June 8, 1976

OFFICIAL REPORT


FIRST SESSION-THIRTIETH PARLIAMENT 25 Elizabeth II


VOLUME XIV, 1976 COMPRISING THE PERIOD FROM THE EIGHTH DAY OF JUNE, 1976, TO THE TWELFTH DAY OF OCTOBER, 1976, INCLUSIVE INDEX ISSUED IN A SEPARATE VOLUME


Published under the authority of the Speaker of the House of Commons by the Queen's Printer for Canada 95570 -U/2 Available from Printing and Publishing, Supply and Services, Ottawa, Canada K1A 0S9



Tuesday, June 8, 1976


GOVERNMENT ORDERS

CRIMINAL CODE


The House resumed, from Monday, June 7, consideration of the motion of Mr. Allmand that Bill C-84, to amend the Criminal Code in relation to the punishment for murder and certain other serious offences, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.


PC

A. Daniel McKenzie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Dan McKenzie (Winnipeg South Centre):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to continue with my remarks on Bill C-84 which I commenced last night. Last evening I suggested that the abolitionists should become jail guards; I think they would then find out first hand what a precarious occupation it is, especially when dealing with dangerous murderers like Lucas and Kelly.

I was commenting last night on Donald Kelly's latest escapade when he attempted escape from jail with a toy gun. I was pointing out that it was not only a toy gun, it was a gun plain and simple. If a fake gun can be smuggled into or manufactured in a prison cell, then just as easily can a real one. As romantic as he may be at a distance, Kelly is a convicted murderer with experience in prison breakouts. It was only a fluke that he was unable to take a hostage, a procedure for which a toy gun concealed is every bit as effective as a real gun exposed. His overnight seige in the North Bay jail might have ended in an escape or shoot-out; had the gun been real it almost certainly would have. North Bay was lucky this time, but that is all the more reason to ensure that there is no second incident. How did Kelly obtain the gun? Why was he in a cellblock area when he should have been in his cell? Only a thoroughgoing investigation will provide the answers and I think they should be provided promptly.

Members of parliament have received letters from psychiatrists with regard to dealing with these dangerous murderers. I should like to quote from a letter I received from two psychiatrists in New Westminster, British Columbia:

Dear Sir:

We are writing to recommend that you decide upon and vote in favour of retention of the death penalty. We also recommend that you use your influence to ensure that it is implemented where there are no extenuating circumstances to warrant stay of execution. More humane and acceptable methods than hanging should also be considered.

This is a matter I have raised on two occasions in the House of Commons. I presented a motion to the effect that this subject be transferred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, where we could hear witnesses and discuss alternate methods to the rope. I feel that if we did find a more humane method of executing a murderer, maybe some of the abolitionists would reconsider, but unfortunately my motion was turned down by the Liberals. These two psychiatrists go on to say this:

Both of us were born and grew up in the heartland of Canada. We are well qualified psychiatrists who have spent the past twenty-five years interviewing and treating Canadians from all walks of life. We feel that this background and experience qualifies us to offer you an opinion on this subject, and that we have both a professional and social responsibility to do so.

That is the opinion of two psychiatrists, Mr. Speaker. They say plainly and simply that rehabilitation is impossible in many cases.

Recently there was a news article containing comments by two leading psychiatrists who are experts when it comes to dealing with dangerous criminals. They say that it is better to hang killers than to introduce long prison terms with no hope of parole. Dr. Elliott Barker, who developed Ontario's treatment program for the criminally insane at one of our big mental hospitals, and Dr. Barry Boyd, medical director of the hospital, have said that they are opposed to capital punishment but that the death penalty is a lesser evil than mandatory sentences of up to 25 years as proposed by the federal government.

Among the numerous communications relating to capital punishment that I have received in the past few weeks are many from people who are of the opinion that Bill C-84 symbolizes the permissiveness that they believe is a threat to their safety. To many people it symbolizes a soft-on-crime attitude that is only encouraging further violence. The vast majority of Canadians are calling for a change in attitude and direction.

