Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Just what values are driving our death penalty policy?

The death penalty has been somewhat in the news since the Conservatives came into power, with the government no longer automatically fighting for the commutation when Canadians abroad are sentenced to death by foreign courts.

The application of the policy has indeed been haphazard. In the case of Ronald Smith Allen, a Montreal man convicted of killing his wife and children in Ohio, the Conservatives have refused to intervene and fight against Smith being given the death penalty.

However, in the case of Mohamed Kohail, a Canadian sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for his party in a schoolyard brawl which led to a death, the Conservatives have decided they will intervene on Kohail’s behalf.

The Conservatives say they’re intervening with Kohail because the application of the death penalty wasn’t fair in this case, but it was done fairly in the Allen case. Canadian diplomats say it’s harder for them to make the case for Kohail with the Saudis and be taken seriously when the Conservatives refuse to make the case in the U.S. for Allen.

Here’s the line that caught my eye in this story:

Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier has said he will seek a sentence that is in line "with our values."

Just what values would those be Maxime? If you mean Canadian values, then you should be fighting the Allen case too, because Canadian values are firmly against the death penalty. That’s why we did away with it way back in 1976.

It’s unclear to me just what values would allow you to be fine with the death penalty in the one case, but against it in the other. Conservative values, I suppose. If your only concern is about the judicial process, why bring values into it? Just what supposed values are driving Conservative policy here?

Here’s an idea for an opposition motion I think the Liberals, BQ and NDP could all get behind. Rather everybody using all their opposition day motions to embarrass the other opposition parties, why not use one to pass a motion calling on the government to reinstate the longstanding Canadian tradition of seeking clemency in all death penalty cases, and reaffirming Canada’s opposition to capital punishment?

Of course, Harper would probably make it a confidence motion…

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1 comment:

Pearce Richards said...

You realize, our government's values aren't those of the population they represent. They are the values of the old Reform party that was subsumed into the CRAP (heh) and then into the modern Conservative party. They capitalize on a weak-ass opposition then hammer it down our throats because nobody is standing up for what Canadians actually believe in.

The part that disturbs me is how well they are getting away with it. C-2, C-10, C-26 are just the start.

Hey, I'm a Vancouverite who enjoys your blog, I'm just getting mine up and running. http://canadianspades.blogspot.com/