As I'm sure you already know, the Harper government announced that it will not intervene on behalf of a Canadian citizen on death row in the US.
Citing the desire to "preserve public safety here in Canada," Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said the government will not bring Ronald Allen Smith back to Canada. Smith, from Alberta, has been on death row in Montana for more than 20 years.
Day told the House of Commons on Thursday: "We will not actively pursue bringing back to Canada murderers who have been tried in a democratic country that supports the rule of law."
A democratic country that supports the rule of law? What country would that be, Mr. Day?
As you know, I have not been overly alarmed about the Harper government, and have felt that their resemblance to the neocons to the south is often exaggerated. Well, those days are gone. The alarm bell just went off.
Harper and Day are reversing 30 years of policy in Canada with no public debate or citizen input. At a time when increasing numbers of Americans are withdrawing their support for the death penalty, this Canadian government is allowing a Canadian citizen to be executed.
Do you see the connection between this and what happened to Maher Arar? Does Canada think it can keep its hands clean while it allows other countries to do the dirty work? It doesn't work that way. The government's refusal to intervene on behalf of Smith amounts to a de facto death penalty in Canada.
I've seen some blogs by Canadian wingnuts with the predictable spew: the Liberals and NDP support murderers, and Ronald Smith did these really bad things, who needs him in Canada.
These transparent pseudo-arguments only further prove the point.
In not using capital punishment, Canada aligns itself with the civilized world. There is no death penalty here. Period. It doesn't matter what the man did. And no one is asking for Smith to be released. He can live the rest of his life in prison in Canada - his natural life, that is.
I don't know if Stephen Harper and Stockwell Day would really try to re-open the death penalty debate, or if they are just kissing up to the US and won't do anything to cross them.
Either way, this is very frightening. Heaven help us if these people ever get a majority government.
(And PS will the Liberals please get their heads out of their asses and call an election already?)