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Court sets deadline for participants in polygamy case

January 28, 2010 - CANADA

Jan 28, a deadline for applications from participants, begins a constitutional case that has implications for polygamous groups across Canada. The British Columbia Supreme Court will consider during 2010 whether Criminal Code provisions prohibiting polygamy are consistent with the guarantee of freedom of religion provided in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Winston Blackmore, Canada's best known polygamist, predicts doom for those who break up families or interfere with a person's freedom.

According to Canada's Globe & Mail newspaper, Mr. Justice Robert Bauman, Chief Justice of the BC Supreme Court, will hear the case. Vancouver lawyer George Macintosh has been appointed to argue that Criminal Code provisions prohibiting polygamy are unconstitutional. The federal and provincial government will argue that polygamy is illegal. If the court rules the law is not constitutional, the issue goes to parliament. Blackmore leads a closely-knit religious sect of several hundred in Bountiful, in southeast BC. The sect is an offshoot of a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community. He was charged with polygamy earlier this year, but the court quashed the charges on procedural grounds. Blackmore is reported to have 25 wives. In a posting on his blog before Christmas, he prediced 2010 "will not be a good one for all you officers, presidents, bishops, counsellors, trustees, spokespersons, or any other responsible persons that deliberately break up families, interfere with the free agency of men, women and children, and cause an attack or assist in an attack, religious or otherwise upon any person or his family. ... And in the end you will be single, lonely, desolate and damned.'; Jan/10

Polygamist predicts opponents will be 'damned' (Globe & Mail 27 Dec 2009)

Date written/update: 2010-01-28