OP/ED: Canadian on U.S. death row is right where he belongs

Rob Leggett
By Rob Leggett
March 10th, 2010

Ronald Allen Smith has the distinction of being the only Canadian on death row in the U.S. and, thanks to the resent rejection of his appeal by the U.S. Appeal Court, he is one step closer to execution.

Smith, from Red Deer, Alta, admitted to and was convicted of killing two young men in Montana in 1982. He marched the two young men into the woods by the side of the road and shot them both in the head at point-blank range. Two days later, he was arrested along with two others after a botched robbery in California.
He pleaded guilty to the murders of the two Blackfoot natives and was offered a deal where he would get life in prison; however, he turned it down and asked the court to give him the death penalty. He testified in court that he killed the young men because he wanted to know what killing someone felt like.

In March 1983, he was sentenced to death.

Smith then changed his mind and told the courts he really didn’t want to die.


Smith doesn’t want to die.

Sadly, that is probably what Harvey Mad Man and Thomas Running Rabbit said while they were begging for their lives, just before Smith shot them both in the back of the heads.

Nevertheless, Smith is hoping for a clemency deal that would have his sentence commuted to life in prison, and that he would be transferred to a Canadian prison so he could be closer to his family and possibly even eventual release.
I really hope that I am not the only one who is outraged by the idea that he wants to be transferred to Canada … because he misses his family. After taking the lives of those two young men, whose families will never get to see them again, he would like us to believe he is rehabilitated and deserving of sympathy.
I, for one, do not have any sympathy for Smith.

If there was any doubt to his guilt, I would full-heartedly endorse his bid for clemency, however there is no doubt. He admitted to the callous execution of two young men and even described to the court the events that took place; he even admitted that he wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone; and the final straw, after being shown undeserved mercy and offered a deal, he chose to ask for the death penalty instead.

The only reason that Smith would be granted a reprieve from his death sentence would be because he is a Canadian citizen, and I believe Canadian politicians are meddling where they don’t belong.

Canadian politicians repeatedly proclaim that the U.S. is interfering with Canadian sovereignty, yet it amazes me that they don’t view this as an interference of American sovereignty. If an American commits murder and flees to Canada, we will not return him to a state that has the death penalty without prior assurance that the death penalty will not be enforced. Yet a Canadian has committed double homicide in the U.S. and we are insisting that he does not have to face the verdict of the court, a verdict he insisted on. This is bleeding-heart diplomacy at its finest.

Whether we find the death penalty palatable or not in Canada is not the issue. The issue is, we have to realize that once we step outside of Canadian borders we are subject to other countries’ laws. Smith CHOSE to commit two murders in a state that has the death penalty; he CHOSE to ask for the death penalty; and we have a duty (in this instance, at least) to allow the law to give those families the justice authorized by the U.S. court.

Whether we agree with the form of justice or not.

Categories: Op/Ed


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