Mr. Speaker, quite contrary to what the hon. member has said, our government has been abundantly clear on where we stand. I have had an opportunity to state a number of times where we stand on the issue of the death penalty both here in Canada and abroad.
We have been steadfast on the issue to the extent that the Minister of Justice has repeatedly stated, both inside and outside the House, that there are no plans to change the laws of Canada with respect to the death penalty. He has stated that on more occasions than I care to count at this time.
Capital punishment was abolished from the Criminal Code of Canada in 1976, as the hon. member knows, following a free vote in the House of Commons. The last vestiges of the death penalty were eliminated from Canadian law in 1998, when it was removed as a sentencing option from the National Defence Act. The death penalty was last used in Canada over 45 years ago, in 1962, well before its formal abolition.
Canadian law no longer imposes capital punishment for any offence, and as the Minister of Justice has repeatedly made clear, and I have repeatedly made clear in late shows in this House, the government has no intention to change this.
At the international level, Canada's position has been equally clear. Canada has supported and continues to support the abolition of the death penalty and a moratorium on its application.
Since 2005 Canada has been a party to the Second Optional Protocol to the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. All states that are parties to this protocol are required to abolish the death penalty within their respective jurisdictions, something, as I mentioned, which Canada has already done.
As recently as December 18, 2007 Canada voted in support of the European Union's successful resolution at the United Nations General Assembly calling for an international moratorium on the use of the death penalty. This resolution encourages all countries that retain the death penalty to respect international standards for its use and to stop executing offenders with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
Clearly, Canada opposes the death penalty and continues to support the international community's efforts to encourage its abolition. However, we must recognize that states which are not parties to the Second Optional Protocol may impose the death penalty without necessarily violating international law.
The Government of Canada respects the sovereignty of each state in determining its own laws. Nonetheless, Canada continues to encourage the abolition of the death penalty internationally and, as I have stated repeatedly in the House, our government has no intention to change that status of the law here in Canada.