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1962: Canada's last executions

"You shall be hanged by the neck until you are dead." A judge has uttered these words to 1,300 Canadians. More than 700 of them actually went to the gallows before Canada abolished capital punishment in 1976. But opinions on the noose have tended to shift over time. Protests in the 1960s were met with questions about preventing the murder of police officers and prison guards. Today, the debate is ongoing, especially for multiple murderers like Clifford Olson and Paul Bernardo.

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(low audio) Their crime: murder. Their punishment: death. Shortly after midnight on Dec. 11, 1962, two cop killers will face death by hanging. They will be Canada's last executions. Ronald Turpin, 29, is convicted of shooting a Toronto police constable. Arthur Lucas, 54, is convicted of murdering an FBI informant working in Canada. Fighting the fierce cold, a small group of vocal protesters has gathered outside Toronto's Don Jail.

"Men are dying for mere vengeance," one protester tells a CBC reporter, "when it's not going to accomplish any good at all." Last-minute appeals for clemency fail and Turpin and Lucas become the last two men to be punished by death in this country.
• The death penalty in Canada was formally abolished on July 14, 1976 by a vote of 131 to 124.

• Between 1892 and 1961 the penalty for murders in Canada was hanging.

• The last woman to be hanged in Canada was Marguerite Pitre. She was executed in 1953.

Also on December 11:
1813: Newark, Ontario (now Niagara-on-the-Lake), is burned to the ground by American troops during the War of 1812.
1838: Brewer-entrepreneur John Labatt is born in Westminster Township, Upper Canada (Ontario).
1975: Archbishop Edward (Ted) Scott, the Anglican Primate of Canada, is elected moderator of the World Council of Churches. He served until 1983.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: Dec. 10, 1962
Duration: 1:14

Last updated: October 22, 2014

Page consulted on October 22, 2014

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