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http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-c ... -1.4569158
Judge tosses convicted B.C. polygamists' constitutional challenge
Judge rules against claims by Winston Blackmore and James Oler that polygamy laws are unconstitutional
A judge in British Columbia has ruled that Canada's polygamy laws are constitutional, rejecting the argument from two B.C. polygamists who claimed the law violated their charter rights.
Winston Blackmore and James Oler were found guilty of having multiple wives in B.C. Supreme Court last July. They returned to court to argue their convictions were null because the law itself was unconstitutional under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
On Friday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Sheri Ann Donegan rejected the argument, stating that Blackmore and Oler considered their lifestyles above the law when they continued to marry women in Bountiful, B.C.
Blackmore and Oler showed little emotion as the judgment was read. About a dozen of Blackmore's daughters were in attendance in the Cranbrook courtroom.
Both men are former bishops in the small fundamentalist Mormon community located in southeastern B.C. They argue that polygamy law infringes on their charter rights to freedom of religion and expression.
Neither denied having multiple marriages. Blackmore was found to have married more than two dozen women, while Oler had five wives. Blackmore has fathered more than 145 children from his marriages.
"I'm guilty of living my religion and that's all I'm saying today because I've never denied that," Blackmore told reporters after the last year's guilty verdict.
Both men are the first in modern Canadian history to be convicted of polygamy. They will now be sentenced barring further appeals, although there is no precedent in Canadian law.
Last year, court heard Bountiful residents are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which condones plural marriage.
In December, Blackmore argued that he believed he was allowed to practise polygamy because he wasn't charged when police investigated allegations about his multiple wives in the 1990s.
His lawyer, Blaire Suffredine, argued that the unions were never legal marriages, but common-law relationships sanctioned by Blackmore's church, and carry no legal weight.
Special prosecutor Peter Wilson argued Blackmore was always at risk of prosecution, even though Canada's polygamy laws have in the past been constitutionally vague.
Wilson said the B.C. Supreme Court has already ruled that it is not unconstitutional to charge someone with polygamy, as noted in a 2011 reference case.
This case is pretty unusual since as the article notes, it is the first successful prosecution of polygamy in modern Canadian history. Although the article doesn't really go into details, IIRC the laws on polygamy were upheld due to the potential for abuse of women and children.
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The challenge would be more credible if it were the wives challenging on his behalf...
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I'm with Simon on this. If some guy meets two or more women willing to go along with his lifelong dream to become a harem protagonist then good luck to the lot of them as far as I'm concerned, but something tells me that nobody would have filed a police report if these two "bishops" were practicing ethical non-monogamy.
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I'm not familiar with this case, but were any of the wives underage or otherwise claiming abuse?
Its also interesting that one noted via lawyer that none of his marriages were legal nor was he claiming them to be so, just common law relationships. So what separates this guy from a dude with ten kids by five women (I have several employees this describes) or visa vers, all the product of drunken hookups over the years? We don't throw those guys in jail as long as they are meeting their legal obligations to the children. On its face the article mentions nothing about lack of support, though I highly doubt the Blackmore could be doing so unless the mothers absolved him of the obligation.
In the US its generally child abuse accusations that law enforcement is sinking their teeth into regarding polygamists. Or perhaps some sort of abuse against the adult women. This article mentions none of this. And one of them is not actually claiming legal marriage, ie defrauding the government by claiming benefits or rights related to marriage, where is the legal foul?
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Zaune wrote: ↑
I'm with Simon on this. If some guy meets two or more women willing to go along with his lifelong dream to become a harem protagonist then good luck to the lot of them as far as I'm concerned, but something tells me that nobody would have filed a police report if these two "bishops" were practicing ethical
There is probably a good argument for legalized polygamy between consenting adults. But not fundi-Mormon-style "A dozen women young women/underage girls controlled by one old man" polygamy.
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