VANCOUVER, British Columbia, November 23, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The British Columbia Supreme Court today upheld Canada’s 121-year-old ban on polygamy, calling the monogamous protecting provision “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”
“I have concluded that this case is essentially about harm ... arising out of the practice of polygamy,” said B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman, who heard 42 days of testimony and legal arguments in relation to the case.
“Based on the most comprehensive judicial record on the subject ever produced, I have concluded that [there is] a reasoned apprehension of harm to many in our society inherent in the practice of polygamy,” said Justice Bauman.
“This includes harm to women, to children, to society and to the institution of monogamous marriage.”
The case arose in January of 2009 when Winston Blackmore and James Oler, two men from a Mormon community in Bountiful, British Columbia, were arrested and charged under Section 293 of Canada’s Criminal Code for entering into “conjugal union with more than one person at the same time.”
Blackmore claimed to have had 26 wives who gave him collectively 108 children.
The charge against the two men was stayed, leading to this most recent hearing on the constitutionality of Canada’s law.
In answer to the main question, “is Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?” Justice Bauman ruled that s. 293 is “consistent” except to the extent that it criminalizes “young persons who are parties to such unions.”
“This serious impairment of young persons’ liberty interests does not advance the important objectives of s. 293,” said the judge.
Stop Polygamy in Canada, an international group based in Alberta which participated in the BC proceedings as “interested persons” stated in a press release that they were “very pleased” with the decision.
“Chief Justice Bauman has sent a message around the world that Canada’s laws protecting the equality rights of women are to be protected. This decision also honours Canada’s international agreements protecting the rights of women and children. Canada’s doors are closed to polygamists and the practice of polygamy within our borders is still a crime,” the group said.
The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) also said it “pleased” by the decision, telling LifeSiteNews that “polygamy does indeed bring harm to society in various forms and we are pleased the judge recognizes that.”
“Research shows that two-parent, male-female marriage is the strongest family form we know particularly for the raising of children. It is critical that we not only maintain but strengthen this norm in society,” said IMFC’s Executive Director Dave Quist.
“Oftentimes we are led to believe that our relationships are only private matters. This ruling shows this is not the case, given the radically different outcomes associated with polygamous marriage as compared with other family forms, outcomes which affect the way we live.”
“This sends a strong message across Canada that further changes to the institution of marriage is deleterious to society and should not be entertained,” concluded Quist.