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capital punishment

Death penalty poll – is this for real?

The Sun media group is all over a poll released today by Abacus Data that 2/3 of we meek and mild Canucks are in favour of killing people to show that killing people is wrong. It is is also noted, however, that less than half (41%) want it formally reinstated.

Putting aside the clear statement of ambivalence expressed by the respondents to the poll – 66% of Canadians support the death penalty “in certain circumstances,” but only 41% want it brought back it back a punishment for murder – I have a few other issues with these numbers.

First, it was a poll of randomly selected adults from an online panel of over 400,000. Web-based polls have an inherent bias that should be acknowledge in any analyses of the results.

I looked at a similar question that was asked by EKOS in March 2010 (sample size of 2,302, phone survey), and the results were more closely aligned with those 40-odd percent who indicated in the Abacus poll that they would want it brought back in legislation.

Forty-six per cent do not support the reintroduction of capital punishment while 40 per cent do. Another 14 per cent said they had no opinion.

Data from 2000 suggests that opinions on this issue have remained relatively unchanged in 10 years. In June of 2000, 43 per cent disagreed with capital punishment while 44 per cent agreed with it.

Those who support the reintroduction of capital punishment tend to be Conservative supporters (53 per cent), residents of Alberta (48 per cent), men (43 per cent), seniors (45 per cent), high school grads (48 per cent) and college grads (46 per cent).

Which begs another question…

Second, where is the regional breakdown in the Abacus poll? There isn’t one. And why is that? Because the sample size is not large enough. A sample of 1,100 will yield you good results at the national level but won’t get you anything provincially. And THAT is where the interesting results would be seen.

For example, will anyone dispute that the likelihood of someone in Alberta supporting the death penalty is greater than someone in, say, Ontario. No, of course not. And where is the CPC base?

Now, I’m not throwing the Abacus polling results out the window. All I am saying is that with polls such as these, one should be very careful about drawing conclusions. The CPC would love everyone to believe that indeed most Canadians are behind Harper after he muses on being “personally” in favour of the death penalty. While in fact, these numbers may be more a case of strong regional bias coupled with the bias inherent in a web-based panel.

Just sayin’…

Of course, a Harperite who reads this will accuse me of liberal bias or some such nonsense… go ahead… throw it at me…

And in case you haven’t noticed, I am. for the record, not in favour of the death penalty.


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Things I’m wondering about…

When is punishment not punishment, but revenge? I was reading a number of the comments on the cbc.ca site that related to the horrendous abduction and murder of that little girl in Woodstock. Not at all surprising was the amount of anger in those comments.  To kill a child is a terrible and evil act and those responsible must be brought to justice.  But many on the site were calling for capital punishment. And again, this isn’t surprising given the nature of this crime.  But is this justice or simple revenge?  As a deterrent, we see by looking to our neighbours to the south that executing criminals doesn’t work.  And are we not letting them off rather easy? Regular readers will know that I’m not a believer in an afterlife per se so I don’t think these animals will be judged at some point after death.

‘Tis better to cage them up for the rest of their lives and effectively rather than literally taking away their right to exist.
I have a button stowed away somewhere that says: Why do we kill people to show that killing people is wrong.

But if my daughter was the victim, would I hold true to these beliefs?

o    Why do the Harperites insist on continuing these ridiculous attack ads? Do they not realise that the only segment of the voting population is that which would have already voted for them in any case? The only folks who believe the rubbish coming from the PMO are those who are one or all of the following:

o    From Alberta
o    From Saskatchewan
o    From B.C, outside of the urban areas
o    Low level of education
o    Rural residents
o    NASCAR fans
o    Robots

Now, don’t anyone flame me for suggesting that all folks from AB are NASCAR-lovin’ rednecks who have a poster of Stevie on their outhouse wall… I don’t mean that!

Anyhow, most of we Canucks are tired of these attacks. Let’s back away from that for a while and show some civility, shall we?

Hey – Justin Trudeau has a nice perspective on this matter too.

o    The Brian Mulroney Commission: Who cares!!! I personally didn’t much like the guy when he was PM but I’m watching the proceedings while sitting on a bike at GoodLife the other day and I watched a full 30 minutes of the “cross-examination” of ol’ Bri explaining that he DID pay taxes on the full amount just NOT in the taxation year in which he was given the funds! What? Is this the best scandal that we Canadians can dream up?

Drop it. There are more juicy things going on, like…

o    The Larry O’Brien criminal trial…. though from the sounds of things, the defence lawyer is tearing Kilrea a new hole on the stand.

I woulda loved to have been there today when Bulldog Baird took the stand.  I cannot stand that guy and would have liked to have seen him squirm a bit.

Is O’Brien guilty? Probably. Will he be judged so? Probably not. But it makes for good entertainment…

o      Lastly… dump Gary Bettman and bring in someone who has an ego smaller than Baffin Island and a hockey sense that is more developed than a Bedouin farmer.

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Reactions to the Greyhound bus horror

Some of the reactions following the horrific incident in Manitoba are worrying and predictable.

Since I blogged about this the other day, I have am seeing posters on blogs and The Mothercorp advocating better security on buses like this fellow did:

” It’s about time that airport security is used on other forms of commercial travel – like trains, and buses. Yes it’s going to cost money, but how much is your life worth?”

As well, there are the predictable calls for the return to capital punishment.

These are knee-jerk reactions that accomplish little but raise the paranoia levels and blood pressures of the readers.

This isn’t a bus safety concern. Greyhounds pick people up in the middle of nowhere. It’s a rural bus stop system as well. How could you screen everyone who boards public transit?? Perhaps if we really do want to descend into a truly Orwellian state where personal security trumps freedom – not to mention common sense – then by all means, descend to your heart’s content.

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