In early February, Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu caused a minor crisis for the ruling Conservative party when he expressed his opinion that the government could save millions of dollars by throwing a length of rope into the prison cells of convicted murderers. The convicts could then choose whether to live or die. The opposition made hay out of the comment. In the view of the NDP, this was another peek at the hidden right-wing agenda of the Conservative government, an agenda that includes the re-introduction of the death penalty. Prime Minister Harper disavowed the comments as being representative of the government and suggested that Senator Boisvenu was speaking out of his personal loss. A daughter of Boisvenu was raped and murdered. Senator Boisvenu himself later apologized for his statement and clarified that he is not an advocate for the death penalty.
It was a curious moment in Canadian politics. The party which includes assisted suicide in its policy platform was the one most vocally indignant about Boisvenu’s proposal. Remember Sue Rodriguez and the support given by then-NDP MP Svend Robinson? It seems the right to choose to die in dignity does not apply to convicted felons – or is it the rope the NDP finds offensive? Would they be more amenable to a syringe and lethal injection? But this was politics. This was more about exposing an allegedly hidden right-wing agenda of the Conservative party than about the government-encouraged suicide of convicted murderers.
Does Boisvenu’s proposal have any merit? Who has the right to take away a human life? Does a convicted killer have the right to take his own life? According to Romans 13, the government bears the sword and it cannot relinquish that sword to the killer. He unlawfully took a life before and with Boisvenu’s proposal, he will unlawfully take a life again – his own life. Scripture teaches that the government is God’s avenger to carry out his wrath on the wrongdoer. This proposal simply presented an easy way out of that calling.
This appeared in the February 2012 issue of Reformed Perspective.