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Essay on Capital Punishment in Canada

Capital punishment in Canada was practiced officially to 1976, when it was abolished for all civilian law (in military law death penalty remained to 1998). A double hang of the police murderers Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin was the last in the country, executed in December 1962 in Toronto.

Prior to a criminal reform driven by the John Diefenbaker government in 1961, the death penalty was mandatory for murder in the ordinary trial. The case of Steven Truscott, a 14-year-old who was sentenced to death in 1959, for a sexual murder, however, contributed to strong international criticism. The reform in 1961 limited the death penalty to a range of categories, including prepared murder, which was preceded by violent crime, murder of prison guards and police murder. In 1967, the Lester B. Pearson government restricted the law to two offenses; murder of police officer on duty or prison guard (committed by a prisoner or escape helpers).

In practice, Pearson reform in 1967 is observed as the end point of the death penalty in the country. Both Pearson and Diefenbaker supported the reform. In 1973, the law was extended to while issued death sentences, which had to be summarily converted into prison. The last death sentence to the inmate Mario Gauthier was issued by a court in Quebec in 1976. Capital punishment was abolished the same year, at the initiative of Pierre Trudeaus’ Liberal government in a close vote of 130 against 124 votes. Both the Conservatives and Liberals were split on the issue, while the latter as a whole was tightened to adopt the abolition even formally.

In modern times, a number of notorious murder cases brought the debate on the reintroduction of the capital punishment in Canada; In 1987, then the penalty will put into use in the United States, Canada’s lower house voted to reintroduce the death penalty but failed when even Conservative MPs in particular from Quebec and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney voted against the proposal by voting 127-148 (126 conservative and a liberal order – 55 Conservatives, Liberals and all other New Democratic Party voted against the re-introduction).

Unlike most Western democracies (except Switzerland), Canada is not bound by intergovernmental agreements that do not allows the punishment in use.

Opinion Support for reintroduction during the 2000s tended to exceed 50%, with over 70% of the Provinces of British Columbia, and Alberta. Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed personal support for the death penalty “in some cases” in an interview in 2011, but dismissed reintroduction as unrealistic and unreasonable. Although Harper’s statement can be viewed as normative for the Canadian public, the Harper government, however, has announced that it will continue automatically seek clemency for Canadian citizens sentenced to death abroad (mainly in the USA), which experienced sharp criticism.

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