneuve):

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I was the only one of my group who put a question within a 30-minute period today. The hon. member for Portneuf (Mr. Godin) got up about ten times and tried to be recognized in order to put a very simple question.

Topic:   INDUSTRY
Subtopic:   CLOSING OF TORONTO PLANT BECAUSE OF AUTOMOBILE AGREEMENT
Permalink
LIB

Lucien Lamoureux (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I shall be pleased to recognize the hon. member for Portneuf tomorrow. I should, however, like to point

November 22, 1967

4570 COMMONS

Amendments Respecting Death Sentence out to the hon. member that, while one member of his party was recognized during the oral question period, not a single member was recognized on the government side.

Topic:   INDUSTRY
Subtopic:   CLOSING OF TORONTO PLANT BECAUSE OF AUTOMOBILE AGREEMENT
Permalink
RA

David Réal Caouette

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Caouelie:

That is because they do not have any questions to put, Mr. Speaker.

Topic:   INDUSTRY
Subtopic:   CLOSING OF TORONTO PLANT BECAUSE OF AUTOMOBILE AGREEMENT
Permalink

CRIMINAL CODE

AMENDMENTS RESPECTING DEATH SENTENCE AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT


The house resumed from Thursday, November 16, consideration of the motion of Mr. Pennell for the second reading of Bill No. C-168, to amend the Criminal Code.


?

Some hon. Members:

Question.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING DEATH SENTENCE AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Permalink
PC

John (Jack) Henry Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. J. H. Horner (Acadia):

Mr. Speaker, until the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) spoke in this debate last Thursday I had not intended to speak. Nevertheless, intentionally or unintentionally, his remarks provoked me to such an extent that I feel I must say something. His entire speech was weak. It had little substance and put forward few arguments in support of the bill. In so many words, he said that he favoured the complete abolition of the death penalty and that retaining it for those who murder guards and policemen was a compromise. He also said that the vote, when it comes, will be free. We shall see how free it is when we see how successful have been those on this side who have tried to persuade those on the government side to vote against it. Members on the government side will not vote readily against the wishes of the Prime Minister and the Solicitor General (Mr. Pennell). I shall be convinced it is free only after the results of that vote are apparent. We shall compare the performances of hon. members in this house. We shall note how some of them have voted on this bill and how they voted on the bill that came up 18 months ago, which dealt with the same subject matter; and we shall then see whether pressure has been applied.

The Prime Minister also said that once the house decides the matter, the law of the land will be upheld. He said much the same sort of thing 18 months ago, after the bill then before the house had been defeated. It may be argued, of course, that since the cabinet has the right to commute sentences, the law of the land has been carried out. When one remembers the Santa Claus killer, who wielded a machine gun in Montreal two years ago and killed two policemen, for

which crime he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death, and when he recalls that after this the cabinet commuted that sentence to life imprisonment, he wonders whether the law of the land is being upheld. I find it hard to believe that this cabinet will uphold the law of the land, since, after the decision of the house 18 months ago, it has persisted in commuting death sentences.

Approximately one year ago-it may have been this spring-a policeman in Alberta was shot in cold blood. The sentence of the murderer was commuted. In commuting that sentence the cabinet has shown that it cannot be trusted to uphold the law of the land, even as it might be if this bill were to carry. Certainly anyone who is somewhat sceptical about the government's intentions-and I am sceptical about the government, period -might be pardoned for not believing that the government intends to uphold the criminal law.

The Prime Minister said that the onus is on the retentionists to prove that the death sentence is a deterrent to murder. Why, then, does he include in this bill the death sentence for convicted murderers of policemen and prison guards? Surely it is to deter would-be murderers from killing policemen and prison guards. He includes in this bill a tidbit of the retentionists' philosophy, so to speak, and thus answers his own argument.

In his speech the Prime Minister implied that retentionists are not civilized, that they are barbarians. In so many words he said that if we do not pass this bill we shall show the world that Canada still is a barbaric country.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING DEATH SENTENCE AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

A mentally barbaric country.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING DEATH SENTENCE AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Permalink
PC

John (Jack) Henry Horner

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Horner (Acadia):

That is a poor, negative attitude for the Prime Minister of the country to hold. I do not for a minute accept as true his accusation that retentionists are barbarians.

He also said that he believed punishment in itself to be an ineffectual deterrent. I say that one has only to consider his children. If one says to his children that if they are disobedient they will be punished, and if he punishes them when they are disobedient, then the threat of punishment becomes a deterrent to future mischief. Only when the punishment is not meted out does it lose credibility. Take another example, in the commercial field. Those supplying electricity say, "If you do not pay your bill your electric

November 22, 1987

power supply will be cut off." People know that is true; they know that power will be cut off. They pay their bills knowing that the threatened action will be carried out if they do not pay. I would expect the electric company to say to me "We will not tell you that we will cut off your power unless we are prepared to cut it off. There is no use telling you we will cut if off if we are not prepared to do that." If people know that the punishment is not going to be put into effect, then its deterrent value is destroyed. This is what has happened with respect to the government's handling of capital punishment. Members of the government can quote statistics to prove their case, but how effective a deterrent can capital punishment be if there is widespread knowledge that the government will not carry through?

[DOT] (3:20 p.m.)

The Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) also said that our duty is to protect society, to create a society in which we can all live. That is also my aim; but I firmly believe that crime is becoming more widespread in Canada today, and that murder is becoming more widespread. One can quote the former commissioner of the R.C.M.P. to that effect. Now we have a weak kneed government, a soft government which cannot enforce the will of the country and the wishes of parliament. Members of the government now come to us and say, "Because we are weak kneed, because we are having a lot of internal troubles, we cannot carry out your wishes. We would like you to make the job easier for us. In this bill we will give you a titbit, in the hope that you will let us off the hook and allow us to live with our weaker inner selves."

Anyone who is the prime minister of this country, or anyone who occupies the position of solicitor general has some unpleasant tasks to perform, and to perform those tasks he must be strong. He must be capable of performing the job or he should not be given the job. If he cannot carry out the wishes of parliament, then he should withdraw from his job. If the Prime Minister cannot carry out the wishes of this parliament, then he should not expect to remain the leader of this parliament and of this country. This is the way I look at the matter, and the way most Canadians look at it.

In many positions in life one will find that very distasteful tasks have to be performed. One must measure up to these or else let someone else do them. It is as simple as that. Members of the government cannot come 27053-289

DEBATES 4571

Amendments Respecting Death Sentence back to parliament 18 months after the last capital punishment debate and say, "Please help us out. We are not capable of carrying out your previously expressed wishes. Let us stay in office. Let us hold on to our jobs, but make them jobs we can perform." In other words, they want a little softer task.

This bill proposes a five year trial period, and the house and country are assured that if the bill passes we will not hear any more about the subject for another five years. But if the bill is defeated, who is to say members of the government will not bring in another bill, with another titbit to offer to members of parliament, to retentionists, and to all concerned? To me, a five year trial period is not worth-while because during that period only the lives of policemen and prison guards are to be safeguarded. While I have the greatest respect for policemen and prison guards, I value their lives no more than my own, than those of my family, my children, and of the rest of the people of Canada. The five year trial period does not make the bill any more attractive.

The house has debated this question on a number of occasions. In 1961 it passed legislation differentiating between what is commonly called first and second degree murder, capital murder and non-capital murder. That was a very worth-while and progressive step. I agree wholeheartedly that anyone committing a murder in a fit of passion, or on the spur of the moment should not be sentenced to hang. But anyone who deliberately and cold bloodedly commits a murder should be prepared, and in many cases is prepared, to lose his own life. One has only to think of the number of cases where suicide has followed the committing of the dastardly crime of murder.

The bill passed by the house in 1961 has not been given a fair working trial. If the present bill passes, then what are we to compare it with five years from now? We have no recent figures in Canada for comparison purposes. In 1961 we differentiated for the first time between capital and non-capital murder. That created an altogether different picture with respect to murders committed prior to that date and murders committed since that date. But since 1963 there has been no real application of the 1961 bill, and in my estimation a two year trial period is not long enough.