I wish to make it clear from the outset that I believe capital punishment should be retained in all cases of premeditated murder and other extreme types of murder. I have on several occasions spoken and voted in favour of the retention of capital punishment, and that will be the tenor of my remarks today. There are those who claim that, as a result of nearly a decade of debating capital punishment in parliament, Hansard is full of every conceivable argument for or against capital punishment. Perhaps that is so, but the fact of the matter remains that the murder rate has been consistently increasing and the public is not satisfied with the solutions offered by the government.

A strong conviction is growing among Canadians that we need the death penalty as one way of reversing the permissive trend of the past decade. Indeed, every national survey has indicated that a vast majority favours the retention of capital punishment, including surveys commissioned by this government. Yet, rather than asking

June 8, 1976

Capital Punishment

themselves why so many people are calling for the restoration of the death penalty, the abolitionists continue to vilify these people. Abolitionists should ask themselves why so many good, decent, law abiding people desire a continuation of the death penalty. These people are not cruel, but they are concerned and they are demanding that their government and parliament become concerned too.

Advocates of abolition have never claimed that public opinion is with them. They seem to be satisfied with in playing the role of an elitist minority, and speak as if the desire to retain the death penalty shows some kind of blood lust or a perverse sadism. Very few people would find much pleasure in the sight of someone being executed. The public wants protection, it does not want cruelty. Most individuals want to serve notice on the criminal element that society is prepared to defend itself. They cannot receive such assurances from the legislation presently before parliament.

Everyone knows full well that Bill C-84 is a nothing bill which will do nothing to reverse the trend towards violent crime in this country. I am opposed to this legislation, not out of a burning desire to invoke the death penalty, but because I see Bill C-84 as one more step down the road of permissiveness. The death penalty is, indeed, a subject being discussed widely these days. During the past few months the print and electronic media have been flooded with commentary on capital punishment.

One of the questions confronting Canadians everywhere, and especially those of Christian persuasion is, is it ever morally right for government to take the life of a human being who has murdered. Christians are, of course, divided on this subject, though a candid examination of the Bible shows that both the old and new testament support it. There are those, of course, who claim to have religious objections to capital punishment but avoid the practical consideration of the command "Thou shalt not kill". Thou shalt not kill is better translated as, you shall not murder. It should be clear to every thinking person that while murder is always killing, killing is not always murder. Capital punishment is killing but it is far from murder. To say thou shalt not kill as an argument against capital punishment is a flagrant misrepresentation of scripture. The Bible says society has a right to put a murderer to death. Numerous people in my riding believe that the current government is not fulfilling its moral obligation to society or its Christian obligation to God.

Naturally one has to ask just what the retention of the death penalty would do. Abolitionists would argue that abolition does not result in crime run rampant, or social peace if the death penalty is restored. They would argue that capital punishment has no deterrent value whatsoever. With that kind of an elitist argument they ignore the real issue at hand. A former Chief Justice and President of the United States, William Taft, once said:

The abolition of the death penalty is a mistake. It certainly is a deterrent for crimes of bloody violence.

In looking at the deterrent factor one must consider it as an attempt to save innocent lives in the future and not, in isolation, in relation to the fate of the guilty murderer. This very parliament considered capital punishment a suf-

ficiently effective deterrent to reserve it for the protection of policemen and prison guards during the five-year moratorium. I have never heard it said that capital punishment is no deterrent to murder. The only question anybody raises is whether it is an effective or significant deterrent. Perhaps we should look at the deterrent factor from the point of view of whether capital punishment would prevent all murders. I think not. Surely, we could not expect that any more than a 25-year sentence in prison would stop murder.

