The Conservative government has decided to abandon Ronald Smith, a Canadian citizen, in his fight against a U.S. death sentence in the state of Montana. Though what he did was wrong, Mr. Smith deserves the support of the Canadian government, his most significant ally.
How does our treatment of Mr. Smith compare to our treatment of U.S. citizens in similar situations? Canadian law prohibits extradition of a U.S. citizen to an U.S. state in which they will face the death penalty. Why does the Conservative government apply a lesser standard to Canadians in the same position?
The reason is simple. The Conservative government wants to send a strong message to Canadians: if you commit a crime in the United States and you face the death penalty, don’t expect any help from Canada. Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day was clear on this point: “We want to preserve public safety here in Canada and that is our position.”
While we may not have the final say on his fate, we do have the power and the responsibility to express Canada’s principles. Canadian foreign policy should be a reflection of Canadian domestic policy, not U.S. domestic policy. We don’t execute people, and we should fight to protect our citizens who face that fate, no matter what they’ve done.
Canadians deserve better. They deserve a government that will stand up for them, through thick and thin, because they are Canadian.