Day 2 of the Reference

Dear Network:

Re:  Day 2, Reference Trial of s. 293 to test its constitutionality (s. 293 being the law that bans the practice of polygamy in Canada

Today AGBC’s attorney Mr. Craig Jones finished his opening statement.  Some highlights:

  • Polygamy can be compared to Slavery of the United States
  • The purpose of the polygamy law has always been to address the harms associated with polygamy. 
  • Original incest legislation was enacted perhaps millennia before we understood the genetic implications of incest.
  • Most challengers of s. 293 propose the broadest possible definition; grey areas include same sex multiple partners, polyandry (rare), and polyamory claiming that they practice “good” polygamy.
  • Polygamy must be restricted to polygyny and not polyandry, polyamory, etc.
  • Almost all of the harms that we are going to demonstrate are the harms of polygyny.
  • Legislators often use a general term to mean a specific term; e.g. polygamy = polygyny; laws about animal abuse—animal does not mean human.
  • Inherently harmful conduct does not justify claiming justification through s. 2(a) of the Charter (Canada’s Freedom of Religion Law)
  • The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) says s. 293 contravenes their right to group marriage.  In fact, s. 293 focuses on marriage and consanguinity.  S. 293 defines the crime of polygamy in terms of a relationship.
  • Note:  I’ve covered only two of five pages of notes thus far.  I’m going to attempt to bring the Statement of the AGBC up to the blog!

 

Ms. Deborah Strachan, Attorney for the AG of Canada

  • Parliament has a general interest to uphold the sanctions against polygamy: civil rights and liberties, it’s effect on society, its effect on individual women and children
  • Polygamy presents physical, emotional and reproductive harm
  • Polygamy leaves some young men with no opportunity to form a family
  • Polygamy presents systemic problems on society
  • If the court finds the reasonable apprehension of harm, then it must uphold the law.
  • If Canada were to allow polygamy, it would be taking a very backward step.  Countries around the world are generally against the practice of polygamy.
  • The analysis relating to international views and norms will show a general regard for prohibiting the practice.
  • Prof. Rose McDermot data from 172 countries will be presented.
  • Definition of “conjugal union” in s. 293 is interpreted as a form of marriage not civilly recognized by law.  “Conjugal union” incorporates an element of formality; a marriage-like ceremony.
  • Canada’s law is in harmony with international law with respect to polygamy.
  • The phenomenon of lost boys who are ejected one way or another and left on their own is a crime.

 

REAL Women

  • REAL Women is a proponent of monogamy, 65,000 members strong.
  • In the U.S. there is an absolute prohibition against addressing church doctrine.  Courts will sometimes take it upon themselves to investigate particular practices.
  • Will bring forth reports/studies from experts:  Mohammed Fidel (Muslim) and Dr. Walter Scheidel
  • FLDS presents a different story regarding freedom of religion.
  • Are sexual predators actually “God’s chosen people”? (laughter in the courtroom)
  • A finding that s. 203 is unconstitutional will be an insult to our democratic principles—“anti-democratic abomination.”

 

West Coast LEAF (LEAF=Legal Action Fund for Women)

  • Submits that s. 293 is consistent with the Charter insofar as it is read down to apply to exploitation of relationships only.
  • Reading down signifies maximizing the impact of the law.

Note:  Although West Coast LEAF is funded in part by the Federal Government, it is not taking the position that s. 293 is constitutional.  It wants the present law struck down and a new law written that will address only exploitation in polygamy.  Stop Polygamy in Canada asserts that polygamy itself is exploitive.  When a second “wife” (concubine, religious prostitute) comes into the picture, the rights of these women are denigrated and equality is thrown out the window.  Their argument is moot.  They are a body made up mostly of female attorneys.  If they had wanted s. 293 “read down” they should have challenged the law a long time ago.  Their argument has no place in the Reference.