In speaking of the 25-year prison sentence, one has to seriously consider the possibility that such a law could be amended or even repealed at any time. Such a law is no guarantee that society will be protected from the criminal element. In all seriousness, I wonder how effective the 25-year sentence would be and how strictly it would be enforced. Given this government's lax track record I would suggest it would be a risky venture. In this debate one could quote reams of statistics, but he will find the common sense of most Canadians leads them to believe that the threat of the death penalty is a deterrent. It is superficial to even suggest that the threat of capital punishment has no deterrent value.

There are those who would suggest that capital punishment brutalizes society. So, however, does murder and that fact is seldom mentioned. The people of this country would not, I am sure, hesitate to say that a properly carried out execution is less brutalizing than murders reported in the press with the brutal headlines that read: Elderly couple hacked to death with axe; Four children slaughtered by prison escapee; Young woman raped and strangled; Thirteen shot in gangland rampage, and numerous others of a similar character.

It is the growing number of brutal murders that cause the obvious reaction when abolitionists pose the question, would you go and witness an execution? The answer is: Yes, but only if you will accompany the police to the bloody scene of a violent murder in which the victim was beaten, mutilated, knifed or shot. One would then ask which was the more brutal scene. A great deal of the apprehension and opposition to the death penalty is based on revulsion against the gruesome aspect of hanging. In this day and age the medical profession is capable of devising methods which are not only painless but also certain and efficient.

On April 1 I spoke in favour of having the subject of capital punishment referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs to find a more humane way of applying capital punishment. I still stand by that suggestion. I do so because of two overriding concerns: First, the majority of Canadians favour retention; and, second, many people consider hanging barbaric. Some abolitionists say it is asking too much of anyone to enforce capital punishment. I contend that the responsibilities of office carry with them the responsibility of carrying forward the administration of justice.

The death penalty represents the final right of organized society to rid itself of those who will not conform in any respect to civilized life. Such people are a minority and are not to be confused with others who might take a life in a moment of passion. There are those abolitionists who would lead people to believe that those who favour reten-

June 8, 1976

tion want a blanket imposition of capital punishment. That is a falsehood. The vast majority of Canadians are normal citizens who find the death penalty a distasteful subject to discuss. Common sense warns them that the removal of the final right of society to carry out the supreme punishment tells the criminal that no matter how horrible and vicious the crime, his own life will be protected.

Several weeks ago I mentioned that in the many letters and phone calls I have received from constituents they share with me their concerns about being safe and that their children will grow up in a safe society. At that time I quoted Mr. William Gold, of the Calgary Herald, who described the type of individual society fears when he wrote:

Contemporary society is producing a singularly savage type of animal, entirely lacking in comprehension of, or respect for, the lives of other people. These psychopaths know perfectly well what they are doing is wrong legally and morally, but the act of murder causes them no sense of personal revulsion.

Society wants guaranteed protection from that sort of individual because who can say where he will strike next.

I have always rejected the notion that society seeks vengeance. I call it simple justice and a desire for safety. Capital punishment has been upheld through the centuries because of the commitment of society to the sanctity of life. It is a principle of law that the penalty must in some way fit the crime. That is the basis of having a penal code.

The death penalty is based on the belief that taking a life is so great an offence it requires the supreme penalty. Having regard to the qualms of those who cringe at the death penalty, Hon. Ernest Manning made a very pertinent observation as follows:

In this respect there is evident in society today a strange and indefensible inconsistency. Many of those who are the most vocal in demanding the abolition of the death penalty because they hold it to be morally wrong to put a murderer to death are frequently the same people who are champions of abortion on demand. In other words, they argue it is morally right to deliberately destroy the life of an unborn innocent child, but it is morally wrong to exact the death penalty in the case of a murderer who has deliberately taken the life of another human being.

Such reasoning is beyond me. If our country is to be consistent about the state's right to impose the death penalty, then we must reject the idea that it is legalized murder. If that were the case a soldier defending this country in war and a policeman using his gun in the line of duty would be guilty of legalized murder. I doubt very seriously if anyone in this House would be ready to say that we should disarm our army and police.

