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The Canadian Commonwealth eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 231 pages of information about The Canadian Commonwealth.
floor and after smoking countless pipes let drop the fact that two settlers had “gone in” and only “one man—­he come out.”  That was enough.  Two policemen were detailed on the case.  They rode to the abandoned homesteads.  In the deserted log cabin nothing seemed amiss, but some distance away on a bluff a stained ax was found; yet farther away a mound not a year old.  Beneath it the remains of the Englishman were found with ax hacks in the skull.  It was now a year since the commission of the crime and the murderer was by this far enough away.  Why put the country to the expense of trailing down a criminal who had decamped?  Those two young Mounted Policemen were told to find the criminal and not come back till they had found him.  They trailed him from Alberta to Montana, from Montana to the Orient, from China back to Texas, where he was found on a homestead of his own.  Now the proof of murder was of the most tenuous sort.  One of the Mounted Policemen disguised himself as a laborer and obtained work on an adjoining homestead.  It took two years to gain the criminal’s confidence and confession.  The man was arrested and extradited to Canada.  If I remember rightly, the trial did not last a week, and the murderer was hanged forthwith.

Instances of this kind could be retailed without number, but this one case is typical.  It is something more than relentlessness.  It is more than keeping politics out of the courts.  It is a tacit national recognition of two basic truths:  that the protection of innocence is the business of the courts more than the protection of guilt; that having delegated to the Department of Justice the enforcement of criminal law, Canada holds that Department of Justice responsible for every infraction of law.  The enforcement is greatly aided by the fact that criminal law in Canada is under federal jurisdiction.  An embezzler can not defalcate in Nova Scotia, lightly skip into Manitoba and put both provinces to expense and technical trouble apprehending him.  In the States I once was annoyed by a semi-demented blackmailer.  When I sent for the sheriff—­whose deputy, by the way, hid when summoned—­the lunatic stepped across the state border, and it would have cost me two hundred dollars to have apprehended him.  As the culprit was a menace more to the community than to me, I went on west on a trip to a remote part of Alberta.  I had not been in Alberta twenty-four hours before the chief constable called to know if this blackmailer of whom he had read in the press, could be apprehended in Canada.  The why of this vigilance on one side of the line and remissness on the other, I can no more explain than why American industrial progress is so amazingly swift and Canadian industrial progress is so amazingly slow.

There is very little wish-washy coddling of the criminal in Canada.  While in the penitentiary he is cared for physically, mentally and spiritually.  When released, he is helped to start life afresh; but if he keeps falling and falling, he is put where he will not propagate his species and hurt others in his back-sliding.

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