government: constitutional monarchy that is also a parliamentary democracy and a federation
state of civil and political rights: Free
constitution: 17 April 1982; Charter of rights and customary norms
legal system: based on English common law, except for Quebec, where the system is founded on French law
legislative system: bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate and the House of Commons
judicial system: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the Prime Minister through the Governor General; Federal Court of Canada; Federal Court of Appeal; Provincial Courts
religion: Roman Catholic 42.6%, Protestant 23.3%, other Christian 4.4%, Muslim 1.9%, other
year of last executions: 0-0-0
death sentences: 0
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (aiming to the abolition of the death penalty)
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
Death by hanging was the penalty for murder in Canada between 1892 and 1961.
In 1966, the government passed a bill that limited capital punishment to the killing of on-duty police officers and prison guards.
In 1976, the House of Commons abolished capital punishment from the Criminal Code and replaced it with a mandatory life sentence of 25 years for those convicted of first-degree murder.
Capital punishment for military offences was abolished on December 10, 1998.
In 1987, a vote in the House of Commons reaffirmed the abolition of the death penalty. Members voted 148 to 127 in favour of not reinstating capital punishment.
The last execution was in 1962. At two minutes after midnight on December 11, 1962, two men, Arthur Lucas and Robert Turpin, were hanged standing back-to-back at Toronto's Don Jail. They were the 709th and 710th people to be put to death since capital punishment was enacted in 1859.
For years Canada was the only western country that regularly handed over suspected criminals to the United Sates and other countries without asking for guarantees against execution.
The Supreme Court's ruling on the Burns and Rafay case, issued on February 15, 2001 brought about a major change in the Canadian extradition policy. Sebastian Burns and Atif Rafay, both Canadian nationals, were wanted for murder in the US, where murder is punishable by death. For the first time Canada refused to extradite its citizens, putting an end to its policy of extraditing without asking for guarantees regarding the non-application of the death penalty, except in exceptional cases. The Supreme Court ruling reversed this policy, stating that guarantees against the death penalty must always be sought, except in exceptional cases.
On January 11, 2002 Canada's Supreme Court ruled that refugees who face torture in their homelands "generally" cannot be deported there, unless the evidence shows that their continued presence in Canada poses a serious security risk to the country.
On December 19, 2016, Canada voted again in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly, and for the first time co-sposored the text.