The trial involving the murder of eight-year-old Tori Stafford, not unexpectedly, has reopened the debate over use of the death penalty in Canada.
In January, the Toronto Star published the results of an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll that showed a majority (61%) of Canadians believed capital punishment is warranted for murder. I’m one of them.
Also, a 2011 Abacus Data survey found that two-thirds of Canadians said they support the death penalty in certain circumstances. Even Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he believes capital punishment is sometimes “appropriate.”
For me it is both a common sense issue and a question of basic justice. Why burden society with the cost of “warehousing” brutal killers like Paul Bernardo, Karla Homolka, Robert Pickton and those who perpetrated the infamous Shafia Murders? And surely the nature of their crimes justifies the forfeiture of these monsters own lives.
Many discount the use of the death penalty because they do not believe it acts as a deterrent. Well, I’m not looking for a deterrent in cases of first degree murder, I’m looking for a punishment and a way of ridding society of these blots on the human race. If the death penalty can do that—and I’m convinced it can—then I’m all for it.
The one argument against capital punishment I find persuasive is the finality of the death penalty. Since we began using DNA in solving crimes, we’ve seen several murder convictions reversed, something that, obviously, could not have happened if those convicted in error had been hanged. I think, however, we could reserve capital punishment for the clear-cut cases with little or no chance of error.
Moreover, think of the victims of those horrible crimes. Have they no right to justice? And what punishment best suits the crime of murder if not the death penalty?
Capital punishment may not be a perfect way for society to respond to the crime of murder, but it is the most just way I know of.