Mr. Speaker, in the numerous articles I have had the opportunity to read on the issue of capital punishment I have searched for the one argument, the one statistic, the one tidbit of new information which could somehow shed new light on this debate. The fact of the matter is that as individuals we have been too concerned about statistics to meet the real issue head on. That issue is that we, as elected representatives of the Canadian people, have a moral responsibility to deal with capital punishment. I for one will not shrink from that responsibility.

Throughout history as organized nations emerged it has been recognized that society has the right to impose any kind of penalty on any offender against the law. In every

Capital Punishment

case where the law is broken there is a penalty of some sort. A state that can incarcerate an offender for 25 years surely is capable of applying capital punishment. In the discussions concerning murders we hear such comments from abolitionists as, "the murderer is a product of his environment" and, "society must show some degree of sympathy". It worries me, Mr. Speaker, that we might be heading down a road of uncontrolled permissiveness that would have us take the easy way at the expense of public safety. How much sympathy I wonder has been shown for the family and friends of the victims of ruthless murderers.

Even if parliament does pass Bill C-84 and abolishes capital punishment, I believe that every citizen of this country should ask the government in a resounding chorus: What are you going to do about your soft-on-crime record? This government has gone too far in its efforts to appease an elitist minority who have no concern about crime run rampant. Time and time again we have seen this government shirk its responsibility in the field of law enforcement.

In the area of law enforcement, Mr. Speaker, I would like to briefly mention one segment of our society which will be especially endangered by the abolition of capital punishment,-our police and prison guards. There was a time when the boys in blue were held in high regard, indeed respected, and it was the boyhood dream of many to some day be a policeman. In view of the way our law enforcement officers are being hindered and threatened, must we say that those law enforcement officers who die in the course of duty will do so in vain! I should hope not.

The Nuremburg trials, Mr. Speaker, showed the world that no one can shrug off responsibility. The free nations had a responsibility to show the cold-blooded Nazis that wholesale murder will not be tolerated, so we must tell the criminal element that murder will not be tolerated in Canada. This parliament will not solve the problem of the cancer of crime by merely voting for or against capital punishment, but I contend that a vote for retention will be the beginning of an all-out battle against the ills of crime.

Now that I have put to this House my reasons for asking for the re-instatement of capital punishment I wish to return to the subject of public opinion and the will of the public. Some day all of us who have been elected to this parliament will be judged on our decisions in regard to bill C-84 and indeed on the attitude that we have towards crime. We live, supposedly, in a democratic society in which the government must express the will of the people. It certainly is a sad commentary on the members of the government when their arrogance makes them believe they are more knowledgeable than the vast majority of people. When this happens I fear that we have only seen the beginning of rule by elitist minorities.

As we head toward a decision on capital punishment I hope that every member of this House takes into account that this is not only a vote for or against capital punishment but that it will determine the attitude and direction of this country in years to come in regard to crime. A society without the ultimate protection might some day find itself in the sad state where the law of the jungle rules. When I say that, I can almost hear the professional liberals accusing me of being a prophet of doom. I believe

June 8, 1976

Capital Punishment

the time has come to stop lulling the Canadian people into believing everything will be fine if only they blindly follow. I for one have more faith than that in my fellow citizens. I would certainly derive no pleasure or satisfaction from saying I told you so, but I do wish that this parliament would face the fact that our society is not perfect, that crime does exist, and finally that we do have a responsibility to fight crime. Mr. Speaker, let us express the will of the people and continue capital punishment.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink
?

