Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The politics of capital punishment

The Opposition parties in the federal Parliament are in an "uproar."


Well during a CBC interview, Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared his support for capital punishment in some circumstances but also said he has no plans to make it an issue in the next Parliament.

This  according to the Liberals and NDP is shocking evidence that Prime Minister Harper is waiting to spring some sort of reactionary, right-wing, fascist, "hidden agenda" upon the country.

No doubt, this idea will pop up in Liberal attack ads in the not so distant future.

But is what Harper said really all that scary or shocking?

Years ago, he and I actually talked about capital punishment during our NCC stint together. At the time he said he supported the idea of reviving capital punishment for certain murderers. Paul Bernardo was the guy he had in mind.

Seems to me that's a reasonable position many Canadians would support.

In fact, there are probably lots of Canadians who wouldn't mind bringing back the noose, and they come from across the political spectrum.

That's why from a purely political point of view, the Liberals shouldn't raise this issue. Capital punishment is a hot button issue with lots of emotional intensity and such intensity will drive voters to the polls -- voters who want criminals punished as savagely as possible.

Many a US Republican candidate has been elected on a pro-capital punishment stand.

That's not to say the Harper Conservatives will touch this issue. They don't  have to.

They are winning over the pro-capital punishment crowd in other ways, with their policies of hiring more cops, building more prisons and enacting new "tough on crime" bills.

The only thing the Tories want to execute is a winning political strategy. 


maryT said...

On P&P today, one panelist picked up on Next parliament. What about after that. Is this panel member and Evan admitting that PMSH will lead not only the next parliament but the one after that.

Alain said...

What is even more interesting is why the government, no matter which party is in power, continues to refuse to do a national referendum on the topic along with the promise to abide by the results. Citizens have the right to decide this issue, not a government to whom the mandate was never given.

potato said...

"In fact, there are probably lots of Canadians who wouldn't mind bringing back the noose"

Personally I prefer the guillotine.