Mr. J. J. Smith (Moose Mountain):
Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a few comments on this bill which has been presented to the house by the hon. member for Moose Jaw (Mr. Thatcher). I am not a lawyer and I cannot talk about the legal aspects of the bill, but I do believe the bill has considerable merit in it. I think the abolition of capital punishment is something we might well consider in this day and age. I think, too,
that we have considered bills in this house which have had much less merit than this present bill.
I am not too greatly concerned about how a criminal is put to death. I do not think it makes a great deal of difference to one who is going to lose his life whether he is to be guillotined, hanged or sent to the electric chair. 1 understand that in France they still use the guillotine. In Great Britain individuals are hanged for the offence of murder, and in this country we follow that same procedure. In the United States the electric chair is generally used.
My concern in regard to capital punishment is for the immediate friends and relatives of those who are to be hanged. It seems to me that hanging is a pretty cruel death; but again I say that I do not think it makes too much difference to the man who is going to be hanged just what happens to him. He has been found guilty in the courtroom and the judge has said that he will be hanged until he is dead. I do not think the method makes too much difference to the criminal, but I do have in mind possibly parents, a brother or sister or close relatives and friends of that criminal, and I think the effect on them is very important.
The minister has suggested that this matter may be referred to the committee on criminal law and I think in this day and age it is time we looked into capital punishment and, if we are going to continue to have it in this country, see if there might not be a better method. I repeat that my concern is for those who are close relatives of the one who is to be hanged. I have a family, and it seems to me that if one of my sons got into trouble and had to pay that penalty under the law of the country, then it would be some consolation to me, if capital punishment could not be abolished, if we had a more humanitarian way of taking the life of that individual. My hon. friend in front of me says I may be hanged myself, but I will take that chance. In the United States they use the electric chair, and I think that is a more humane way for one to be put to death.
That is all I am going to say and I suppose that the hon. member for Moose Jaw will withdraw his bill. However, if it goes to a vote I will support it.
Topic: CRIMINAL CODE
Subtopic: AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT