Cities for Life 2007

Prime Minister Harper is overturning a long-standing Canadian tradition of seeking clemency for Canadians sentenced to death in the United States.  Human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have denounced this development.  All three opposition parties have espressed their opposition to the change in policy.  Amnesty International further decried Canada’s unwillingness to co-sponsor a United Nations resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.  Once again, Prime Minister Harper finds himself at odds with the values of most Canadians, all 3 opposition parties, Canadian traditions, world opinion and human rights promoters.

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness Amnesty International

Cities for Life Toronto Celebration
Friday, 2007 November 30, 6 pm
Peace Garden, Nathan Phillips Square
lighting ceremony at 8 pm, St. James Cathedral

A number of human rights groups are organizing a “Cities for Life” vigil where public buildings around the world are illuminated in opposition to the death penalty.  The Toronto celebration is sponsored in part by the local branch of Amnesty International, which I chair.

There are many reasons to oppose the death penalty.  Irreversible and tragic mistakes are always made.  It has never been demonstrated to have an effect on crime rates.  In countries where reasonable judicial standards exist it is many times more expensive than incarceration for life.  It is disproportionately used on minorities.  It brutalizes the judicial process.  For me the most important reason to oppose the death penalty is that in times of crisis, it ends up being used to silence political opposition.  If we value our political freedoms, we cannot open the door to the death penalty.  And we cannot set an example to other countries that the death penalty is acceptable.

The evening will begin with a speech from Mayor Miller in the Peace Garden at Nathan Phillips Square at 6 pm on Friday, November 30.  There will be a walk to St. James Cathedral, where there will be a secular, indoor programme of speakers supporting Canada’s ban on the death penalty.  At 8 pm, we will be outside the Cathedral when it is illuminated.  Bring flashlights and come out to celebrate our commitment to life.

Leave a comment

To weed out spam, your comment will not appear right away.