‘I disagree with proponents of capital punishment for many practical and legal reasons’

Conservative backbencher Brent Rathgeber explains why he opposes the death penalty.

As with any socially controversial policy, individuals have varied and strongly held viewpoints.  As a result, I fear that a jury, comprised of several death penalty opponents, would be much less likely to convict knowing a Sentencing Judge had a death penalty option following that jury’s finding of guilt.  One can debate which is worse: finding an innocent man guilty or letting a guilty person be acquitted; suffice it to say both need to be minimized for the justice system to be just.

Moreover, I actually believe that in many instances, life in prison without any possibility of parole is actually a “stiffer” and therefore more appropriate sentence than sentencing a prisoner to death.  A libertarian, facing the prospects of spending the rest of his natural life behind bars, might instinctively prefer to reduce the actual time liberty is to be denied.

Stephen Harper said last year he believes “there are times” when the death penalty is appropriate, but that he has no plans to bring the issue forward.

The Canadian Election Study included the death penalty among its various questions about public policy and found the following responses.

Favour 37.8%
Oppose 51.3%
It depends 5.8%
Don’t know 4.1%

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