While I didn’t become a conservative until my late 20s, I was never comfortable with left-wing thinking, particularly when it came to justice issues. Fighting for the rights of criminals was simply a concept I could never get behind; the role of the criminal defense attorney always made me queasy. As someone who was always taught to be good; who always believed there were consequences to not being good; and who, generally, acted well within the limits of morality and the law, I had no sympathy for those who chose a path of evil.
Capital punishment always seemed fair to me. The “it brings us down to their level” argument seemed ridiculous – in what possible way could punishing the taker of innocent life be equally barbaric as the act of murder itself? The “killing the murderer won’t bring back the victim” is a total canard, essentially scoffing at the concepts of justice and punishment – concepts that are essential ingredients in any civilized society. The “wrongful convictions” argument never convinced me, either – with all the appeals available to death-row inmates, and the standard of proof being so very, very high in death-penalty cases, I never believed that a wrongful capital punishment could be more than a one-in-a-million occurrence.
It is in this context that I salute PM Stephen Harper and Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day for refusing to request clemency for the soon-to-be-lethally-injected Red Deer, Alberta native Ronald Smith. It’s a clear change in policy that is likely driving the pinhead Trudeaupian bureaucrats in the Department of Justice. From “Government didn’t want to defend double murderer”, Ottawa Citizen, November 3, 2007 :
“The reality of this particular case is that were we to intervene, it would very quickly become a question of whether we are prepared to repatriate a double murderer to Canada. In light of this government’s strong initiatives on tackling violent crime, I think that would send the wrong signal to the Canadian population.” Ronald Smith, a native of Red Deer, Alta., was convicted in Montana of killing two Blackfeet Indian men — Harvey Mad Man, 24, and Thomas Running Rabbit, 20 — during a drug- and alcohol-fuelled road trip to the U.S. in August 1982.
The death sentence for Mr. Smith, an inmate at Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, has been under appeal for more than 20 years. Until this week — when CanWest News Service revealed that the government had abruptly changed long-standing policy to try to prevent the execution of any Canadian citizen in the U.S. — Mr. Smith had enjoyed the backing of Canadian officials in his bid to avoid lethal injection and to be transferred to a Canadian prison.
Harper is bang-on right: fighting for the rights of a double-murderer is unseemly, and sends entirely the wrong message to the public. Here’s my vote for the Harper/Flanagan policy of incremental change – almost every week, there are little stories like this that make this conservative proud, and will help move the political center in Canada back away from the far-left. No matter what petty, vengeful scorned lovers like Gerry Nicholls think – Harper is on the right track, and has done more for the conservative movement in Canada with a tenuous minority parliament in less than two years than any other politician has done in generations.