Angela Campbell’s research will be challenged in court today, Tuesday, November 30

I’m quickly posting this because I want you to have an idea of what is happening in court today.  Thanks to Daphne Bramham’s article, I do not have to do very much explaining.

Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada


Polygamy on trial: First expert witness will offer controversial testimony

By Daphne Bramham,

Vancouver Sun

November 29, 2010

Angela Campbell’s research on polygamy has been both widely quoted and widely criticized.

Yet on Tuesday, Campbell is scheduled as the first expert witness to testify in B.C. Supreme Court in the constitutional reference case to determine whether the Criminal Code’s polygamy section is valid.

She is expected to argue that polygamy ought to be decriminalized because the harms caused to women and children stem not from plural marriages, but from the societal stigma that attaches to them.

“Although the threat of criminal sanction does not seem to thwart or halt polygamy in [the fundamentalist Mormon community of] Bountiful, participants indicated that the fact that polygamy is criminalized causes them to feel stigmatized and looked upon with disdain within the larger community,” Campbell writes.

Because of that stigma, she says, they are marginalized from the mainstream and less likely likely to seek services or help for themselves or their children; they are afraid that they might be arrested, jailed or have their children taken away from them.

Campbell has filed two affidavits to support the position being argued by George Macintosh, the court-appointed amicus curiae or ‘friend of the court.’

The attorneys-general of B.C. and Canada are arguing that the law is a justifiable limitation on religious freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of association because of polygamy’s associated harms.

But there’s a chance that Campbell won’t be allowed to testify.

Craig Jones, lawyer for the B.C. attorney-general, is expected to challenge her before she gives testimony, because much of what Campbell writes in her affidavits and plans to say Tuesday is based on interviews with 22 anonymous women done on two visits to Bountiful over a total of 12 days.

But privacy contracts Campbell signed with the women mean that none of their names are available, nor are full transcripts of her interviews.

And that makes cross-examination very difficult.

Another expert witness – law professor Nicholas Bala from Queen’s University – has suggested in his affidavit that Campbell’s research is based on “a sample of women who are most positively disposed [to] this practise.”

Bala, whose affidavit was filed by Stop Polygamy in Canada, suggests that women whose experiences with polygamy were negative might have been intimidated into silence.

None of the women interviewed belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints even though half of Bountiful’s 1,000 people are members of it and even though it is the largest known polygamous group in North America with an estimated 15,000 members.

Campbell’s interview subjects all follow Winston Blackmore, who was Bountiful’s FLDS bishop until being ex-communicated in 2002.

Campbell rejects criticism of her research, saying in her affidavit that “my research interviews … offered a balanced portrayal of what their lives are like.”

Those who are in polygamous marriages “were able to identify, acknowledge and talk about difficult aspects of polygamy.”

Some others had “chosen monogamous marriage.” Yet, Campbell also explains that fundamentalist Mormons do not choose their marriage partners. Instead, they believe they are chosen by God, who reveals those pairings to the prophet when the time is right. In turn, the prophet (or the bishop) tells the couple, who frequently don’t know one another, of God’s choice for them.

Campbell offers no evidence other than unnamed women’s assertions that girls as young as 15 and 16 are no longer being placed in arranged marriages.

And she has nothing to back her claims that women are free to choose contraception, other than her assertion that “some” women told her that they wanted birth control that was “invisible” to their husbands; others had sought information about “natural birth control” and another who described contraception as “taboo” and “very frowned upon.”

  1. “Campbell offers no evidence other than unnamed women’s assertions that girls as young as 15 and 16 are no longer being placed in arranged marriages.”

    She won’t be able to prove a negative, the Govt has to prove that underage marriages are taking place.

    “And she has nothing to back her claims that women are free to choose contraception”

    Again, do you have proof that women are not free to choose contraception? Until recently the Catholic Church deemed contraception to be “illegal”.

    • agreed, proving that illegal activity is occurring is the responsibility of the crown, unless “innocent until proven guilty” got tossed out and no one told me.

  2. So are all these criticisms applicable to polygamy? or to the FLDS church? The author is concentrating on how the FLDS live polygamy.

  3. Saskatchewan has already concluded in two seperate constitutional questions act court cases (1999 and 2009) that Saskatchewan family law courts have the power and authority to authorize unmarried persons to be the same time spouses of married persons, without harm to the constitutional rights of the individuals or without invoking any defaults of the criminal code against polygamy. Consent of the parties is not required. It follows that a religious based authority should also have the authority to perform the identical consent and recognition of spousal status for members. If BC wants to criminalize only multiple spousal relationships that are based on consenting religious beliefs, that could be considered to be highly discriminatory on the basis of religion only. In that case, it is likely the Supreme court of Canada will toss out the offending legislation (s.293)as both discriminatory and unequal treatment of Canadians versus other provincial legislative laws and authorities.

    Winick v. Trustees-judicial finding in Saskatchewan:

    “As the formation of a common-law relationship does not require the solemnization of a marriage, there is no risk of violating the criminal sanction against bigamy.”

    “The formation of a common-law relationship is not hindered by the existence of a subsisting marriage.
    Mutual intention of the parties consummated by their conduct, perhaps with an expressive public component, is all that is required for the formation of the relationship.”

    The above judicial findings of the law seems to indicate that Bountiful leaders can quite legitimately marry a spouse and then take a number of other spouses under “cohabitation as spouses”. I think this is what Bountiful authorities said happened? If these multi-spousal relationships are recognized by governments, then it remains open to Bountiful polygamists to “claim” only one civilly married spouse and the rest can legitimately be recognized as common law spouses or “cohabitation as spouses” spouses. There is nothing illegal about family law courts authorizing non consenting subsequent spouses under Canadian law.

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