BC appoints Special Prosecutor to investigate Bountiful

Dear All:

I have highlighted a line in this report that has been misconstrued by the press over and over again since Chief Justice Bauman’s decision was handed down.  I am quoting paragraph 15 of the decision:

“I would answer the essential question before me:  while s. 293 offends the freedom of religion of identifiable groups guaranteed by s. 2(a) of the Charter and the s. 7 liberty interests of children between 12 and 17 married into polygamy, the provision, save in its application to the latter group, is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.  My reasons for that conclusion and the specific answers to the questions on the reference follow.”  (My emphasis on the word “offends”.)

Nowhere in any dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedic dictionary can I find the word “offend” being equated with the word “violate”.  If anyone out there can find otherwise, please advise.  This is my plea to the press to stop misrepresenting the words of Chief Justice Bauman.  I find this misrepresentation very offensive.

While, Stop Polygamy in Canada Society is not entirely pleased that polygamy is not in newly appointed Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson’s mandate, we are very pleased that he is moving forward on the allegations of teen brides being trafficked across the border (both ways) for forced marriage in the polygamous commune of Bountiful.  This means that both parents of these girls, fathers and mothers could be charged and prosecuted.  There are those who may disagree with me saying that the women are only brainwashed and following the dictates of the male leaders; but, with the number of times Bountiful has been investigated over the years, the number of DNA samples procured, the times when charges of polygamy have been dismissed, these women know they are living outside the law.  They know they are helping to condemn their daughters to the same sexual crimes they themselves endured in their own forced marriages to keep the baby factories running at full tilt.  But most of all, it means that the men who married these girls could be charged and prosecuted.

Onward, Mr. Wilson.  We cannot wait for the charges to start being laid and prosecuted!

Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada Society

Subject: New prosecutor for Bountiful, B.C., but mandate doesn’t include polygamy

New prosecutor for Bountiful, B.C., but mandate doesn’t include polygamy

Winnipeg Free Press

By: The Canadian Press


VANCOUVER – A new special prosecutor has been appointed to look into allegations involving the religious commune of Bountiful, B.C., but his mandate doesn’t include considering charges of practising polygamy.

Instead, Peter Wilson has been appointed to consider charges related to the movement of teen brides across the U.S. border to marry much older men, the province’s criminal justice branch announced in a news release Wednesday.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled last month that the Criminal Code prohibition on polygamy is constitutional as long as it’s not used to prosecute children.

The attorney general has yet to say how her ministry will respond to that decision, but the news release announcing Wilson’s appointment makes it clear polygamy charges aren’t currently on the table.

“At this time, Mr. Wilson’s mandate does not include consideration of polygamy-related offences,” said the release.

Specifically, Wilson has been asked to look into potential charges including sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation, procuring prohibited sexual activity and failure to report a child in need of protection, among others.

A previous prosecutor announced this month he was no longer interested in working on the case, prompting the government to announce it would be appointing a replacement.

Two leaders in Bountiful were charged in 2009 with practising polygamy, but a judge threw out those charges because of how the province chose its special prosecutors.

Rather than appeal, the B.C. government launched a constitutional reference case to determine whether the anti-polygamy law violated the religious guarantees in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Residents of Bountiful are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, which teaches that multiple marriage will allow them to reach a higher level of heaven. The FLDS is a fundamentalist offshoot of the Mormon church, which renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

The constitutional case heard allegations that dozens of girls as young as 12 were spirited across the U.S. border to marry men decades older than them, while several American girls were moved to Bountiful.

Those revelations prompted the RCMP to launch a renewed investigation focusing specifically on the movement of children over the border. The Mounties have confirmed their investigation isn’t looking into multiple marriage.

In the end, Justice Robert Bauman concluded the law does violate the right to religious freedom, but the harm that polygamy causes to women and children outweighed that violation.

A lawyer appointed to oppose the government in the case announced last month he will not appeal.

The B.C. government and Ottawa have the option of referring the matter to a higher court, either the B.C. Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court of Canada, but neither have said whether they will do that.

Bauman’s decision is not binding on any level of government or other judges, as constitutional reference cases serve only as advisory opinions.

However, legal observers have suggested Bauman’s ruling will still have considerable weight if another judge hears a polygamy case, as it is currently the only case in Canada to examine whether the law is in line with the charter.


  1. Nancy, I don’t think you should be so offended over the use of a synonym for ‘offend’. In the criminal law an offence is a violation of a law.

    Offense: noun
    Definition: violation, trespass
    Synonyms: breach, crime, delinquency, fault, infraction, lapse, malfeasance, misdeed, misdemeanor, peccadillo, sin, transgression, wrong, wrongdoing

    Offense: The act of offending; a crime or sin; an affront or injury.

    In the Criminal Code of Canada, in the definition section, an offender is defined as “… a person who has been determined by a court to be guilty of an offence, whether on acceptance of a plea of guilty or on a finding of guilt”

    So, when the judge wrote that s. 293 offends the freedom of religion he was rightly saying that section is an offence, a crime, because it is an infringement or violation of a protected constitutional right. However, that infringement is justified by other provisions in the constitution, as he goes on to explain.

    In my opinion, the press report you cite does not misrepresent what the judge wrote, but accurately reports the fact that the law does violate the religious rights of some believers, but only to protect the rights of others.

  2. Here’s a tip for searching through web pages for words and phrases. I use the Chrome browser but this also applies to FireFox. I haven’t used any browser other than those two for years, but I think most should have the same Find function. This is an extremely useful tool that I use all the time.

    In your browser look for the Find function (in Chrome its under the icon that looks like a wrench) and click on that. A small window should open where you type the word or phrase you are looking for. That search will highlight every use of the word you are looking for. In this case I went to the decision at http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/11/15/2011BCSC1588.htm and entered the word ‘violate’, and then repeated that with ‘violation’

    In a word processor or pdf documents you can also use the same Find function. Look for that under the Edit tab.

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