Letter to San Francisco Chronicle by Jancis Andrews

Dear Blog Readers,

Jancis Andrews of the Sunshine Coast has been campaigning against and writing about polygamy in Canada since 2001. I’ve been at it since 2003. Jancis is a member of the Steering Committee of Stop Polygamy in Canada. Unfortunately, she is unable to join us in Vancouver. But, her pen doesn’t stop. Her research and writing are incredible. I’m lifting this particular letter to the blog.

Here is the link to the article to which Jancis is responding: 

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2010/11/28/INQT1GEP3E.DTL

Dear Debra Saunders,

Re. your article in the San Francisco Chronicle, discussing the present hearing (it’s not a trial) in BC Supreme Court which will determine the constitutionality of S. 293 CC, proscribing polygamy. The group of three female professors you mention are very much in the minority — the other three groups who were asked to investigate came out overwhelmingly against decriminalizing polygamy (the popular term) because of the documented harm the practice does to women and children. Many women such as myself abhor the stand they have taken, given the known harms. To us their action smacks of misogyny. We consider that these three professors have done women an enormous disservice.

Literally thousands of citizens, both male and female, and acting either as individuals or with a large, respected organization such as the Canadian Federation of University Women (10,000 members) and the BC Teachers Federation (thousands of members) have been urging the BC government FOR YEARS to prosecute the lawless elders of the polygamous community of Bountiful. In spite of police evidence (DNA samples plus birth certificates) that Winston Blackmore, who was the FLDS Bishop until he was banned by rapist-prophet Warren Jeffs, has fathered children by no less than nine underage girls, he has not been charged with sexual exploitation. This is outrageous. Teachers here who have sex with even one student are jailed — yet here is Winston Blackmore, getting away with his multitude of crimes! It was citizens’ outrage that finally forced an extremely reluctant provincial government to ask for the hearing on S. 293 CC — but they still haven’t had the courage to charge Winston Blackmore in spite of knowing they would win their case. The real reason, we believe, is that the government knew the case would drag on for years and cost many millions of taxpayer dollars. As a cost-cutting government, they preferred to turn a blind eye.

It is common knowledge here that the sexual exploitation of underage children CANNOT by law be excused by claiming it is a religious practice. That is what so enrages ordinary Canadians, who feel that by not prosecuting Bountiful’s elders our government is also acting lawlessly. By their inaction, they are aiding and abetting and encouraging the sexual exploitation of underage girls.

As well, on 19 May 1976, Canada ratified the Protocol on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that everyone has the freedom to practise their religion — but only to that point where those practices start to contravene another person’s rights.

On 18 October, 2002, Canada also ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which states that polygamy contravenes women’s equality rights and also harms their children.

As well, sin 1982, Canada brought into law the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states in sections 15 and 28 that women have equality with men.

Perhaps now you can understand why Canadians, particularly women, are totally outraged and bewildered by the lack of action against the polygamist elders of Bountiful!

What is really at stake in the hearing in BC Supreme Court is: Does the ancient patriarchal religious practice of polygamy take precedence over Canadian women’s guaranteed Charter rights to equality? That is the crux of the matter.

We don’t know why the question is even being asked. Everyone is aware that polygamy comes to us from the dark ages when women were considered chattels and had no rights. Men distributed women among themselves as if women were nothing more than sexual collectibles, to be herded as concubines into harems.

Concubines and harems have no place whatsoever in the modern world. Women — and many men also — want S. 293 CC declared constitutional. The year is 2010 AD, not 2010 BC.

If anything in this email is of use to you in a future article, please feel free to use it.

Sincerely yours,

Jancis M. Andrews

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by deci on November 29, 2010 at 6:49 am

