Views on the Death Penalty Mostly Stagnant in Canada

More than half of supporters of capital punishment think it would serve as a deterrent for potential murderers.  

Vancouver, BC [March 11. 2022] – Half of Canadians continue to believe that it is time to bring back capital punishment, a new Research Co. poll has found.  

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 51% of Canadians are in favour of reinstating the death penalty for murder in Canada, while 37% are opposed and 12% are undecided.  

Support for capital punishment is highest among Canadians aged 55 and over (55%), and drops slightly among those aged 35-to-54 (51%) and those aged 18-to-34 (47%).  

More than three-in-five Canadians who voted for the Conservative Party in last year’s federal election (63%) are in favour of reinstating the death penalty for murder in Canada, along with 52% of those who supported the New Democratic Party (NDP) and 49% of those who cast ballots for Liberal Party candidates.  

This year’s findings are in harmony with polls conducted by Research Co. in 2021 and 2020, where 50% and 51% of Canadians respectively backed the return of capital punishment.  

When asked about the suitable punishment for a person convicted of murder, more than a third of Canadians (36%, +2) select the death penalty while a majority (52%, +1) choose life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.  

“For the past three years, there has been consistency when Canadians are asked about capital punishment,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “While about half are in favour of reinstating the death penalty, support drops when the concept of life imprisonment is introduced.”  

A majority of Canadians (54%, +3 since 2021) believe that the death penalty is sometimes appropriate. Smaller proportions of Canadians consider capital punishment as never appropriate (27%, -2) or always appropriate (11%, +1).  

More than half of Canadians who support bringing back the death penalty believe it would serve as a deterrent for potential murderers (57%) and save taxpayers money and the costs associated with keeping a person behind bars (55%).  

Many supporters of capital punishment in Canada also think it is a penalty that fits the crime because a convicted murderer has taken a life (51%) and say it would provide closure to the families of murder victims (49%). One-in-four (26%) believe murderers cannot be rehabilitated.  

Two thirds of Canadians who oppose the death penalty (67%) are concerned about the possibility of a person being wrongly convicted and executed.  

About two-in-five opponents of capital punishment consider it wrong to take a convicted murderer’s own life (42%), doubt that it will work as a deterrent (39%), and call for murderers to do their time in prison, as indicated by a judge (also 39%). Fewer than one-in-five (17%) think murderers can be rehabilitated.

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from February 25 to February 27, 2022, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e]