A Canadian man facing execution in the United States filed an unusual lawsuit against Canada's government on Tuesday in a bid to force it to plead for clemency on his behalf.
Canada has traditionally intervened for Canadians on death row abroad but last month the minority Conservative government -- which won election in 2006 on a law and order platform -- said it would no longer do so for those sentenced by what it called "democratic jurisdictions".
Ronald Smith, who is set to be executed in Montana for two 1982 murders, said in his lawsuit that the government's change of policy violated his rights under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A lawyer for Smith, 50, said that even in the days leading up to the sudden change of policy, government officials had been seeking clemency for the convicted man.
"It's an unusual application, obviously, to force the government to do something like this but we think that the circumstances of his particular case are quite compelling," Smith's Toronto-based lawyer, Sarah Loosemore, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"We can't force the Americans to do or not do anything but what we're saying is that the Canadian government (has) an obligation -- when it's a Canadian citizen -- to at least try to negotiate with the other government for clemency."
No date has yet been set for the execution of Smith, who admits he carried out the murders.
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