To summarize, Mr. Speaker, I say a deterrent cannot be effective unless it is carried out. A deterrent hinges on two things. The first is that a person must be apprehended,

4572 COMMONS

Amendments Respecting Death Sentence and I have full confidence in our R.C.M.P.

and other police forces throughout Canada, provincial and municipal. They have as good a record as police forces anywhere else in the world with respect to the apprehension of criminals. I would imagine that anyone about to commit a crime in this country would ask himself: Will I be caught?

The second factor is the punishment itself, whether it be life imprisonment or a death sentence. There is no question in my mind that the death sentence can be an effective deterrent only if the government intends to carry it out; but we know that this government since 1963 has had no intention of carrying it out. Yet in the last three or four years some of the worst crimes ever committed in the history of this country were perpetrated. However, the government had no stomach and was not capable of carrying out its job. Because of this widespread knowledge the deterrent is ineffective.

This bill proposes that the death sentence be supplanted by life imprisonment as the major deterrent. How long is life imprisonment? Last Thursday we were told that the average life imprisonment sentence totals eight years ten months and one day. Is this good enough? At the end of that time those under life sentence are turned loose in society again, and on a number of occasions they have not even been examined by psychiatrists before being released from prisons and mental hospitals.

Only the other day it was stated that there is no psychiatrist serving at the Prince Albert penitentiary, a federal prison, and that there is no psychiatrist in the city of Prince Albert. It can well happen that a person will be paroled without even being interviewed by a psychiatrist. Not so long ago a terrible crime was committed in Saskatchewan. A young man was released from a mental institution, possibly without being interviewed by psychiatrists before being released. In fact I am certain he was not interviewed by psychiatrists, and shortly after his release he committed one of the worst crimes northern Saskatchewan has ever known.

I can tell of an incident in my own constituency. A number of years ago a prisoner was released from Prince Albert, and within two days he did away with his own family, consisting of his mother, his father and three little children. Was that man interviewed by a psychiatrist? Without much difficulty a psychiatrist could have ascertained what his attitudes to society were. Psychiatric services are not available in many of our prisons, and

DEBATES November 22. 1967

I believe life imprisonment is not a good deterrent if it means only eight years ten months and one day.

[DOT] (3:30 p.m.)

This is not a good protection for society because we can be given absolutely no guarantee whatsoever as to the behaviour of these people when they leave the institutions. We can only form a judgment in this regard from what has happened in many cases in the past. I do not particularly blame society for this, because I know it is difficult to ascertain the intention of anyone leaving a mental institution or prison. From past actions, however, our judgment must be that this is not a good protection for society.

Therefore, I have no hesitation in voting against this bill. There is nothing to convince me, as a representative of the people in my area, that by voting for this bill I would be creating a better place for them to live or that I would be in any way protecting them.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING DEATH SENTENCE AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Permalink
RA

David Réal Caouette

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Real Caouelie (Villeneuve):

Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a few words on this Bill No. C-168 before the vote and before the house decides, definitely I hope, on this matter, that is to say capital punishment in Canada.

About a year and a half ago, a free vote was taken in the house and the result confirmed the retention of capital punishment in the country.

Since that time, murders have been committed and in spite of the wish and will of the house expressed by a majority vote, the government has nevertheless seen fit to ignore it, so that there has been no execution in Canada since 1962.

Now, the purpose of this bill is, and I quote:

-to confine the imposition of the death penalty in relation to murder to the murder of police officers and others employed for the maintenance of the public peace, acting in the course of their duties, and to the murder of prison guards and other officers or permanent employees of prisons, acting in the course of their duties, for an experimental period of five years.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that since the practice of commutation was instituted, that is to say since 1962, a period of five years, there have not been any executions in Canada; nevertheless, the number of capital murders has not diminished for all that. Those who intend to kill continue to kill, and they will continue after Bill No. C-168 is passed.

November 22, 1967 COMMONS

For a month, I have been holding a referendum on capital punishment in my constituency; to date, I have received 1316 replies. I asked the people: "Are you for or against the death penalty?" Out of 1316 replies, 754 were in favour of retaining the death penalty, 502 were for abolition and 60 were uncertain, undecided.

Mr. Speaker, this breakdown is strangely similar to that of the first free vote we had in this house, a year and a half or two years ago, on capital punishment.

What I find inconsistent in this bill is that, for a trial period-a period of five years -death sentences will be limited strictly to the murder of police officers, guards and other officers or permanent employees of prisons acting in the course of their duties.

