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:
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
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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-
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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
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
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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.
Subtopic: CRIMINAL CODE
Sub-subtopic: MEASURES RESPECTING PUNISHMENT FOR MURDER AND OTHER SERIOUS OFFENCES