|The outrage in the case of Alberta-born Ron
Smith, is that he's still alive, that the death sentence
wasn't carried out long ago. After 25 years, he is a
different person today than he was in 1982 when he murdered
two young Blackfeet men who generously (foolishly) picked
him up when he was hitchhiking.
Harvey Mad Man was 20, Tom Running Rabbit, 22. Smith
decided he'd steal their car. So at the point of a
.22-calibre rifle he marched them into the woods, shot one
in the back, stabbed and shot the other in the head.
He later said he wanted to know what it felt like to kill
Well, now he knows.
And if he loses his present appeal, then loses at the
Supreme Court level, then has his appeal for clemency to the
governor rejected, well, he'll then know what it feels like
to get a lethal injection.
Smith's lawyer and others urge he be returned to Canada
to serve the remainder of a life sentence, which is nuts.
Initially, when sentenced in 1983, Smith rejected a life
sentence and asked for the death penalty -- because he was
depressed and lonely, his lawyer now says.
He's since changed his mind, so far to no avail.
Former justice minister Irwin Cotler is "shocked" at the
government's decision and thinks it indicates Tories support
capital punishment. He wonders if extraditing murderers for
execution will be next.
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion and the NDP's Jack Layton
also think the Tories would like to reinstate capital
punishment if they had a majority -- something the Tories
They simply won't interfere in the justice system of a
Eddie Greenspan, arguably Canada's top criminal lawyer,
makes a valid point when he says that "as a country opposed
to the death penalty, Canada has a duty to protest it being
applied to any citizen, anywhere."
What Greenspan doesn't support is sending Smith back to
Canada to serve a life sentence in a Canadian prison. "I
have no argument to him serving his sentence in an American
prison. What we should object to is the death penalty," he
Smith is the only Canadian on death row in the U.S.
When another Canadian was slated for execution in Texas
in 1999 (Stanley Faulder, convicted in 1977 of murdering an
elderly woman in 1975), the government's appeal to
then-Texas governor George Bush fell on deaf ears.
An 11th-hour appeal by foreign affairs minister Lloyd
Axworthy went nowhere. Faulder was executed. And that was
the end of it -- no strained diplomatic relations, no
As with Smith, Faulder underwent some 22 years of appeals
and postponements before the sentence was carried out.
Again, that is wrong and smacks of injustice.
What concerns no one is the effect on the Blackfoot
reservation where the two murdered young men lived.
The community was devastated. Montana Gov. Brian
Schweitzer recently met friends, family and band members who
urged justice be done for the two "loving, caring young men
with bright futures ahead of them."
The Blackfeet say returning Smith to Canada to serve his
sentence would be "a slap in the face to this community and
a dagger to the heart."
Schweitzer's response: "I am governor of Montana, not the
governor of Alberta ... I have sworn to uphold the laws of
Not encouraging for Ron Smith, but it's hard to dispute
the feelings of the Indians, or the response of the