Nancy Mereska, President

Stop Polygamy in Canada

31 Comments
30 Comments
  1. The AG has cleverly setup the opening statments to guarantee future failure of the criminal code prohibition on polygamy.
    By interpreting the current wording of s.293 to exclude polyandry, lesbian and homosexual multiple spouse scenarios (despite the current wording being “everyone who…..” ) he has setup future discrimination claims by men. Men will state it is unconsitutional for women to be allowed multiple spouses but not men. The AG opening statements claim he is not aware of polyandry in Canada, which is patently false. He has been made aware of state sanctioned polyandry in Canada many, many months ago and even replied to concerned citizens on the matter. The AG claims harm to women and children is the frontal part of the justification for the current s.293, however he is also saying women who have multiple spouses and the children of these relationships would not be hurt, as long as it isn’t the men who have multiple spouses. There is no doubt that if his interpretation of the act is upheld, men will win in supreme court when they claim discrimination due to their gender. Certain flds members will slip through this loophole and the women will simply claim they are spouses of all the men. No harm to themselves nor the children, according to the AG.

  2. If your readers want a deeper look, they’re welcome to use our archive of court documents.

    https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B-URIT52yhx4MDVkMDU5MDctZDM0Zi00ODQ4LWJkNWEtMWVjNmRjMGE2ZjQ0&hl=en

    Some notes on using the archive are in the announcement posting at

    http://polyadvocacy.ca/s-293-reference-starts-we-give-you-all-the-documents

    We don’t have transcripts as yet, because the final transcripts aren’t out for even the first day. Unless we’ve missed something, we do have all the written filings except the Brandeis material.

  3. For the AG to assert that women can have multiple sex partners but men cannot is so blatently discriminatory nothing more needs to be said. Basically, the Crown only has a problem with religiously motivated polygamy-Mormons in particular. Since the Polyamorists have entrenched themeselves into this case, it is creating real headaches for the prosecution. Thus, all the effort to twist and shape s.293 to make it only apply Fundy Mormons. I find it rather amusing to see the AG go out of his way to exclude everyone except Fundie Mormons. Anti-polygamists are actually anti-Fundie Mormons who want to see the religion eradicated, they could care less about polys and such. Which of course, makes it a clear and obvious violation of the Charter. As far as all these countless assertions of pedophilia, child brides,murders and what not…how come no one has been arrested despite countless investigations? If the crimes are never reported, then how do we know they actually took or are taking place??

    Can’t wait to see if the defense is going to ask the RCMP what the crime rate is in Bountiful as compared to other communties of similiar size in Canada, Remember, polygamy leads to high crime rates, thus the amount of rapes, robberies, murder, drugs, etc…should be much higher in Bountiful. n wha

  4. The Ag didn’t say women can have multiple sex partners. I doubt he cares. He said women and same sex couples are excluded from Canadas polygamy law. He says only polygyny is outlaweed and should be according to his analysis. In other words, women and same sex couples can have multiple spouses. Only men can’t. Polygamy lives on!

  5. West Coast LEAF…wants the present law struck down and a new law written that will address only exploitation in polygamy. Stop Polygamy in Canada asserts that polygamy itself is exploitive.

    Speaking as a long-haired hippie atheist in a loving, committed relationship with two women, I find this statement despicably offensive and narrowminded.

    You’ve dedicated your life to this cause, so I’m fully aware that nothing I say will ever change your mind. But Ms. Mereska, you’re arguing to deny thousands of Canadian families equal protection under the law because they remind you of abusive people they have nothing to do with.

    If there’s a problem with exploitation in fundamentalist Mormon households, then address the exploitation. Attacking every household of more than two partners because you despise Mormon abusers is like noting that drug dealers are disproportionately minority people, and calling for sanctions against all members of minorities.

  6. This statement is ridiculous :”Anti-polygamists are actually anti-Fundie Mormons who want to see the religion eradicated…”
    No Duane, most anti – polygamists are actually Moslem women who suffered under Sharia and / or polygamy and don’t want to see either instituted here. Open your eyes.

