Ian Jackson MacDonald, 72, spoke to CTV News from the Winnipeg Remand Centre after his arrest on drug-smuggling charges dating back more than 30 years.

Yachts, planes, swimming pools and gold jewelry once marked his lifestyle, but have now been replaced by prison identification tags.

"I'd be quite happy if I could (have) died this afternoon," said MacDonald.

MacDonald was arrested in Florida in January. He was brought to Winnipeg earlier in March after being extradited from the United States to face charges of conspiracy to import marijuana in Manitoba.

The charges stem from an RCMP investigation dating back to 1979.

It's alleged that up to 225 kilograms of marijuana had been smuggled from Florida to Winnipeg in boats.

"None of that is true at all," said MacDonald. "I had a nice home in Fort Lauderdale Beach and I bought and sold boats and that's it."

He said he's only guilty of talking to a Canadian who came to his house, asking him about hauling drugs to Winnipeg.

MacDonald was originally taken into custody in Florida in 1980, but escaped.

He said he was able to get out thanks to a teenage security guard, who simply let him go.

"So I walked out and I've been gone ever since," said MacDonald.

He later went by the name of Jack Hunter and ran an appliance store.

MacDonald was also facing charges in the U.S. for his escape, but they were dropped, allowing the marijuana case in Manitoba to proceed.

The marijuana smuggling case led to then-MLA Bob Wilson being impeached and convicted in 1980. During the investigation, officers even tapped phones at the legislature.

Wilson served seven years in prison, but always maintained his innocence and insisted MacDonald would clear his name.

CTV News asked MacDonald whether he thinks Wilson is innocent.

"Yes I do. Absolutely," said MacDonald.

CTV News told Wilson about MacDonald's response on Wednesday.

"I always prayed that (MacDonald) would tell the truth," said Wilson. He hopes a new trial will now be possible.

MacDonald, meanwhile, said he has cancer and hopes to get back to Florida to be with his wife of 40 years.

"People my age should be home in bed," he said. His case remains before the courts.

MacDonald's next court appearance is set for March 28.

- with a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley