Majority of Canadians support the death penalty: poll

Serial killer Clifford Olson in 1996. Most Canadians want to bring back the death penalty for murderers.A new Angus Reid poll released Wednesday, suggests that 63 per cent of Canadians are in favour of reinstating the death penalty.

In particular, Canadians believe capital punishment would be a determent to potential murders and that would save taxpayers the costs associated with keeping our most notorious prisoners locked-up.

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Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976; 33 U.S. states still practice it and, according to Amnesty International, 57 countries around the world do.

Canadians do seem torn on the issue, however.

When the option of life imprisonment — without the possibility of parole — is introduced to the mix we seem to change our tune. When the pollster asked respondents if they support capital punishment or life in prison, the majority of those surveyed chose the latter (45 per cent versus 39 per cent).

The bottom line, I guess, is that Canadians want tougher penalties for those who commit murder.

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Last year, on his website, Sun News columnist and attorney Warren Kinsella admits that he too, at one time, was a proponent of the death penalty but three years in law school changed his mind:

In my first year of law school in Calgary, in Criminal Law, our wonderful prof, Chris Levy, asked us who favoured the death penalty. Most of the hands in the classroom went up.

Here's what Prof. Levy said next: "I will ask you again in your final year."

And he did. In 1987, after three years of trying to learn the law ...Prof. Levy asked again for a show of hands. "Who favours the death penalty, now?"

And not a single hand went up.

What you learn in law school, more than anything else, is how completely flawed our system is. You learn that it is in need of continual improvement, and that it fundamentally flawed, much like the human beings who created it.

The Angus Reid poll was conducted online between March 10th and 11th, 2013 with 1,514 randomly selected Canadian adults. The margin of error is +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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