  7. There is no documented evidence that polyandry harms men or women – and the same is true for polyamory. The same cannot be said for religious polygyny, which HAS been shown to be damaging to women in the preponderance of published medical and sociological literature. There IS a difference.

    • Actually, the AG in BC received documented evdidence of harm from polyandry but must have chosen NOT to present it.
      He was sent 2 case law examples from Saskatchewan Family courts where men emphatically stated they did not consent to become the spouse of women who were married in civil unions and would not divorce their spouses by preference. Because the women lived with the men for 2 years they claimed the subsequent men as same time spouses and received one half of the mens property. In both cases there was no family court children related claims or desire to include support etc. In both cases the mens children lost their eventual inheritences and the men lost half their property. Financial harm was apparent. The mens children were harmed because they were told by the “live-in” women” were not their family, it was just a cohabitation of convenience. They accepted this until the found the courts forcing their fathers to become the spouse of a person who has a spouse. The mens children were ignored or treated like non family by the “loving women spouses” as is evidenced in the case files.
      If it is illeal to provide consent or assist with creating same time multiple unions, and the court provided the consent for the men in their rulings, then they are no different than a “bishop” sanctioning a multiple relationship? If the men did read Canadas anti-polygamy legislation at the time, they would assurredly have concluded that no government or family law court could force them to become “the spouse of a person who has a spouse”, which is Saskatchewans Family Act wording. Incidently, the case law read provides ample evidence of very harmful and stressful feelings of the men by being forced by an authority to become the spouse of a married woman, both of whom would not divorce their husbands by individual preference.

  8. There is no documented evidence that polyandry harms men or women – and the same is true for polyamory. The same cannot be said for religious polygyny, which HAS been shown to be damaging to women in the preponderance of published medical and sociological literature. There IS a difference.

    Which attitude leaves you three options:

    – Keep all plural marriages illegal, persecuting many loving, supportive relationships under an overbroad law.

    – Outlaw plural marriage only for Muslims and Mormons, sacrificing the pretext that this isn’t a matter of religion and opening the law to a much stronger Constitutional challenge.

    – Accept that criminalizing polygamy is an extraordinarily inefficient and dubious way to address the harms in question, and put this energy into prosecuting the harms.

    • There is alot of documented evidence that polyandry harms men, women and children. The AG chooses to ignore that which he has received.
      Dozens of citizens of Saskatchewan have been bilked by polyandrous women who remain married to their husbands, live with another person for 24 months and go to family court and actually cdlaim to have multiple spouses, receive half their “subsequent spouses” lifelong savings. This hurts the unmarried “subsequent spouse” immensely financially, hurts their children who used to think it was a cohabitation of convenience (do I call you mom now?..oh.. too late.. u are “divorced and took half my inheritence and my mom or dads savings”. Married people cannot marry civilly again until divorced. But Saskatchewan Queens Bench judges will happily “authorize”, “recognize” and force non consenting adults to “become the spouse of a person who has a spouse”. Can you spell coersion, hurt, loss of pride, childrens anguish, etc ?

  9. I’m sure we could find plenty of cases of harm involving polyamory along with the Amish, Muslim, Pentecostal, and fundie Baptist “lifestyles”. Notice how you specify “religious” polygyny, presumably you have no issues with “secular” polygny. How can this law not be in violation of the Charter if the same act is legal if not done as a result of religious motivation?? At any rate, polyandry is ok while “religious” polygny is a heinous crime. I was sharing this info with my female co-worker this am, she read the article about Zoe Duff, told her it was not fair that she could have multiple husbands but men can’t have multiple wives. She agrees that is patently ridiculous claim to make.
    At any rate, s.293 refers to “every one who…”, it doesn’t say “Mormons who…” or “Males who…”.

    • I sincerely doubt you’ll find any cases of polyamory among the Amish or most Pentecostals or Baptists either. Polygamy tends to be a big no-no among the majority of the Christian denominations, although there are those who embrace it. However, anyone among the Amish practicing polyamory would undoubtedly be shunned and probably exommunicated or disfellowshipped or whatever it is that they might do.