    The age of consent in Canada was 14 until 2005 when it was raised to 16, thus Winston Blackmore cannot be prosecuted. Religious bigotry has no place in Western culture. The year is 2010, not Rosewood Florida circa 1923.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Gender neutral on November 29, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Jancis is quite correct in stating the government is possibly acting crminally by not prosecuting underage sex related crimes, if they occured. They should also prosecute on the basis of “authorizing multiple spouses”. This transgression is also in the present anti-polygamy law. Failure to prosecute these occurances, should also be a criminal act.
    However, on the polygamy front, the statements about equality with men is off the mark. When women are treated differrently than men,under law, such as not being charged with poygamy; also by allowing the BC Attorney General to claim polygamy is fine for polyandrous persons, then equality issues suffer in the extreme and cannot progress. Since the Federal AG claims polygamy REQUIRES a ceremony, whose definition remains unstated, what we have here is no consensus whatsoever, as to what the definition of a ceremony and hence polygamy, actually is. The wording of 2.293 is quite clear. The Federal AG doesn’t seem to understand that bigamy MAY require a ceremony, however, polygamy does not. A third grader could have read the law (s.293) and see that.
    Polygamy is “everyone who claims to have more than one spouse at a time, without divorcing the first and legistimate spouse (if there is one)prior to this claim. The claim would have to be be made in a provincial family law court, as outside of court, it wouldn’t really matter. Courts should not recognize or authorize multiple spouse claims, but they should tip police to prosecute the intended polygamy action. Cults and similar operations that denigrate men or women are a different legal matter unless part of the trangression involves multiple same time spoussal claims. Aso, everyone who either participates in, or uses some form of authority to sanction or provide external consent of a binding nature on potential participants or actual participants, would also be guilty of polygamy. BC intends to enact new family law legislation within a couple months that will allow married women (because they would be exempt from polygamy laws) to claim in family court to be the spouse of a person who has a spouse. At first this will take the form of married women being sanctioned by family court legislation( how is this different than a bishop doing a celestially authorised marriage?) to have “common law spouses” while still being in a civil marriage.(how is this different than Bountiful?) Then, married persons will seek the same rights and Canada’s laws on equality of treatment will kick in and polygamy will be the norm for some. When anti-polygamists use a narrow field of focus, such as womens equality, to state their case, they will lose. Most people familiar with the reference know the secondary purpose of the polygamy prohibition is to uphold the institutes of marriage, divorce, property, inheritence and related matters. Multiple spouses will muddy the processes to an unworkable state. Family law lawyers want this. It will be highly profitable for them. Divorces will invlove legal fees for years or even a decade of entaglements, when they involve many spouses. Spouses will not want to divorce some of their spouses, yet these divorces will be required first to settle property matters for the subsequent divorces, and the right to a speedy divorce will be a thing of the past.

    Reply

  3. Posted by k kin on December 1, 2010 at 12:00 am

    The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is exactly why this section MUST be overturned. Child molestation, forced marriages and all the other horrid things you talk about on this blog are ALREADY illegal, and S. 293 CC has nothing to do with them. Revoking S. 293 CC will not suddenly make child molestation legal, it will not make forced marriages legal, what it WILL do is allow those who are in that situation in a polyamorous marriage to come forward without fear of being locked up themselves.

    The only thing S. 293 does right now is harm. It harms my family, who would love to one day add a third or even a fourth to our wonderful family… and it hurts the women and children of Bountiful, because they are breaking the law simply by being they are less likely to report the crimes being done to them.

    Reply

  4. Posted by deci on December 1, 2010 at 1:01 am

    S.293 was originally enacted to directly target the Mormon religion. Until the 1950’s, the statute’s wording specifically referenced Mormons. Supposedly, the statute was reworded to be “more general” but the only 2 arrests under the law were against 2 men who were, you guessed it, “Mormons”.

    All this talk about “crimes” done against “women and children” in Bountiful is pure propaganda. In spite of years of investigations, there have been no arrests other than the “henious” crime of polygamy. Just because the media and anti-polygamy activists incessantly claim that rapes and abuse are occurring doesn’t make it true. But sadly, Joeseph Goebbels was right when he said “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.

    Reply

    • The rapes and abuses aren’t true? Get your facts straight! The RCMP produced an Affidavit in BC Supreme Court proving via DNA testing and the babies’ birth certificates that Winston Blackmore has impregnated NINE (NINE!!!!) underage girls. Men who have sex with kids are called pedophiles, yet so far Blackmore has not been charged. The rumour is that BC’s Attorney-General is waiting for the hearing in BC Supreme Court to end, then Blackmore will be arrested and charged with sexually exploiting nine underage girls. For thousands of Canadians, the arrest can’t come soon enough.

      Reply

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