Letter from Jancis Andrews, Esteemed senior member of the Steering Committee of Stop Polygamy in Canada to Barbara Kay’s National Post article, “The Stepford Wives of Bountiful, B.C.” published below

Dear Barbara Kay,

 Re. your trenchant article in today’s National Post regarding the complaisant “wives” (in reality, concubines in a harem) of the illegal polygamous community of Bountiful. What enrages immigrants like me are the forked tongues of the federal and provincial governments. I was assured that women have full equality with men in this country, guaranteed under sections 15 and 28 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Now I find that is a lie. What the various levels of government carefully avoid pointing out are the following documents that should have assured the ancient patriarchal practice of polygamy will never be allowed in Canada. 

1.  On 19 May 1976 Canada ratified the Protocol on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 18 (3) states that everyone has the freedom to practise their religion subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of others. Because it ratified the Protocol, Canada is legally obligated to uphold the provisions of this document. The Supreme Court of Canada has used it to curtail, for example, the “right” of Jehovah Witness parents to refuse blood transfusions to their children. 

2.  In 1982, Canada brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states in sections 15 and 28 that women have complete equality with men. 

3. On 18 October 2002, Canada ratified the Protocol on the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Equality in Marriage and Family Relations: 04/02/94. CEDAW General Recommendation 21. Sections 14 and 39 state that polygamy contravenes women’s equality rights and also harms their children. Because it ratified the Protocol, Canada is legally obligated to uphold the provisions of this document.

 Given these three all-important ratified documents, why are Canadian women being forced to watch their guaranteed equality rights being debated in BC’s Supreme court? Doesn’t Canada’s ratifying a Protocol mean anything? Does ICCPR mean nothing? Does CEDAW mean nothing? Are sections 15 and 28 of the Charter merely pretty words on paper that have no force whatsoever, and are meant merely to placate Canadian women and lull them into thinking they have equality? Are Canadian women’s equality rights to be downgraded in favour of male polygamists’ so-called “religious right’ to collect women as concubines in harems? 

I cannot tell you how disillusioned I am by the present hearing in BC Supreme Court. If ever an immigrant needed proof that Canada is a misogynistic country, this hearing debating whether or not the anti-polygamy law (S.293 CC) is constitutional is indeed that proof. Could you please consider writing about this contradiction?

Sincerely yours,

Jancis M. Andrews,

Sechelt, BC

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