Let us suppose, for instance, that the Prime Minister of Canada, wherever he is, is attacked by a gangster and that his bodyguard is killed. The gangster or killer would then be executed. But if he did not kill the body-guard and the Prime Minister himself were killed, the same killer would be sentenced to life imprisonment. He would not be executed, he would not be hanged.

I find this bill illogical. Besides, the government has all it needs; it has been doing it for five years now. Why come again before the house with this bill when the matter was voted upon democratically in this house? The reasons still hold which moved the members to vote against the abolition of the death penalty a year and a half ago. Moreover, neither gangsters nor murderers have changed in their behaviour.

Now, I agree that the legislation should provide that the guilt of a murderer must be proven beyond any doubt before he is sentenced to hang. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I agree that there is room for improvement in the present act. However, I am not in favour of abolishing capital punishment outright, except for murderers of prison guards or employees. I feel that every Canadian, without exception, is entitled to the same protection, to the same treatment, as any policeman, any prison guard or employee. Simple and elementary justice calls for the same treatment for the whole population.

If a murderer kills a police officer or a prison guard, he cannot be hanged twice, of course, but let him be hanged if the murder is really capital murder and there is not the shadow of a doubt. However, let us do the same in the case of the Prime Minister, a member of parliament, a worker in the 27053-289}

DEBATES 4573

Amendments Respecting Death Sentence Noranda mine, a white collar worker or a farmer. These people are entitled to life just like any police officer or prison guard, and no murderer has the right to make any attempt on anyone's life. Therefore, I submit that Bill No. C-168 should not have been introduced in the house. The vote taken in the house a year and a half ago should have been abided by; it was unequivocal, it seems to me. We had received all explanations; hon. members had expressed themselves freely. Today, some hon. members have changed their minds because, in my opinion, pressure has been put on them. And then they were told: Listen, let's try it for five years. And in five years, the law will stay the way it will be after this bill is passed.

Mr. Speaker, the number of murderers and bandits is increasing in Canada. Today, and for five years now, they tell themselves: No one is hanged, every sentence is commuted to life imprisonment. In the case of life imprisonment, the murderer is paroled after 12, 15 or 20 years. There have been typical cases in Quebec. A man who had murdered a young girl was put in prison, sentenced to death but later on paroled, and he killed four other young people. He was arrested again, imprisoned and sentenced to death a second time, and once again his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. They say: The man was insane. He is jailed and his execution is put off from month to month. It is not put off but the sentence is merely commuted.

Mr. Speaker, the individuals who try to kill their neighbour know what they are doing. Recently, there was a holdup in Rouyn-Noranda, my home town. A gangster broke into the Montemurro and aimed his gun at one of the employees and pulled the trigger. Fortunately, the gun did not go off. There was no shot, but the gangster actually said: I will kill you. He knew exactly what he was doing.

[DOT] (3:40 p.m.)

Mr. Speaker, it is said of those people who are ready to kill anyone, anywhere, even when they are in a tight spot: Oh, they were in a tight spot! Why? Because they had placed themselves in that situation. Those are premeditated assaults, and we are going to pass a legislation which will mean this: Gentlemen, kill whoever you want, except policemen and prison guards, kill the Governor General of Canada, the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Stanfield), the hon. member for Shefford (Mr. Neveu), or anyone else, you will not hang,

4574 COMMONS

Amendments Respecting Death Sentence but keep your hands off a prison guard or a policeman.

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Rallie-ment creditiste are absolutely free to vote according to their conscience. But, as far as I am concerned, I shall definitely vote for the retention of capital punishment, not in a spirit of revenge against the individual who attacks his neighbour or kills someone, but for the sake of justice in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, several persons suggest that hanging is obsolete and horrible. Surely, it is horrible. But what of the bandit who kills the father of 4 or 5 children, for instance, or the criminal who killed two Montreal policemen, in the performance of their duties, after taking the trouble of dressing up like Santa Claus-on the occasion of Christmas, on top of it all-giving young children the impression that Santa Claus can be dangerous since their father was murdered by a bandit dressed up as one?

