Is it possible to both condemn and condone?

by Aaron Wherry

Canwest’s Randy Boswell looks at the government’s policy on capital punishment abroad, specifically now its response to a United Nations review panel’s recommendation that Canada reconsider its qualified support for clemency. From Canada’s response.

Canada does not accept recommendation 30. The Government of Canada continues to consider whether to seek clemency for Canadians facing the death penalty abroad as these cases arise. Canadian citizens detained abroad continue to receive consular assistance.

According to a previous Canwest report, Rob Nicholson, now the Justice Minister, was among those MPs who voted for the reintroduction of the death penalty in 1987. The vote failed by a count of 148-127.

During debate in the House last year, Nicholson’s parliamentary secretary, Rob Moore, referenced that vote as so.

We have said before and we will say again, there is no death penalty in Canada. The Minister of Justice and other members of this government have clearly said that this government is not changing the law in our country with respect to the death penalty.

Since December 10, 1962 no one has been executed in Canada. That is over 45 years. On July 14, 1976 the death penalty was removed from the Criminal Code. The death penalty was then removed from the National Defence Act on December 10, 1998. Since that day there has been no death penalty in Canada in law as well as in fact.

In 1987 a free vote regarding the reinstatement of the death penalty was held in the House of Commons. The result of the vote sent a very strong signal that Canadians were in favour of maintaining the abolition of the death penalty. As the Prime Minister has confirmed, this government is not going to reopen this debate in Canada.

Is it possible to both condemn and condone?

  1. Any Canadian, like Ronald Allen Smith, who travels to the US and executes two young Native American men for sport should be prepared to face the consequences of his actions (i.e. a possible death sentence).

    • *yawn*

    • Shouldn't we have some sort of guarantee of basic principles?
      If we are going to say, "The death penalty is bad, in all cases, that's why we don't allow it in Canada."
      then that should be it: Canadian citizens shouldn't be allowed to face the death penalty.
      If we are going to say that in some occasions, the death penalty is okay, then fine, that's it, but I would like some consistency.

    • Canadians abroad are subject the laws of the countries they visit, yes. That doesn't mean that in such instances the Canadian government can't encourage the relevant authorities to apply those laws with clemency.

    • So going by this logic, a woman who travels to Saudi Arabia and sleeps with a man out of wedlock should be prepared to face a stoning?

    • So going by this logic, a woman who travels to Afghanistan to work in the Tim Hortons for our troops should be prepared to face a stoning should she sleep with someone out of wedlock?

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