Striking down Canada’s polygamy law would make the country a magnet for polygamous immigrant families and open the door to societal harms resulting from the practice, a lawyer for the B.C. government said in opening remarks for a landmark case.
“The challengers [to the law] all urge the court to make Canada the sole Western nation to decriminalize polygamy,” Crown lawyer Craig Jones told a packed Vancouver courtroom Monday. “The reasonably apprehended result would be an influx of polygamous families who are presently barred from the country in addition to the practice’s domestic growth.”
Evidence to be heard in the case suggests that polygamy is already beginning to take root in Canada’s Muslim community, especially among immigrants, as a result of uncertainty around Criminal Code provisions against the practice, Mr. Jones added.
His remarks opened a constitutional reference case that will combine aspects of a trial and a public hearing and turn a spotlight on the polygamous community and practices of Bountiful, a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community in southeastern B.C.
For decades, lawmakers in B.C. have wrestled with the question of how and whether to crack down on the practice of polygamy and its alleged associated harms – including the trafficking of underage girls for marriage to much older men and the expulsion of men and boys from the community.
Over the years, lawyers repeatedly advised government officials that a prosecution, based on Section 293 of the Criminal Code that prohibits the practice, could founder on constitutional grounds.
But in 2009, Bountiful leaders James Oler and Winston Blackmore were charged with one count each of polygamy, but those charges were stayed after the B.C. Supreme Court judge found the government had acted unlawfully in appointing the special prosecutor who approved the charges.
The province did not appeal that decision, but submitted the question to the court for a reference.
The case will consider whether the law against polygamy is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and also look at what are the necessary elements of an offence – that is, whether Section 293 requires that polygamy involve a minor or some other element of abuse or exploitation.
The attorneys-general of B.C. and Canada want the polygamy law to be upheld. A court-appointed amicus curiae, or friend of the court, will argue that the law should be struck down.
The case also features about a dozen groups that have interested-person status, including the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which maintains that Canada’s polygamy law is discriminatory and an inappropriate use of the criminal law.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Jones said the reports out of Bountiful present a “consistently worrisome narrative” of child brides, teen pregnancy, and men and boys who are driven out of the community, and such harms are the “inevitable consequences” of a polygamous society.
The judge overseeing the case, Mr. Justice Robert Bauman, has approved an order that will allow some FLDS witnesses to testify anonymously.
On Monday, he denied a CBC application to televise the proceedings.
Under the Criminal Code, polygamy is an indictable offence subject to up to five years in jail.
Canada’s promotion of same sex marriages are already make Canada a magnet for
same sex immigrants who infamously promote themselves as victims in their own
country where the practice is illegal.
Canada, hypocritically, now wishes to ban immigrants from those same countries whose religion and society allow and even promote polygamous marriage.
The alleged "societal harms" of "same sex immigrants" need to be balanced against the declining birth rate which is Canada's largest looming time bomb.
The BC Government is on a virtual witch hunt, to create paranoia regarding a person having more than one spouse.
The fact is, as long as parties are officially only married to one person, there is NO law stopping Canadian citizens from engaging in group sex, or from having more than two consenting adults sleeping and or living with each other.
The BC government is attempting to do indirectly what it knows it cannot do directly ,and somehow, wishes to have the Supreme Court of Canada enact a reverse onus for citizens to prove that they don't cross the Conservative religious law of only one person being able to be married to one person, regardless of gender of course.
By the same token, child abuse is child abuse, kicking young males out for older males to have all the pickings of young girls is not just offensive, its child abuse and that is a matter for child protection within existing laws.
Women, by the same token have an incredible amount of power.
Just imagine if Winston's wives all got together and demanded child support.
He would be in jail indefinitely for life most probably without ever there being a need for a trial. It would not even require criminal charges, just a low life judge willing to make a summary judgment order with court costs he could not afford to pay.
It's a telling sign that poly marriages are not as dysfunctional as the BC government portrays them or he would already be roasted and toasted.