Mr. Speaker, that murderer knew what he was doing when he dressed up as Santa Claus. He knew very well what he was going to do at the bank he went to rob; he knew very well what he was doing when he shot five or six times with his revolver, or rather with his submachine-gun, the policemen stretched out on the ground. A tommy-gun is not an ice cream cone, nor is it a pair of velvet mitts. He knew the tommy-gun was loaded, what it could cause.

And now, it is going to be claimed that vengeance moves us to sentence him to hang? If that is the way we are going to reason things out, then I say this: Why sentence a thief to five years in a penitentiary? Is it for vengeance that we condemn the thief? Why not close down all the prisons in Canada and say to the thief: We do not want revenge for ourselves, old boy. You stole, yes; only, we want no part in vengeance, and sentencing you to five or ten years in the pen would be vengeance. And so you are free; but try not to repeat your thefts, try not to steal again. Would it be logical to abolish our prison system or judicial system to that extent? Abolishing hanging is the same thing.

The execution of a murderer is no more by way of a reprisal than the sentencing of an armed robber, let us say, to 10 years in jail, with hard labour. It is the same thing. Some will say: Well, we killed him, but it satisfied nobody. Perhaps this is true, but it certainly got rid of a public menace within society. It is in that spirit, Mr. Speaker, that I will vote for the retention of the death penalty.

DEBATES November 22, 1967

I understand the arguments advanced by the Prime Minister the other day and submitted by him to public scrutiny and to the house to influence as much as possible the members on the government side and perhaps also, some members of the opposition. Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, I agree. However, Mr. Speaker, there are serious dangers involved in abolition, or retention of the death penalty only for murderers of policement, jail guards or permanent jail employees while on duty.

At this stage, I repeat what I said earlier. Since 1962, there has been no hanging in Canada. Has the number of murders decreased? No. Bandits remain bandits; murderers continued to kill right and left. Therefore, we have proof that commutations or abolition of capital punishment have not deterred the murderers from killing people around them, when they were in a tight situation, if you like. However, when they are in a tight situation, it is because they decided to get into such a mess. Then, let them suffer the consequences or let them pay for the results of their actions.

Mr. Speaker, the Solicitor General (Mr. Pennell) should not have presented this bill when we have lots of important matters to discuss since there is no hanging pending, at the present time, in short, when all death sentences have been commuted. However, we could have easily-and it was much more urgent-discussed the economic situation which prevails now in Canada in order to improve living conditions and to decrease the number of Canadian citizens who become robbers and bandits for many reasons, but especially because they cannot earn an honest and decent living in their own country. Such things are seen among juvenile delinquents who are willing to work and seeking jobs, who want to prepare their future, but who do not stand a chance and are led astray, commit acts of vandalism and eventually become criminals. That is the situation today.

Mr. Speaker, it is not with pieces of legislation such as Bill No. C-168 that we shall improve the situation in Canada, and the Solicitor General is aware of it and he knows that we have proof in that connection. If someone could give me proof that the number of murders has decreased in the past five years, compared to the five year period before 1962, I would readily accept the bill, but such is not the case. There were just as many murders since 1962 as before that date, when murderers were hanged. Since 1962, no

November 22, 1967 COMMONS

hanging has taken place since all sentences have been commuted. As a result, murderers have kept on killing.

So, Mr. Speaker, capital punishment at times does keep people from murder, from acts of vandalism, out of fear of the noose. When a man does not fear the noose, when he is sure he will only be put in prison, he tells himself that the state will give him bed and board and dress him properly, even if the clothes do have little stripes, but still, he will be dressed decently. Indeed, he will not be cold in winter, nor too warm in the summer. He may even have air-conditioning in some areas. Who knows, after this bill, we may even vote him a new uniform.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING DEATH SENTENCE AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Permalink
?

Rémi Paul

Mr. Prud'homme:

The old army uniforms.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING DEATH SENTENCE AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Permalink
RA

David Réal Caouette

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Caouette:

The old army uniforms; that might help him even more. All this to say that abolishing capital punishment is an injustice toward the wholesome Canadian people, it is pure and simple injustice. That is why I am opposed to such abolition. The five year trial has been made. We have been making it since 1962 and we know the results: Assaults, murders occur every day and every week in Montreal, in Toronto, in Vancouver and in small places, as in the case I mentioned a while ago when an attempt was made right in the city of Rouyn.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING DEATH SENTENCE AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Permalink
RA

Gérard Laprise

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Laprise:

It is worse than in Viet Nam.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING DEATH SENTENCE AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Permalink
RA

David Réal Caouette

Ralliement Créditiste

Mr. Caouette:

My friend from Chapleau (Mr. Laprise) says it is worse than in Viet Nam. It is similar.

