A short time ago, I reported on Canada's rightward shift on the subject of capital punishment, and Louise Arbour's public criticism of the new stance.
Now, according to the Ottawa Citizen (21 November 2007), the secretary general of the Council of Europe, Terry Davies has likened the government of Prime Minister Steven Harper to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who "washed his hands" of the decision to crucify Jesus Christ because a mob demanded Christ's execution. Davies said Canada is effectively 'subcontracting' the death penalty, just as the US government has dispatched suspected terrorists to Third World countries, where they can be interrogated under torture.
He urged the federal government to press US authorities to return Albertan Ronald Smith, the murderer at the centre of the controversy, from his Montana prison cell to serve the rest of his life behind bars in Canada.
'I'm very disappointed to learn that the Canadian government is not taking some action to get this man returned to Canada, where he should serve a life sentence. We certainly don't want a man like that walking the streets', Mr. Davies said. 'But to execute him is degrading. It's reducing authorities to the same level as people who kill people. Killing people is wrong. And the European view is we won't get down in the gutter with the people who commit murders. I'm just amazed that the Canadian government would wash its hands, just like Pontius Pilate.'