Ronald Smith Challenges Canadian Government Policy

By Beacon Staff

OTTAWA (AP) – A Canadian facing the death penalty in Montana is taking Canada’s Conservative government to court over its decision not to object to his execution.

Lawyers representing double-murderer Ronald Allen Smith submitted an application Tuesday to the Federal Court of Canada for judicial review of a government decision last month to no longer appeal the death sentences of Canadian citizens convicted of multiple murders in democratic countries.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority government has been pushing a more conservative agenda in recent months after the opposition Liberals lost an important by-election.

Smith and his Canadian legal team argue that the government’s decision is a tacit approval of his execution that violates his constitutional rights and international law.

“The death penalty is illegal in Canada,” said lawyer Lorne Waldman. “We believe our government has an obligation to seek clemency for Canadian citizens who are at risk of being subjected to the death penalty.”

Smith, who was born in Alberta, was convicted in 1983 of murdering two American Indians. He is one of only two people on death row in Montana.

Canada’s opposition leaders have written to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, asking him to commute Smith’s sentence to life in prison.

Schweitzer said that up until the end of last month he had been receiving calls from the Department of Foreign Affairs asking for Smith’s sentence to be commuted.