Mr. J.-J. Blais@Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Privy Council

Mr. Speaker, lest I be accused of benefitting from yesterday's order to prolong this debate, I will be very brief. My primary intention in rising is to correct an impression that was left by the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre (Mr. McKenzie) when he indicated that the Donald Kelly case, as I see it in Hansard, almost bankrupted the municipality. I trust he was speaking of North Bay. Mr. Speaker, I should like to indicate for the record that the total cost of that chase was somewhere in the vicinity of $101,000, $92,000 of which was paid by the province of Ontario. Out of a total budget of $20.5 million for the city of North Bay, even if the Province of Ontario had not paid the amounts to which I have referred, surely there was no indication of an insolvency on the part of North Bay, a city by the way which is on a very sound financial basis and enjoying a fruitful economic life as well as a social life.

Also I should like to place on the record my intention to support the government's bill in this instance.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink
LIB

Jean-Jacques Blais (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Blais:

I have listened with a great deal of attention to the arguments advanced by the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre. I have heard those arguments before. I am not persuaded by them and I am sure he has not been persuaded by the arguments advanced by the abolitionists from whichever side of the House they may have been made.

In order to shorten my remarks I would simply adopt those arguments which have been advanced by the abolitionists that an act of hanging or execution, whether public or private, is in effect a collective act of violence. By such an act society condones violence and by condoning encourages it. I could not accept such a collective act of violence. Secondly, I am persuaded that capital punishment does not act as a deterrent in any sense. Statistics have been presented on both sides of that argument. I am persuaded it is not a deterrent.

The third argument flows directly from that, namely that I can see capital punishment in instances where it would be required as a means of self-defence, that is a method of self-defence available to society. I fail to see, when we have one of the most advanced systems of criminal justice and one of the most elaborate and sophisticated systems of the administration of justice, that indeed collective killing can serve as a means of self-defence.

Those are my comments. I will not vote in favour of capital punishment. I am pleased that the government has presented in this instance a bill proposing total abolition and I commend it for that measure.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink
PC

A. Daniel McKenzie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McKenzie:

Mr. Speaker, may I speak on that point of order?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink
LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

Order, please. Is the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre asking a question?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink
PC

A. Daniel McKenzie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McKenzie:

I did not hear the hon. member's original remarks. Was he speaking on a point of order?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink
LIB

John Napier Turner

Liberal

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Turner):

No. He was recognized as a speaker for a short period of time.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink
PC

A. Daniel McKenzie

Progressive Conservative

Mr. McKenzie:

Mr. Speaker, may I speak on a point of order? I will apologize and withdraw the remark about bankruptcy in the honourable area of North Bay, but the area certainly was subjected to some financial problems. I believe the latest news reports show that the city is trying to negotiate more funds from the Ontario government to help pay for the excessive police costs. I will put this on the record and withdraw the bankruptcy statement.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink
LIB

Jean-Jacques Blais (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Blais:

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point to indicate that there is a dispute between the provincial authorities and the municipal authorities relating, I believe, to some overtime costs and statutory payments amounting to $9,000. However, that is a very small amount in comparison with the total budget of the police commission of $9.2 million.

While I am on my feet, I should like to indicate that indeed in rising I did not wish to demonstrate bravado in response to those of my constituents who have indicated that they wished me to support capital punishment. I would simply like to say that I have received correspondence from both sides, from those who wanted me to support capital punishment and from those who wished me to support the bill now before the House. I have dealt with them both on the same basis. I indicated to them that in accordance with parliamentary tradition my responsibility is to exercise my judgment in accordance with my conscience. If we agree that there is to be a free vote on this bill in the absence of whips, which means that hon. members will vote in accordance with their consciences freely and openly, then that is the way in which I intend to vote.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink
PC

William C. Scott

Progressive Conservative

Mr. W. C. Scott (Victoria-Haliburton):

Mr. Speaker, I will not say in my opening remarks that it is a pleasure to be able to speak today on Bill C-84. It has never been a pleasure for me to rise in this House and discuss the pros and cons of the death penalty. However, I feel now as I have always felt that it is my responsibility to take part in these debates. It is my responsibility as a member of parliament, my responsibility to my constituents, and my responsibility to myself as a concerned Canadian.

