Home CommentaryOpinions U.S. to execute Canadian

U.S. to execute Canadian

by Archives November 6, 2007

It’s called guilt by association. You don’t have to pull the trigger to be a murderer. You don’t even have to help the person who does. But by knowing about the plan and willingly doing nothing to stop it, you become an accomplice. Blood can stain hands by proxy.
In much the same way, the Harper administration is going to kill a man from Alberta, a man named Ronald Allen Smith.
Canada abandoned capital punishment in 1976, and it has since been customary for the Canadian government to demand a reprieve when one of its citizens is sentenced to death in a foreign country. It’s self-evident; as a country which has abolished such an archaic form of punishment, Canada has a responsibility to try and save its own citizens – regardless of the offence commited – from being put to death. Every time, since ’76, that a Canadian was sentenced to die in an American prison, the Canadian government has asked for a commuted sentence of life imprisonment. Until now.
On Oct. 1, Foreign Affairs minister Stockwell Day announced that Smith, who was found guilty of two murders in the United States, would receive no help from Canada’s government in his attempts to avoid the death penalty.
According to Day, Canada will no longer “ask for clemency in democratic countries, the United States in particular, where a fair trial was held.”
Explaining this shift in policy, Day argued, “We want to preserve public safety here in Canada.”
So, in order to avoid the criminal boogeyman at home, Canada is choosing to sacrifice a life abroad. It’s part and parcel for the Conservatives’ near-obsessive focus on safety and law and order issues. All this, while trying to push legislation through the House that would impose minimum sentences for firearm-related offenses, and make criminals out of nearly every teenager in the country by toughening drug prohibition through strong-armed enforcement, and by raising the age of sexual consent.
But what are the Conservatives so scared of? Is Canada that unsafe?
Here’s a brief recap of the latest stats from Statistics Canada, which should be widely available on the Internet to any Conservative decision-maker savvy enough to check the facts before speaking.
There were about 230,000 deaths in Canada in 2004. Of that, only 515 were homicides. Of those murders, 83 per cent were committed by a non-criminal acquaintance, and approximatively one third by a family member. In all, only 12 per cent of murders were crime-related. That’s about 62 deaths in a country of 30 million people. Now compare that to deaths caused by alcohol liver disease (1,116), automobiles (2,834), heart diseases (65,833), or cancer (66,947). Or, even to the Canadian presence in Kandahar (37 deaths in 2006 alone, 64 in all).
In fact, the Canadian Center for Justice Statistics pointed out in 2006 that “the national crime rate has reached its lowest point in over 25 years.” Canadians should be rejoicing that they live in such a safe, relatively crime-free country, not strengthening criminal law.
Crime is simply not that lethal in Canada. If the Conservatives were really that concerned about Canadians’ safety, they should ban friends, family, cars and alcohol – which all cause more deaths than crime; or maybe just give income tax percentage points to the provinces to fight the two leading causes of death in the country, cancer and heart disease, instead of funding meaningless tax breaks that will profit only large investors.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment