Day 9, Reference, December 7, 2010

IMPORTANT NOTE:  ALL THE NOTES I’VE WRITTEN ON THE COURT CASE COME FROM MY OWN NOTES TAKEN THROUGHOUT THE DAY.  (This in reply to a campaign member who asked me where all the notes were coming from.  In one of my “past lives” I worked as a secretary for an organization that did organizational work—believe me, I learned how to organize.  And at one time, I could write as fast as they talked, but I’m a bit older now!)

DAY 9—Reference s. 293—December 7, 2010

Dear Network:

It’s raining in Vancouver today—nothing unusual for winter I’m told.  The forecast is for rain for the next four days.  The only reason I’m sharing the weather report with you is that the cloudy skies seemed to set the mood for court today.  There were very few attorneys present today and even fewer in the gallery.  Two weeks ago when I first arrived, I had a cold but as I did my best to cough quietly into my sleeve, so did other people in the gallery.  Last week, a few attorneys were stifling coughs and sneezes.  Today, the cold seems to have risen in ranks as his Lordship Chief Justice Bauman had a box of tissues in plain sight and occasionally reached for their assistance as he apparently, too, has caught the Courtroom 55 cold. 

Chief Justice Bauman’s first matter of business was to rule that the Vancouver Sun and other media did not err in publishing the excerpts from the videos.  And, he is still reserving his ruling on the matter of whether or not he’ll allow reporters to interview people involved in the reference in the causeway outside the courtroom on the last days of the hearing.

Too many attorneys were absent today for there to be any mention of when those last two weeks will be. 

Mr. Gerald D. Chipeur Q.C. from the Christian Legal Fellowship introduced their special witness, Dr. Shoshana Amyra Grossbard, Professor of Economics, Editor, “Review of Economics of the Household” after she had taken the witness oath.  Dr. Grossbard is employed by San Diego State University and has been a professor of economics for 29 years. 

Dr. Grossbard has specialized in the economics of marriage including polygamy in Nigeria.  She admitted she had a neutral opinion on polygamy until she became acquainted with FLDS polygamy.  Polygamy is a widespread phenomenon.  She mentioned African, Asian, American and Jewish polygamy.  When asked where one would find Jewish polygamy, she answered “Kurdistan.”

Dr. Grossbard said that Christian polygamy is found in the FLDS in Canada and the U.S.; and, she only found out about those when she studied Bountiful.  She explained that polygamy is mainly a cultural event sometimes happening with religion.  She explained what she considered central themes of polygamy, themes that make polygamy harmful to women:

  • In cultural polygamy (African, Asian) the bride price becomes very “big” but the money is exchanged between the husband and the father of the bride—no money goes to the woman.
  • In all polygamy men find ways to limit the freedom of women.
  • Female circumcision makes it impossible for the women to experience any sexual pleasure.
  • Easy divorce—In Islam, a man only has to repeat “I divorce you” three times and the woman is left alone because her children belong to the husband
  • Women cannot choose husbands.
  • Early marriage increases the supply of women to polygamous men.
  • Purdah—or the isolation of women making it impossible for them to get out of their compounds.
  • Ideology of romantic love is not present in these cultures
  • FLDS discourage romantic love.
  • Polygamous societies limit opportunities for women to be in the labour force.


Dr. Grossbard said she has had no first-hand experience with Jewish polygamy.  Traditional Jews de-emphasize romantic love. 

Dr. Grossbard talked about France.  How in 1980 France allowed African immigration of polygamy but in 1993 stopped allowing it.  There are approx. 200,000 polygamous households.  France recognized the great harm this was doing to society at large.  Services are needed for these people.  Social workers are not adequately prepared to deal with polygamy. 

Some reports were brought up that I’m totally unfamiliar with so I did not follow very well the thread of the conversation but Dr. Grossbard  did say that there is plenty of hard core evidence regarding how the mental health of women in polygamy is affected.

Mr. Tim Dickenson, attorney for the Amicus cross examined Dr. Grossbard.  TD & DG for my notes:

TD:  Did you conduct field research on FLDS?  Did you conduct field research in Canada?

DG:  Said she doesn’t do field research.  Her research is from secondary data, i.e. data collected by others.

TD:  When polygamy is permitted, there will be a greater demand for wives?

DG:  Yes.  There will be more demand in the marriage market.

TD:  What creates greater demand for women is men wanting more than one wife?

DG:  Yes.

TD:  You have not set out any research that shows there would be more polygamy if it were permitted.

DG:  No.

TD:  The more commercial a society is, there is less polygamy?

DG:  More agrarian societies demand more wives and children.  I would not agree with you if you say polygamy would not spread if you were to legalize polygamy.

TD:  Referred to a paper titled “The Mystery of Monogamy”—where it is concluded that in poor countries where wealth is based on sections of land not capital, then men seek out wives (polygamy) to produce more children.

DG:  That is a purely theoretical paper.

More reference to a report I have not read so was not able to keep up with the questioning.  But, Dr. Grossbard concluded that “Men in polygamous societies will manipulate the environment so as to control the women.”

For some reason Mr. Dickenson brought up Valentine’s Day as a celebration of recommitment to monogamy.  Dr. Grossbard agreed with him, but there were smiles and muffled chuckles through the courtroom.

The second expert witness for the day was Dr. Zheng Wu of the University of Victoria.  He is a demographer who also uses secondary statistics for his research analysis.  He was called as a witness for the Amicus side.  Oh, dear, YAWN!  I was warned by one reporter that if I planned to stay the whole time for the hearing (which I now know is totally impossible) there would be some pretty boring days in court.  Well, I felt sorry for Dr. Wu.  He obviously is very remarkable in his field of research on marriage patterns, but had nothing on polygamy, used the term common-law marriage and common-law relationship interchangeably not knowing that in B.C. there is a difference—a legal difference.  Dr. Wu explained that because his reports are widely distributed, he does not have a legal definition in mind when he talks about conjugal unions in his reports.

SCHEDULING:  The expert witness who was supposed to appear tomorrow cannot so the court hopes to get through four of the video testimonies.  So the videos will start in the morning; instead of the afternoon.  Bring lots of tissue because I’m sure any sniffling I hear in the courtroom will not be just from anyone’s cold.

Until Wednesday, then,

Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Common law on December 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Can you pls explain the difference between common law relationship and common law marriage you mention?


    • Posted by st0pp0lygamy on December 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm

      Dear rastimoreytl,

      Common law marriage is an actual legal marriage in B.C. Common law relationship is not. The laws specifying a common law relationship were not mentioned. The emphasis here was on making sure terms were defined correctly.

      Thanks for your question.

      Nancy Mereska, President
      Stop Polygamy in Canada


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