Home > Culture, Law > Polygamy on trial – why it shouldn’t fly

Polygamy on trial – why it shouldn’t fly

The B.C. Supreme Court is in the final stages of its hearing to determine whether Canada’s ban on polygamy is an infringement of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

You can follow the proceedings live in what is a first for Canadian courts, at this link.

There’s an unusual cast of characters in this drama, ranging from the two fundamentalist Mormons who ran rival sects at the B.C. community of Bountiful, to the provincial government, anti-polygamy movements, and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

Charges against Winston Blackmore and James Oler were stayed when a court found the B.C. had been “prosecutor shopping” before finding someone willing to press charges.The government then asked the B.C. Supreme Court to decide whether Canada’s anti-polygamy law violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. An official statement from provincial attorney general Mike de Jong read: “Until Canadians and the justice system have clarity about the constitutionality of our polygamy laws, all provinces, including ours, face a lengthy and costly legal process in prosecuting alleged offences.”

I’ve written on this issue for The National Post. My perspective is that of someone who grew up in the adjoining community of Creston and saw the sect first take root there.

A reading of Daphne Branham’s book, The Secret Lives of Saints (Random House) will eliminate any doubts you may have about the devastating consequences of religious polygamy on its innocent victims. She has an amazing story in the Vancouver Sun today on the trafficking of young girls between B.C. and the United States.

Eight out of ten Canadians favor enforcement of the anti-polygamy law, according to public opinion surveys. I share that view. Allowing exploitation and brain washing of young people by any religion is bad enough, but it’s worse when the result is a lifetime of subjugation and child-bearing for girls as young as fourteen.

Surprisingly, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association opposes the present ban, but admits polygamy can and does cause harm. But it’s no worse than the harm that can come from monogamous relationships, they say.

I wonder. How many conventional relationships are based on a dictate to produce as many children as you can, by as many wives as you can garner, in order to occupy the highest rank next to god in heaven?

The Civil Liberties argument reminds me of the gun lobby and their cry – “guns don’t kill people. people kill people.”

The current hearing can have only one rational outcome – to reaffirm the present ban. Polygamy shouldn’t fly.

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