      • Rebeckah, I was referring to their DISTINCT lifestyles…polys separate from Amish or Pentecostals. NOT that there were Amish or Pentecostal polyamorists. An Amish polyamorist triad…bwahahahah!

  10. West Coast LEAF’s position is that the law is to be “read down” which differs frm being “Struck Down”. To read down a law, will not require a new law to be draft. It would just be read to be more specific.

  11. Duane,
    Religious polygyny is usually coercive, secular polygyny is not. There is a difference. There is no evidence to suggest that secular poly relationships are coercive or harmful.

  12. I don’t see government officials chasing any secular polyamorists, so why are they complaining in the first place ?

  13. Chatelaine: Most of what ole deci duane writes is ridiculous. He is sometimes referred to as ole liar deci duane..

  14. I don’t see government officials chasing any secular polyamorists, so why are they complaining in the first place ?

    Because living their lives as they see fit is a crime punishable by five years in prison.

    If Canada had an old law that made being Jewish a felony, but they weren’t “chasing” any Jews with it at the moment, would you be so contemptuous and dismissive of Jews who were “complaining” about it?

  15. Hardly an applicable analogy, Elmo. I am part ethnically Jewish. Most Jews are born into Jewish families and have no choice in the matter. Being Jewish doesn’t harm anyone, in fact, as someone who is ethnically part Jewish, the Jewish people are some of the most productive and positive contributors to North American society. Despite that, Jews have been slaughtered en masse throughout history and for you to make an analogy between your imaginary or non existent “persecution” and the sufferings of the Jewish people throughout the ages is simply ridiculous. Were you born a polyamorist ? No – you had a choice. I had NO choice regarding my ethnicity.
    Was it foisted upon you ? No. Were you brainwashed ? No.
    Were you coerced ? No – you chose your lifestyle. Where is the “persecution?”
    NO ONE is pursuing secular consenting adult polyamorists – and secular polyamorists have free will as well as the training, resources and skills to leave the relationship and support themselves if they so desire and you folks know it. You chose your lifestyle as a consenting adult and so did your partners. The same cannot be said of religious polygyny – religious groups foist it on young women, brainwash them, and deny them an education that would assist them to make independent choices about their own futures, their spouse, and their occupation, as well as living arrangements and reproductive rights.
    If the tables were turned and it was 50 year old Priesthood women “marrying” multiple poorly educated unskilled brainwashed young teenage boys in order to ensure “their salvation” and throwing their younger female competitors out on the street, you can bet that you MEN would be cheering for the arrests of the female Priesthood perpetrators and YOU would not be so contemptuous and dismissive of the suffering of those young boys –

  16. My goodness.

    …and for you to make an analogy between your imaginary or non existent “persecution” and the sufferings of the Jewish people throughout the ages is simply ridiculous.

    Read my post. I said “If Canada had an old law that made being Jewish a felony, but they weren’t “chasing” any Jews with it at the moment…”

    Nobody mentioned “persecution through the ages”. The analogy was to a hypothetical modern law that criminalized a religion but wasn’t enforced in practice. Substitute Jehova’s Witness converts, or Hindus, or atheists if you like, if you’re truly unable to think around the ethnicity element of Judaism.

    And kindly answer my question: if a law made your _religion_ (not your ethnicity) a felony, but that law wasn’t enforced, how would you feel about somebody who said “oh, stop your whining! Nobody’s chasing or persecuting you!”

    The bottom line is this:

    secular polyamorists have free will as well as the training, resources and skills to leave the relationship and support themselves if they so desire and you folks know it. You chose your lifestyle as a consenting adult and so did your partners. The same cannot be said of religious polygyny…

    Which is why the current law, which makes both a felony, is deplorably overbroad and unacceptable. Do you think laws criminalizing non-harmful behavior are acceptable when your government promises to only enforce them against bad guys?