I call again on the government to reinstate the death penalty for premeditated murders. I do so in the full knowledge that it is the will of the great majority of Canadians that we take drastic and serious measures to protect them from those people in our society who would take the life of another. I ask for the reinstatement of the death penalty for capital murder not because I have a low regard for life, but rather because I have such a high regard for life. I believe sincerely that we in the House

June 8, 1976

have a higher responsibility to the law abiding citizens of Canada than to those who take the law in their own hands.

Our responsibility is all the greater in that we cannot pass the buck along to someone else, and wipe our hands of the unpleasant duty of making a firm decision on this matter. The buck stops right here. It is an awesome responsibility to have to assume the responsibility of deciding whether or not a person convicted of deliberate, premeditated murder, should pay with his or her own life. I have never pretended that it is easy to say simply that someone or other must die by order of a court, and ultimately by order of the parliament of Canada.

We can make it easy though, if we want to, Mr. Speaker; we can say that state-ordered executions are murders in themselves, and pass the buck along to our courts, our prison system, our parole boards and along to the sociologists and criminologists and the rest of the bleeding hearts. We can wash our hands of this matter easily enough, and in fact the cabinet has been doing just that since the majority of members in this House decided several years ago to adopt this government's compromise solution to the problem of capital punishment. We decided that only murderers of policemen or prison guards should suffer the death penalty, but although several death penalties have been imposed by our courts under that law, not a single penalty has been carried out. The cabinet has commuted every sentence imposed during that period.

I said that we could make it easy on ourselves by passing along the responsibility for making a decision on capital punishment, Mr. Speaker, but that is not the same as saying that we have a moral right to do so. We know that no one else will make a decision, even if we were able to give them the authority. We know that everyone else, except our courts, takes the easy way out by adopting the holier-than-thou position of opposing capital punishment on moral grounds. This great liberal morality does not extend to the victims of murderers, however; it extends only to the murderers, as though they suddenly become a part of some higher civilization, or a cult of people who are above the law and above the condemnation of the very society against which they have raised their hand.

I maintain that we cannot avoid the moral responsibility before us any longer, Mr. Speaker. We must make a decision without too much delay that we will not and cannot look upon deliberate and premeditated murder as anything but what it is. Wilful murder and treason against one's own country are capital crimes. The argument that a civilized and sophisticated society does not condone state-ordered executions does not hold water. As the member for Frontenac-Lennox and Addington (Mr. Alkenbrack) pointed out'a few days ago in this House, a state that maintains a judiciary like ours, with its avenues of appeal and our reverence for justice, cannot commit murder.

Some people have used the argument that the state commits murder if it sentences its own citizens to death for capital crimes, but I consider that argument to be feeble and baseless. I consider it to be a cop-out. If the time comes when we consider murder and treason to be less than capital crimes, then I think that our days as a free and democratic country are numbered. When we decide that we do not want to fight back, that we do not consider it important to win the war that is being waged within our

Capital Punishment

country between the law abiding and the lawless, then this great country of ours from that time on will be less than great.

When we are elected to parliament, those who vote for us must surely believe that we are capable and competent, and that we have the courage to make decisions and stick by them, no matter how distasteful those decisions might be to us personally. Not all of the decisions that we make here can be entirely to our liking. The alternatives to avoiding unpleasant decisions usually are more unpleasant in the long haul, and this is one of the reasons I insist that capital crimes in our society must carry the death penalty. The alternative that has been proposed by the government, 25 years in prison, has already incurred the wrath of the do-gooders and the social experts. They say that this is just as inhuman and inhumane as the death penalty. They wonder out loud how any civilized society could even think of caging up one of its own citizens for 25 years. Of course, Mr. Speaker, none of these experts and bleeding hearts propose any credible alternatives to the death penalty, or to the longer prison sentence. The best they can do is to condemn our proposals, and renounce our decisions.

