B.C. Attorney General gives prosecutor mandate to go after polygamists
VICTORIA, British Columbia, March 28, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After B.C.’s supreme court upheld Canada’s 121-year-old ban on polygamy in November, calling the practice “harm[ful] to women, to children, to society and to the institution of monogamous marriage,” the province has decided that the ruling was “strong enough” to bring polygamists to justice.
“I’m very pleased to say today that our team believes that in and of itself the ruling was strong enough that we can move forward potentially with polygamy charges,” said Attorney General Shirley Bond on Monday.
Last November, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman heard 42 days of testimony and legal arguments relating to Canada’s prohibition against polygamy. The case revolved around the Mormon community in Bountiful, B.C., where Winston Blackmore and James Oler were charged under Section 293 of Canada’s Criminal Code for entering into “conjugal union with more than one person at the same time.” At the time, Blackmore claimed to have had 26 wives who gave him 108 children.
“I asked our team to take a very thorough look at the ruling – because we wanted to make sure we felt we had enough strength in that ruling to proceed with potential polygamy charges,” said Bond.
“Legal counsel have advised me they are satisfied his decision will enable police and prosecutors to act with authority in investigating and prosecuting criminally polygamous relationships.”
Bond made it clear that the B.C. provincial government has no plans to take Bauman’s decision upholding the prohibition against polygamy to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“While the opinion of a higher court may be more persuasive in case law, the government does not believe a referral decision is necessary. The true victims of polygamy are the women and children this trial court decision protects,” she said.
Bond also announced on Monday an updated mandate for Vancouver lawyer Peter Wilson that now gives him the authority to bring polygamists to justice. Wilson was appointed in January by the province’s criminal justice branch as a Special Prosecutor to examine potential criminal activity of Bountiful residents who were suspected of smuggling child brides to Mormon sects in the United States.
Wilson will now reportedly review information collected by the RCMP during their investigation of the Bountiful community to determine if the evidence is strong enough to lay chargers.
The Attorney General’s move has the Stop Polygamy in Canada Society hoping that “concubinage, sexual slavery, trafficking of children for forced marriage and slave labour” will soon become “a thing of [Canada’s] past.”
“Will this sordid history be placed behind us? It’s up to Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson, now. He has been given the mandate,” the society said.
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