B.C. judge upholds polygamy law

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has upheld Canada's law against polygamy, because of potential harm to women and children.

B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond

B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has upheld Canada’s law against polygamy, finding that the potential harm to women and children in multiple marriages outweighs the infringement of religious freedom.

The ruling clears the way for the B.C. Attorney General’s ministry to try again to prosecute leaders of Bountiful, a polygamous community in southeastern B.C. near the Idaho border.

Charges against Winston Blackmore and James Oler, rival leaders of the community, were dismissed on a legal technicality by another B.C. judge in 2009. Blackmore was charged with having 19 wives and Oler three wives.

Attorney General Shirley Bond said Wednesday the ministry will take time to study the complex ruling before deciding what to do next. After the prosecution was turned away, the government proceeded with a reference case, to see if the rarely used law conforms with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Our case was in essence quite simple – that there are profound harms to children and women related to polygamy, and today I think that Justice Bauman clearly embraced government’s argument,” Bond said. “My job now is to go back and assess what implications this might have for a future potential prosecution.”

Bond added that with many intervenors in the case, the judgment is likely to be appealed.

Chief Justice Robert Bauman issued a 300-page ruling Wednesday after hearing testimony from expert witnesses as well as people who have lived in Bountiful, an isolated community of about 1,000 people belonging to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Bauman surveyed the history of marriage around the world and found that preserving monogamous marriage “represents a pressing and substantial objective for all of the reasons that have seen the ascendance of monogamous marriage as a norm in the West.” He rejected arguments that there is such a thing as “good polygamy.”

The Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints split with the mainstream Mormon church a century ago rather than renounce multiple marriage.

The B.C. community was established in the 1940s, but didn’t come to public attention until the 1980s. Similar communities exist in the U.S., particularly in Utah where the Mormon church was founded.

Just Posted

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema, a member of the Canadian national women’s soccer squad.
Another scoreless draw for Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema and Canadian national women’s soccer squad

Canada played Brazil to a 0-0 tie days after doing the same in a friendly against the Czech Republic

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Most Read