    …you can bet that you MEN would be cheering for the arrests of the female Priesthood perpetrators and YOU would not be so contemptuous and dismissive of the suffering of those young boys –

    I’d despise the child abusers, call for them to be punished to the fullest extent of the law for their child abuse, and still advocate against the overbroad law that criminalized all polyandrous households along with the abusive ones–exactly as I stand now. Where on earth did you get the idea that I approve of the folks at Bountiful?

    By the way, I happen to _know_ a woman in a consensual polyandrous household, thankyouverymuch, and consider her rights every bit as important as mine. Kindly stop projecting your sexism on me.

  17. And your strategy to prevent COERCIVE religious polygyny, (Moslem and Mormon fundamentalist), would be what specifically, in terms of legislation – exact terminology please that would be included in the legislation –

    As far as most of us are concerned, the current law serves as a deterrent – as the government only selective pursues COERCIVE marriages and underage marriages and therefore has posed no threat to you and your colleagues –

    • The police forces, federal and provincial prosecutors have not really pursed any polygamists in substantial terms.
      Coercive multiple marriages…do they include state or provincial sanctioned spousal determination such as a queens bench family law court might be? They are the ones who determine if marriage like relationships are in fact spousal for the puirposes of provincial property laws relating to matrimonial assets between spouses. So, if a province declares persons to be the spouse of persons who already have a spouse, is that coercive if any of the spouses do not consent? The BC AG seems to think that the wording of s.293 (while plain enough) really only means polygyny and polygyny that is religiously coerced. If the government only selectively pursued murders and attempted murders that occured in patriarchical coerced religious environments, then the law would be a joke. Same thing with polygamy.

  18. Texas has a purported marriage clause in their laws. That phrase separates the secular, choose it themselves people from the religious, compelled as a child, not really a free choice people. Good morning to my ole buddy deci, duane.

  19. Anon,

    [shrug] Well, there you have it. On the Internet, when the other party in a debate refuses to address the issues, ignores questions, and defaults entirely to nitpicking analogies, shouting “how would _you_ guarantee that this problem will never, ever happen?!”, and justifying discriminatory and bigoted laws by sneering “oh, yeah, you’re sooo persecuted!”, you have to accept that you’re just not dealing with a rational person.

    Good day, and I only hope Chief Justice Bauman turns out to have a firmer grasp of the importance of civil rights and equal protection that you do.

  20. Hello “ale wife”, sorry I’ve been so busy during the Thanksgiving holiday, haven’t had much time to post. Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to all of those “south of the border”.

    The FLDS women will testify that they are consenting to their marriages, therefore it is not COERCIVE. Trying to rationalize one’s intolerance and bigotry by labeling polygamist women as “brainwashed” is nothing more than an excuse to trash the rights and dehumanize those whose values differ from you. If polygamist women say they are happy, then I will take it at face value. This reference case has been sooo entertaining so far. Per the Crown, women can have multiple husbands but men cannot have multiple wives, multiple relationships are ok if not sanctioned by a “higher power”, “patriarchal relationships” are a no no…they are determined to ensure s.293 only applies to Mormons, perhaps Muslims but no one else. A blatent and “can’t be more obvious” violation of Canada’s Charter.

  21. Anyway, this “reference case” seems like it is going to be quite a show as the government struggles to justify that s.293 applies exclusively to fundy mormons and no one else.

  22. Ole deci duane will say anything to protect his flds heros. There can be no consent if the child “bride” is under the age of consent.

    • In Canada, all of the supposed “child brides” were at the age of majority. Marriage in Canada requires parenetal permission between ages 15-19. Well, I guess that explains why Blackmore and others can’t be arrested for “underage” marriage as their marriages have been at or above the age of majority.

  23. ole deci duane is either ignorant or lying again. Probably lying again. Canada changed the aoc to 16 in 2008.

  24. Ale Wife, I got that info from the post “Day 3”
    “In B.C.one needs parental consent to marry between ages of 15 & 19”

    The AOC may be different than marriage age. In Texas, the AOC is 17, but if the person is your legal spouse then it doesn’t matter what the age is and you can legally marry at 16 with parental consent.

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