150+ Canadians Day 32: Abolition of the Dealth Penalty

The abolition of the Death Penalty recognized that execution is inappropriate, irrevocable, and often committed in error. #Canada150

Capital punishment existed in various forms in Canada until 1998, when the federal government completely abolished the death penalty.

One of the earliest recorded executions in Canada came in 1749 in newly-founded Halifax. A sailor named Peter Cartcel killed a man and was tried before a general court comprised of Halifax’s governor and six councillors. He was quickly found guilty and hanged two days later. The last Judicial hanging in Canada took place at Toronto’s Don Jail in 1962. 

In 1976, the House of Commons abolished the death penalty for civilian crimes by a majority of six votes. In 1998, Canada eliminated the death penalty for military offences as well.

One of the most infamous miscarriages of justice occurred in 1959 when 14 year old Steven Truscott was sentenced to hang for the murder of a school mate.  He was paroled in 1969.  In 2008 Truscott was found to be innocent and awarded $6.5 million in damages.

Since then several more Canadians have been wrongfully convicted of murder, including Donald Marshall Jr., David Milgaard, Guy Paul Morin, William Mullins-Johnson, Romeo Phillion, Thomas Sophonow and Erin Walsh.

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