Death row inmate leaves PM


Sat, November 3, 2007

Robert Allen Smith is not the type of death row inmate who elicits feelings of sympathy.

There is no question he is guilty.

Smith also doesn't appear to have been "transformed" behind bars.

That should all be immaterial to Canada's position in helping to overturn his death sentence.

In 1982, the Alberta man, who was hitchhiking in Montana, was picked up by two cousins -- Harvey Mad Man, 24, and Thomas Running Rabbit, 20.

For their kindness, the two young men were repaid by shots in the back of their heads by Smith.

During his judge-alone trial, Smith admitted: "I wanted to find out what it would be like to kill somebody."

Clearly, Smith, now 50, is a cold-blooded double murderer.

Later, during appeals of his death sentence, Smith has argued that he only made that shocking admission to spare himself a lengthy time behind bars and get the death penalty. Then he spent years appealing his death sentence. It doesn't make much sense.

But that too should be immaterial.

Canada is a country that opposes the death penalty. Period.

Now, with no debate, the minority federal Conservative government has changed decades of Canadian foreign policy to stop seeking clemency for Canadians facing the death penalty in other countries.

Asked about his government's about face on protecting a Canadian from the death penalty, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said seeking clemency for Smith would run counter to his government's tough stance on crime.

In other words, Harper is comfortable with reversing decades of democratic Canadian procedure while in a minority position, but isn't comfortable being at odds with party policy.

How's that for a killer of logic not to mention Canadian ethics?

It's also bad politics for the Tories, who have been portrayed with having a scary "hidden agenda" that they will roll out should they ever win a majority.

Yes, Smith is a monster. But Canadians decided long ago that capital punishment is an even bigger monster.