[DOT] (3:50 p.m.)

Mr. Speaker, if we are to fight crime, vandalism, there are other solutions than the introduction of inoperative bills, legislation which will not serve the best interests of the people, will give security to bandits at the cost of their freedom, somewhat like behind the iron curtain, but in any case, they will have security. If the bandit is sick in jail, he even benefits from medicare. It costs nothing to be attended by doctors, to enter hospital; and drugs are supplied free! Do you realize that these people will be treated better than most of the honest people in our society?

Mr. Speaker, that is why I shall vote against Bill No. C-168 and I maintain that the government and the Solicitor General should have invited parliament to study bills which would assist the Canadian people as a whole, bills concerning, for instance, the economic or social fields, rather than have us discuss for days and weeks a bill to abolish

DEBATES 4575

Amendments Respecting Death Sentence the death penalty which, besides, has not been applied for five years, since 1962.

The government could have kept on doing the same thing, since nobody ever raised the matter in the house. Furthermore, we could have considered more important and more urgent matters than that. I shall continue to oppose the bill and, although we are forced to discuss it, I wish the minister would revise his stand and send back to the committee Bill No. C-168 for further consideration.

Let the house study it and decide, once and for all, what we could do with it, but only when we have nothing else to do. As long as economic and social matters in our country remain as unstable as they are at the present time and a source of problems as serious as those with which we are faced today, let us stop examining and discussing less important matters, when there are so many important problems to be solved in our country.

That is my point of view, Mr. Speaker, and I think it is shared by several other members. We do not make it a political issue. To us, it is a matter for all Canada, a patriotic matter, if you wish, in brief, a matter of life and death for all Canadians. So, let us put partisanship aside and let us act simply as Canadians; let us work in the best interests of our population. Let us stop this discussion. Let the minister withdraw his bill, and let us start considering measures that will develop our country and make Canadians happier and more aware of the fact that this wealthy country is theirs, that they are the beneficiary of a cultural, economical, political and social heritage, if we, their representatives, take our responsibilities and spend our time in legislating for the welfare of the people, instead of enacting laws that punish them to the benefit of murderers.

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING DEATH SENTENCE AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Permalink
PC

Heath Nelson Macquarrie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Heath Macquarrie (Queens):

Mr. Speaker, I have not yet made up my mind how I will vote on this bill, and it is only recently that I made up my mind that I would make a few comments about it. I agree with those who have suggested that there was in fact no need for this measure to be put before us. It is a matter of just a few months ago when the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) produced a list of impending legislation as long as, if not as wise as, the book of Ecclesiastes. Much of this legislation we have never seen on the order paper, and of much we do not know even the title.

November 22, 1967

4576 COMMONS

Amendments Respecting Death Sentence

I do not say that this measure is not important. Of course it is tremendously important. But I think we are all realistic enough to know that for some time we have had in this country de facto abolition. I think we know, too, that had nothing been brought before this parliament, this government as long as it remained in office for no matter how many more or how few months would have commuted every single death sentence no matter how heinous the crime which brought about the conviction. I think we all know this in our hearts.

There is something slightly unrealistic about what we are doing now, and also perhaps something slightly insulting. I believe all of us 18 months ago gave to this matter the full measure of our thought. We consulted our conscience with sincerity and arrived at our decision only after the deepest reflection. I find it rather disturbing to have the measure thrust before us once again, no election having intervened and the self-same parliament which dealt with the measure some time ago taking it up again.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I must observe as a realist that I have no belief that the government, the executive armed with the commutation authority, is overly solicitous of the attitude of the legislative branch, namely of parliament. I was sorry that the Prime Minister (Mr. Pearson) spoke the other night-

Topic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING DEATH SENTENCE AND LIFE IMPRISONMENT
Permalink

November 22, 1967