Thursday, February 09, 2012
Canadians have witnessed some of the most heinous crimes imaginable. Paul Bernardo. Russell Williams. Clifford Olson. Willie Pickton. Mohammad Shafia.
I don’t need to remind you why they’ve been locked up — it’s all too disgusting to put into mere words.
But you’re still paying for them. Keeping people in jail costs money. They still get a bed and meals and medical treatment when they need it, all funded by taxpayers.
The guilty Shafias will cost Canada $10 million.
What do their victims get? I’ll let you answer that.
It’s been 36 years since the death penalty was abolished by — guess who? — then prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
With new poll numbers from Angus Reid showing majorities in favour of the death penalty across the country, it seems Canadians haven’t completely warmed up to the idea of not having it available.
Let’s take a look at some specifics from the recent Angus Reid poll.
One that interests me is, given the choice between the death penalty and life in prison, 50% of respondents chose the latter. I wonder what they would have said if Angus Reid had asked them if they’d want to put ropes in the prisoners’ cells, as Conservative Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu has suggested.
Also, 75% of respondents who said they were opposed to renewing the death penalty cited fears of wrongful conviction leading to execution as their reason. It’s happened before. There’s no 100% guarantee it would never happen again.
Is that enough to convince me the death penalty wouldn’t be appropriate in select cases when guilt is absolutely irrefutable? I’m afraid not.
But these are real Canadians with real concerns talking. I disagree with their arguments, but I can respect them.
Here’s one argument I can’t respect, from interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel: “The death penalty debate has been closed in Canada for years.
“Why are the Conservatives reopening the whole debate?”
It wasn’t the Conservatives who reopened the debate. Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t stand up in the House of Commons one day to say, “Hey, let’s talk about a bill on the death penalty!”
This all started with the Shafia trial — the trial of so-called “parents” who sentenced their daughters to death for just acting like teenagers.
Boisvenu spoke out because his daughter Julie was a murder victim.
Can you blame him for wanting to see people like the Shafias suffer the exact same fate as his daughter, who never committed a crime?
Turmel is just disappointed because she knows now the debate is not over.
The majority of Canadians side with Boisvenu and the victims of the Williamses and Picktons and Shafias in this country.
You can’t rehabilitate people like them.
If these poll numbers do end up translating into legislation before the House of Commons, so much the better.
But to dismiss them as some Conservative ploy is utterly disrespectful to a majority of Canadians.