Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 3

Day 3 began with a spotty collection of snowflakes making their appearance. The wicked outflow winds were diminishing and the temperature rising. We are promised 10cm. to 15cm. of snow overnight. I am reliably informed by a kindly bus driver that drivers in Vancouver do not handle a new snowfall with aplomb!

But I digress …..... The first 20 minutes of this mornings proceedings were taken up with housekeeping, dealing with affidavits and witness appearances. Then the lawyer for the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children moved to the lectern. He pointed out that the UN Convention on the Child recognizes that children are particularly vulnerable, and that they have fundamental rights just as adults do. He also asserted that Freedom of Religion is not absolute.

An interesting moment developed when the next speaker, the lawyer for the Christian Legal Fellowship, told the the Court that he had journeyed to Turkey, and while there had investigated the daily life of the harem of the Ottoman Sultans! He spoke of a system in which one man enjoyed a multitude of wives, and guarded them closely, producing a situation where possible male challengers were know to have been murdered as a matter of policy. He said that the same harms were observed among the women in the harem as those that had been described yesterday by Crown lawyer Craig Jones. (Quite a trip for that lawyer to make in the name of research!)

Frequent mention was made throughout the day of one or other of the four basic harms caused by polygamy, and more than one counsel spoke of problems within a polygamous community.

Next came the BCTF's counsel, who argued that children's access to a quality education is almost non-existent in polygamous communities. She added that respect for religious communities is not an absolute right, and that there can be no limit set on the right of every child to adequate educational opportunities.

The final counsel for the anti-polygamy groups appeared on behalf of the group named Stop Polygamy in Canada, and reiterated many of the arguments already made.

This afternoon George Macintosh Q.C., the amicus curiae, began his presentation on behalf of no change in Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada. He declared that the hearing is about that section, and not about polygamy, and he also pointed out that 293 could hold women as well as men guilty of the crime of polygamy. Women could be held as co-defendants. The amicus pointed out that crimes committed in a polygamous community such as sexual exploitation, incest and assault could already be prosecuted under other sections of the Criminal Code, but, as pointed out yesterday by government counsel Jones, those communities seldom if ever report such crimes.

Read more about polygamy here

The Globe & Mail has extensive coverage of the amicus's arguments here

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