When this House adopted the government's compromise solution to the question of capital punishment, it was a trade-off. In place of abolition we adopted selective capital punishment for murderers of policemen and prison guards. This presumably satisfied the abolitionists and the reten-tionists as well. The abolitionists could feel satisfied that the majority of murderers would escape the noose, and that in the cases where the death penalty applied, there was always the possibility that the cabinet would commute the sentences of convicted murderers of police officers. They had everything going for them, including a justice minister who was a public-avowed abolitionist.

On the other hand, the retentionists believed that the government would live up to the mandate of parliament. We believed that the government would honour their own commitment to execute convicted murderers of policemen and prison guards in exchange for this limited application of capital punishment. The fact is that they did not live up to their mandate from parliament, and they did not honour their own commitment. We have de facto abolition of capital punishment, and this speaks louder than anything else I can think of against the conscience of this government.

The trade off did not work, except to get the Minister of Justice (Mr. Basford) and the Solicitor General (Mr. All-mand) off the hook. I have always maintained that we do not have a moral right to engage in trade offs on an issue as important to our society as capital punishment. We have a moral responsibility to face this issue head on, and if we are called to make an unpleasant decision or if we are called upon to decide that persons convicted of a deliberate murder should pay with their own lives, then we must do that and live with our decision. It would take a lot more courage to do that than just to pass the buck along, but I hope that we possess that much courage.

During the years that the capital punishment issue has been before parliament many members have suggested

14250

June 8, 1976

Capital Punishment

that this is a matter for the people of our country to settle by way of a national referendum, and I am one who believes that this is the only way it can be settled once and for all. In a survey conducted recently by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association 55,282 people responded that the issue of capital punishment should be decided by a national vote, while only 3,444 felt that it should be decided in a forum such as the House of Commons. In this survey 55,374 people said they believed that capital punishment should be applied in the case of anyone convicted of the murder of any citizen during the commission of a crime. I would take this a step further and say that the act of premeditated murder is the crime which is being committed, and so I cannot distinguish between this premeditated murder and a murder committed during another type of crime.

The hon. member for Provencher (Mr. Epp) pointed out in his remarks on Bill C-84 that the abolitionists are playing down the overwhelming public support for capital punishment. The abolitionists say that we should not be influenced by the opinion polls which have been conducted on this subject around the country by various groups and agencies. If the polls were to show that the majority of Canadians were opposed to capital punishment, we would see and hear an awful lot of statistics from the abolitionists. However, they and we know that the polls show that anywhere from 75 per cent to 95 per cent of Canadians want to return to capital punishment, and the majority of them want a return to capital punishment for all premeditated murder.

The survey conducted by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Association indicates that 87.6 per cent of the 68,745 people responding to the poll favour a return to the death penalty. In my own riding of Victoria-Haliburton, of the people who contacted me on this subject, 95.66 per cent were in favour of retaining the death penalty for the crime of murder. They are concerned about the alarming rise in violent crime in Canada today. These people are concerned about the fact that the murder rate in Canada has doubled in the past ten years, and that is the actual rate per 100,000 people, as noted by the hon. member for Provencher.

The government has only itself to blame for the present public demands that we reinstate the death penalty for all types of premeditated murder. This government was given a mandate by parliament ten years ago, and this was reaffirmed four years ago. That mandate was about as simple and straightforward as a mandate could be. It called for the death penalty for murderers of police officers and prison officials, but as has been pointed out over and over again in these debates, not one convicted murderer of a policeman or prison guard has been executed.

In every speech I have made on this subject I have asked why there are so many people in our society, in the government and in the private sector who rush to the defence of murderers, while the victims of those murderers are ignored, forgotten and in most cases hardly even given a thought. I agree with those who say that executing a murderer will not bring his victim back to life, but I am convinced that it would serve notice on others who might plan to commit murders that the price is high, too high to make it worth the chance of being caught. I am one of

those who feels that the death penalty would be a deterrent to premeditated murder.

