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Abolition upheld

"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.

Members of Parliament vote against reinstating the death penalty in 1987. The vote upholds a 1976 decision to abolish capital punishment in Canada. The results are: 148 against, 127 in favour. A handful of Progressive Conservative MPs decide at the last moment to vote against the death penalty. In a CBC Television broadcast, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney says it's an excellent day for parliamentary democracy.

But disappointed Peterborough MP Bill Domm says the majority of his constituents are not spoken for here today: "I don't intend to ever give up representing 70 per cent of my constituents."
. The 1987 parliamentary vote upheld Canada's decision to abolish the death penalty in 1976. The "reaffirmation vote" makes it twice as difficult for future reinstatement attempts.
. Since the 1987 decision, national polls show a drop in public opinion favouring capital punishment. An Ipsos-Reid poll found 52 per cent supported reinstatement in 2001, down from the 73 per cent that favoured the death penalty in 1987.

. Ottawa's Carleton County Gaol where one of Canada's last public hangings took place is now a youth hostel. The gallows still exist on the east side of the jail.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: June 30, 1987
Guest(s): Bill Domm, Gerald Merrithew, Brian Mulroney, Svend Robinson, John Turner
Reporter: David Halton
Duration: 2:28

Last updated: February 7, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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