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Tory senator's idea: Give each murderer a rope inside their prison cell

OTTAWA -- A Conservative senator in Ottawa has an unconventional proposal for cutting down prison costs: Give murder convicts a rope in their prison cell, and let them decide whether to hang themselves.

"Basically, every killer should (have) the right to his own rope in his cell. They can decide whether to live," Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu told reporters Wednesday.

A victims' rights advocate and now a senator, Boisvenu also says the death penalty should be considered in certain cases when there's no hope of rehabilitation. He says limited use of capital punishment could save money.

He cited the case of the Shafias — the Montrealers who were convicted this week of killing four female family members. Boisvenu estimates that it will cost Canadian taxpayers $10 million to keep them locked up.

He also cited the example of serial-killer Clifford Olson, who was incarcerated for decades before he died.

"In a case as horrible as (Clifford) Olson's, is there really a discussion to be had on this? For people who have no possibility of rehabilitation, people who have killed dozens of women? I don't have much pity for that," he said.

Boisvenu makes it clear, however, that he disagrees with regular use of the death penalty. Canada eliminated capital punishment in 1976.

His comments come following several high-profile prison suicides in Quebec, in which hanging was the suspected cause.

Boisvenu made the remarks today at a Parliament Hill news conference.

He said he'd like to see more debate on the death penalty in Canada, but he notes that the Harper government has made it clear that it has no intention of reopening the discussion.

"Under certain circumstances, I think we could reopen the debate," he said, while downplaying the possibility that such a discussion might happen.

Boisvenu became a prominent victims' rights advocate after his daughter was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 2002. Another daughter was later killed in a car accident. He was appointed to the Senate two years ago.

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