Many people in Canada continue to voice support for the return of capital punishment, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative sample of 1,514 Canadian adults, three-in-five respondents (63%) support reinstating the death penalty for murder, which was eliminated in July 1976. Three-in-ten Canadians (30%) are opposed to this course of action.

The national results are very similar to what was reported in an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in February 2012. This time around, respondents in Alberta (73%) and Manitoba and Saskatchewan (75%) are more likely to endorse capital punishment, while opposition is highest in British Columbia (37%) and Quebec (36%).

Three-in-four Canadians who voted for the Conservative Party in the 2011 election (78%) support the death penalty, while the level of opposition is highest among Liberal Party voters in the last federal ballot (42%).

Most Canadians who support capital punishment do so because they believe that it would serve as a deterrent for potential murderers (58%), save taxpayers money and the costs associated with having murderers in prison (57%), and because they think the penalty fits the crime (53%). Two-in-five Canadian death penalty supporters (39%) think it would provide closure to the families of murder victims, and one-in-five (20%) suggest that murderers cannot be rehabilitated.

A large majority of Canadians who oppose the death penalty (77%) express concern with the possibility of a person being wrongly convicted and then executed, while at least half believe it is wrong to take murderer’s own life as punishment (53%), and suggest that the death penalty would not serve as a deterrent (50%). Fewer opponents believe that murderers should do their time in prison, as indicated by a judge (31%) and that murderers can be rehabilitated (21%).

A plurality of Canadians (45%) would prefer to see a convicted murderer be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, while a smaller proportion (39%) would consent to the death penalty.

On this question, the death penalty is selected primarily by Albertans (47%) and Conservative Party voters in 2011 (49%), while life imprisonment with no parole is regarded as the best choice for a majority of British Columbians (54%) and Liberal Party voters (61%).

Full Report, Detailed Tables and Methodology (PDF)


Mario Canseco, Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion
+877 730 3570

Methodology: From March 10 to March 11, 2013, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 1,514 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.