Day 5 Closing

Housekeeping Notes: 

  • CBC seems to have finally gotten it right.  The live streaming of the proceedings went smoothly today.  I wish to extend sincere appreciation for the service they are providing.
  • I am editing my notes for The Reference to include the statements and affidavits where applicable to make it easier for you to read.
  • On Monday, April 4th, Stop Polygamy in Canada will be the first presenters for the day.  Brian Samuels is the lead attorney for the pro bono team of Kieran Bridge, Jennifer Chan and Robert Deane.

Part I:  Attorney Robyn Trask of the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation opened the court proceedings today.

BCTF Final Submission , BCTF Book of Authorities Index 

I must make the comment that the BCTF has not been negligent over the years in decrying the abysmal educational situation in Bountiful.  They have been stalwarts for the rights of children and their right to a quality education that would teach them critical thinking skills and prepare them for choices in adulthood–something the FLDS simply does not do!

The BCTF submits that s. 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada complies with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The women of polygamy are forced into their marriages.  They are married to only one man which does not make them criminal under the law.

Harms to Education:  Professor Rose McDermott’s evidence is the best in the world showing that all children of polygamy are disadvantaged regarding education.  “. . .girls are less likely to be educated, restricting a key component allowing for upward mobility and economic independence.  In societies with high rates of polygyny, up to half of the boys are ejected from their primary communities, with incalculable effects on them.” at paragraph 23

Dr. Larry Beall, expert clinical psychologist who has worked for 30 years with polygamy in Utah, testified that children of polygamy are not taught critical thinking skills,  “In my observation education within the polygamist community is inferior due to the narrow scope of approved education and the lack of resources and teacher training.  Work needs to be done with these children to hwlp them catch up with their peers.” at paragraph 27.

2010-07-xx AGBC Aff, BEALL-Lawrence-D, and rpt re clinical psych experience and treatment of women from Mormon polygamy

Regarding inadequate instruction, Mr. Truman Oler, 29 year-old ex-FLDS man who left Bountiful when he was 20, “I went to school in Bountiful from kindergarten through grade 9.  I do not remember getting any practical education at the Bountiful School that would have prepared me for life as an adult.  When I was growing up, the boys were encouraged to leave school early to work.  The girls were taught that their role was to have lots of children and to obey men.  I do remember that we were taught religion for 1-2 hours per day.  We were taught that the boys should follow their priesthood duty, obey everything you were told by the prophet or the bishop and in this way show that you were worthy to have one or more wives assigned to you.  This was a lesson the boys and girls were taught every day, not just at school but also at home.” at paragraph 52

Ms. Trask submitted that the Province has failed in its responsibility to mitigate harms to the education of children in Bountiful.  No one inquired whether or not any of the young female students were married. 

Since 1991, only 13 students who have ever attended BESS have received Dogwood Certificates (name for high school diploma in BC).  at paragraph 76

Anonymous Witness #3 was not aware that universities in British Columbia required a Dogwood Certificate.  at paragraph 77.

Anonymous Witneww #4 was 17 when she moved from the States to Canada to marry.  Half a year later, her husband, who was in his early 40s, brought a 15-year-old from the States to marry.  They rode the school bus together.  at paragraphs 79-80

For their Charter analysis and discussion of International Obligations, the BCTF  submits that s. 293 is constitutional and that citing Articles 28, & 29 (b) & (d), wherein a child is guaranteed the right to an education that will prepare him/her for adulthood, Canada’s obligations are not being met!

Part II:  Christian Legal Fellowship, Attorney Gerald D. Chipeur, Q.C.

Filed Closing Submissions- March 4 2011 , 5893180_1_Additional Materials

In the Same Sex Marriage case where the Supreme Court of Canada  said “we conclude that S. 1 of the Proposed Act, which defines marriage as the union of two persons, is consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it follows that it is constitutional for Parliament to provide that polygamy is contrary to section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada under all circumstances.  at paragraphs 1 & 2.

“Far from restricting Charter rights, section 293 of the Criminal Code : a. promotes the freedom to associate under section 2 of the Charter; b. protects the right to life, liberty and security of the person under section 7 of the Charter; and c. preserves the guarantee of equality found in section 15 of the Charter.  at paragraph 5.

“Polygamy in all of its forms is harmful or potentially harmful.  In particular, this Court has heard evidence establishing that:  a. polygamy is abusive of women and men of all ages and limits both their freedom and their exercise of free will; b. polygamy is abusive of children by depriving them of a stable and secure home and because it can often lead to childhood delinquency and suicide; c. polygamy is socially and economically to women and children and to society as a whole; and d. polygamy deprives the public of the social and economic predictability associated with the current definition of marriage as the conjugal union of two individuals.  at paragraph 7.”

