Philosophical question of the day

Colby Cosh, writing a few weeks ago about the government’s shift on clemency policy.

The Conservative policy, in a nutshell, is that Canada no longer executes people, or participates in executions by means of extradition, but that the right of other countries to punish serious crimes on their soil in such a manner will be respected, if the punishment is imposed according to the rule of law and norms of due process. This respect is no more than we ask for ourselves when we try a foreign national here … it is plain that a trial can be substantially fair and still result in an execution; that it is better for a country to kill a few murderers fairly than it is to imprison people unjustly, or permit lynching; and that the U.S. justice system is, on the whole, vastly superior to those of Turkmenistan or Nepal — where capital punishment has been abolished — and closer in spirit to our own. Note that even though DNA has been sequenceable for decades now, capital punishment opponents in the U.S. still have not found their smoking gun: the name of a single American individual who, in modern times, is certain to have been wrongly executed.

On that count, then, what bearing should the case of Cameron Todd Willingham have on the government’s position?

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