5.22.2012

montana board says canadian man should die. harper government does nothing.

Five years have passed since Stockwell Day, then Minister of Public Safety, announced that the Harper Government would not intervene to help save the life of Ronald Allen Smith. Smith is a Canadian citizen on death row in the US state of Montana.

The Harper Government later backpedaled, saying it would intervene - but did not. Earlier this month, a representative from the Canadian Consulate General in Denver was supposed to appear at Smith's clemency hearing. She did not. Instead, the Harper Government submitted a statement that was so bland and unemphatic that they might as well have said, "We don't care. Do what you want."

Current news reports claim that the Harper Government recommended clemency for Smith, but that is not really true. They technically supported clemency because a the Federal Court of Canada forced them to. But they did not go to bat to save Smith's life.

Now the Montana Parole Board has recommended that Smith be denied clemency and executed.

In my 2007 post about Ronald Smith, "stockwell day uses de facto death penalty against alberta man", I wrote:
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 here we are.

There is some slim hope to save Smith's life, as Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer cannot run for office again (term limits), and so doesn't have to worry about political fallout from granting clemency. Imagine that the life of a human being depends on such considerations. What barbarism.

When the Montana government kills Ronald Allen Smith, it is no better than Ronald Allen Smith. Smith, at least, has tried to make amends for his actions, by helping other prisoners, working hard to educate himself, and professing his deep remorse for his actions. The Montana government - and the Harper Government - will murder in cold blood and declare it legal and just.

2 comments:

Ofer said...

You wrote Minnesota instead of Montana in the title. Just wanted to call your attention to it. Feel free to reject this comment :)

laura k said...

Hi Ofer! Thank you!!! Fixed now.