I must add my voice to those who ask where our society is going. I join the chorus of those who ask how we could devote so much time and effort to securing the comfort and wellbeing of those convicted of murder and other violent crimes. It is obvious from the volume of mail which all members of parliament are receiving on this subject that the Canadian people are concerned about the kind of society this government is creating in Canada, and it is just as obvious that the great majority of Canadians are not prepared to accept that kind of society.

Much has been said about the manner in which the government should execute murderers, and I know that many people feel uncomfortable about even discussing methods of implementing the death penalty. I share that feeling to some extent, but I do not allow it to influence my thinking on the necessity for applying the death penalty. If anyone has such strong feelings about the inhumanity of hanging, then let us establish first of all that the death penalty will be retained and then seek an alternative to hanging as the method of applying the penalty.

I would like to say a few words about the study commissioned by the Solicitor General on capital punishment. Judging by the negative results the minister obtained from the report on that study, I suggest that the minister would like to forget the report. However, the fact is that the minister did commission a known abolitionist criminologist, a person who presumably came to Canada from Egypt and who quite obviously does not know very much about Canadians to make this study. This criminologist, Ezzat Fattah, who now teaches at Simon Fraser University, was apparently quite upset to learn that his own survey revealed that 70 per cent to 80 per cent of Canadians favour a return to the death penalty for all types of murder.

Mr. Fattah then proceeded to write in his report that these people are vindictive, bloodthirsty, unforgiving, uneducated, insecure, ignorant and harbouring right wing political sentiments. He had other unpleasant things to say about Canadians who feel that those who commit brutal and vicious premeditated murder should pay with their own lives. Mr. Fattah's bias destroys any credibility and any value his report might have had, and I simply put it down as a disgusting spectacle. I must add that I am appalled that the Solicitor General would associate his name and his high office with the report.

By way of contrast I would like to read into the record a few comments which I have received from constituents. A doctor whose son was killed by one of the participants in a fight wrote me a letter which will stick in my mind for as long as I live. The son was an innocent victim, was, in fact, almost a block away from where the fight was going on and was struck by a bullet meant for someone else. The doctor was on duty at his hospital and when his son was brought in hon. members can just imagine his shock at seeing that it was his son realizing that he did not stand any chance of surviving the gunshot wound. The son died in his father's arms, and it is very likely that the murderer will be back on the streets before we resolve this issue of capital punishment. The doctor said in his letter that he was afraid that many hon. members would vote on Bill C-84 according to their own consciences rather than

June 8, 1976

according to the consciences of the thousands of Canadians in their ridings.

Another letter, signed by 12 responsible and respected constituents, states that opinion polls indicate that the vast majority of Canadians want a return to capital punishment for capital murder as a deterrent to the rise in terrorism and murder. Another writer says that Canadians are not motivated by a wish for revenge when they demand the return of the death penalty, but rather because they realize that a law is only as strong as the penalty prescribed and imposed for infractions of that law. Still another writes: "I wonder how the Solicitor General would feel about coddling murderers if some of his own kin were murdered."

In conclusion, I would like to point out that there is a very great concern in our country that murder will become a status symbol among criminals if we continue to allow murderers to escape the consequences of their actions. As we lessen the severity of the penalties for violent crimes, and especially murder, the commission of murder is not the risky business that it ought to be. I am concerned about the evidence that already exists that cop killers are considered peers among the criminal fraternity. It is a sad commentary upon our government when it becomes a symbol of status in a segment of our society to be convicted of beating up a policeman, or even murdering a policeman.

We can remove this status symbol through the simple expedient of executing these people. It would not take more than one or two executions to eliminate this cancer from the side of our society. I say to this government that, while it would be an extreme measure, we cannot do any less than that if we are to live up to the mandate that we have been given by the people of Canada, a mandate from parliament is a mandate from the people. We cannot ignore them.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink
?

Some hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic:   MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES
Permalink

June 8, 1976