The Christian Legal Fellowship presented affidavits of two expert witnesses:  Dr. Shoshanna Grossbard (whose affidavit was included in my notes for Day 4; and, political science doctoral candidate at the U of A, Timothy Dunford who has studied the lost boy phenomenon of polygamy:


“In enacting section 293, Parliament has acted constitutionally in defining marriage as a union between two persons and in prohibiting acts that contravene such a definition.” at paragraph 46

Although the closing statement document for the Christian Legal Fellowship is only 13 pages, its additional materials doc is 198! 

Mary Mackert provided video testimony for the Christian Legal Fellowship.  She is the oldest child of her father’s second wife.  She is also the author of The Sixth of Seven Wives

Part III:  Real Women of Canada, Attorney Jonathan Baker

Expert witnesses:  Dr. John Witte, Jr., Jonas Robitscher, Prof. of Law, Emory University School of Law:

2010-07-19 AGBC Rpt, WITTE-John-Jr, re history of Western ethical and legal outlooks toward polygamy

Real Women of Canada is dedicated to promoting equality for all women. 

The harms of polygamy are the inevitable consequence of its practice.  The common law has for hundreds of years denounced polygamy because of its harmful effects.  Professor Witt’s evidence was that Polygamy usually caused or came with fraud, trickery, intrigue, lust, seduction, coercion, rape, incest, adultery, murder, exploitation and coercion of young women, jealously and rivalry among wives and their children, dissipation of family wealth and inequality of treatment and support of household members, banishment and disinheritance of disfavored children and more. (at paragraph 1.1)

Conclusion:  If only evidence before the Court came from Bountiful, British Columbia then the horror story could be dismissed as a cult classic–one that might have an equivalent in any monogamous community.  The opinions of scholars in a cross section of academic disciplines including anthropology, law, history and social science provide a solid basis for concluding that Bountiful is the predictable result of a Polygamous society.  There have been other Bountifuls throughout the millennia.  To the extent that Section 293 may deter others from entering into polygamous relationships in Canada or for that matter from entering Canada with the expectation of having such a relationship, it serves an important purpose. (at paragraph 7.1)

Note:  Dr. Witte’s research stood unchallenged through the court hearings.

Part IV:  West Coast LEAF, Attorneys Janet Winteringham, Q.C., Kasari Govender, and Deanne Gaffar presenting:


West Coast LEAF is the British Columbia chapter of the Legal Action & Education Fund for Women.  There are several other chapters across Canada.  The chapters comprise women attorneys and they are funded partially by the Federal Government. 

When West Coast LEAF refused to represent the interests of the Round Table on Bountiful group, Altering Destiny Through Education of Creston, B.C., Stop Polygamy in Canada which comprises of and works with not only the above groups, but also The Women’s United Nations Report Network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws International Organization, Women for Women in Afghanistan, Americans Against Abuses of Polygamy-Texas, Child Protection Project-Utah, Tapestry Against Polygamy-Utah, The Valerie Mackert Jeffs Gateway to Education Assoc.-Washington, and a large individual campaign membership list, we were left reeling, wondering what their position was.  Why were they turning away such a large group of women working for women’s rights in Canada?  All committees in Canada working on the polygamy problem, including Stop Polygamy in Canada, do not have any funding sources.  There is none to be had for our projects in Canada.  But LEAF does receive funding. 

Well, to sum it up, Lead Attorney, Janet Winteringham, Q.C., had this to say about Section 293, Canada’s statute banning the practice of polygamy, “I know of no other law that violates the Charter more than this one!”

In their summations, West Coast LEAF has forgotten that:

  • the federal marriage law of Canada stipulates marriage as a union of two people to the exclusion of all others.
  • that equality rights are breached by the very nature of polygamy, consentual or not.

West Coast LEAF did not introduce any expert witnesses to support their position.  They did not once mention lost boys.

West Coast LEAF wants the polygamy law “read down” because they take the premise that there is “good” and “bad” polygamy.  If West Coast LEAF has its way, Parliament will have to legislate a whole new roster of marriage laws to accommodate its arguments.

Nancy Mereska, President   
Stop Polygamy in Canada

  1. Hello Nancy,

    Thank you for your excellent coverage of the reference case!

    Thank-you for your recent comments on polyamory. Most Canadians have no idea that the practise of having three or more people sharing the same bed is on the increase in Canada! These polygamists like to pretend that it will be a healthy domestic environment for men, women and children. Rather, most of the ill effects of other types of polygamous relationships will be found in this ‘evolving’ family structure.

    All forms of polygamy are extremely harmful to human society. How can we, in justice, ignore one type while crimnalizing others?

    Monogamy is a tried and true type of family structure! We should not further endanger social stability by allowing the polyamorists to convince us that because it is practised with consent, it is therefore outside the reach of the law. Children have a right to a stable and healthy family environment.

    Barbara Gobbi

  2. Yes, I agree that the polyamory in all of its forms is evil and unnatural. While gays are allowed to marry in Canada and “pretend marry” in most of the US, there are good reasons why they aren’t allowed to adopt children.

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