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 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