Friday, December 30, 2011

Polygamy Reference to the Supreme Court of Canada?

The British Columbia government has not yet decided whether or not to send the polygamy reference result for confirmation by the Supreme Court of Canada. 

The Amicus Curiae, George Mackintosh has said that he does not intend to appeal the B.C. Supreme Court's decision on the validity of the federal law.


Polygamists Not Wanted in Canada

The Federal government has toughened its stance on polygamist immigrants to Canada.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Federal Immigration Guide - Polygamy

OTTAWA - Canada is hoping to crack down on polygamous relationships such as the one that's come to light during the sensational Shafia honour killing trial, according to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney who will unveil a revised guide for newcomers early next year that will addresses the issue specifically.
In a year-end interview with Postmedia News, Kenney said while polygamy is a concern he raised early on in his mandate, it's one that's been difficult to tackle.

``We leave no stone unturned to try to prevent what you might call polygamous immigration marriages, but the problem is that if someone comes to the country on a particular visa and then chooses to enter into say a religious marriage, it's never reported with the state in Canada and they never report it to us as an immigration sponsorship,'' he said.
``It's outside of our system.''

A Personal Story ......

When my family lived in Richmond, a group of Mormon fundamentalists from Bountiful, near Creston, visited our mainstream Mormon congregation extolling the practice of polygamy, also called the principle or plural marriage. They were looking for wives to add to their collections. They targeted families who had young girls.

Read more at:

Friday, November 25, 2011

RCMP on the Move

RCMP officers will be in Texas from Dec. 12 to 16 to gather information about underage Canadian girls believed to have been victimized by Warren Jeffs, the convicted pedophile and leader of a fundamentalist Mormon group.

Sgt. Terry Jacklin of the Southeast District Major Crime Unit said the officers will meet with state lawyers and members of the Texas Rangers to discuss the connection between Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), and girls allegedly sent to him by their families in Bountiful, a polygamous community in B.C.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Polygamy Reference - the Judge's Reasons

Almost exactly one year ago, Judge Robert Bauman began hearing evidence in the case to decide if the federal law against polygamy was constitutional or not.

You can read his decision at the link below:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Decision Day

Judge Robert Bauman, Chief Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, will hand down his reasons in the polygamy reference case on 23 November 2011. 

FLDS Bishop Convicted

A former bishop has been convicted of performing an illegal wedding ceremony between his 12-year-old daughter and polygamist cult leader Warren Jeffs.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour and 20 minutes before finding Fredrick Merril Jessop guilty with a felony count of performing the illegal wedding between Jeffs and the underage girl in 2006.

The ceremony took place at the Yearning For Zion Ranch near Eldorado, owned by the Jeffs-led Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Tale of Woe Caused by Polygamous Marriage

More and more FLDS members are "coming out" and telling the world of the pain they endured under the leadership of Warren Jeffs.  

Kerry Mcqueeney of the U.K.'s Daily Mail wrote on 22nd September about Elissa Wall:

A woman who was forced into marriage at the age of 14 while under the control of paedophile Mormon polygamist Warren Jeffs's cult has recounted her harrowing ordeal.

The woman, Elissa Wall, revealed how her own mother resorted to holding her daughter's hand at the altar in a bid to calm her down as she was forced to marry her 19-year-old cousin, whom she despised.

In a CNN interview, which is to be aired tonight, Elissa describes how she cried so much during the ceremony that her wedding dress was soaked with her own tears.

She told broadcaster Anderson Cooper: 'It was so devastating that even in the ceremony itself I'm crying to such a level that my wedding dress is soaked.

'They had my mother stand next to me and hold my hand just to get me to take my vows.'

Friday, August 12, 2011

Taking Credit ..............

The CBC today reported that the Barry Penner, Attorney General of B.C., is crediting his ministry with providing evidence to the Texas authorities which aided the prosecution of Warren Jeffs.

This morning the CBC website contained the following piece:

B.C. has been unable to win polygamy convictions connected to the religious commune of Bountiful, but the province's attorney general is taking credit for helping to prosecute American polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

Attorney General Barry Penner said his ministry shared information with prosecutors leading up to the life sentence imposed by a Texas court after Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, was convicted of sexually assaulting two teen girls.

"We shared [information] with authorities in Texas and I am told that it proved to be useful in the recent prosecution and conviction of Mr. Jeffs," Penner said.

Penner didn't say exactly what details were offered to U.S. prosecutors, but hinted that the information came to light fairly recently.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

RCMP Preparing to leave for Texas

A day after the sentencing of Warren Jeffs, RCMP members from B.C. are preparing to journey to Texas, in a search for evidence concerning the trafficking of young girls between Bountiful and the Yearning of Zion Ranch.

Will there be gnashing of teeth and quaking of knees at Bountiful, as the Canadian authorities make their first move since the beginning, last November, of the reference case in B.C.'s Supreme Court?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

British Reaction to the Jeffs Sentencing

The Warren Jeffs saga is the talk of Europe, and after his sentencing, today's Daily Mail featured a photo of his fifty wives.

Read more

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Contrast in Attitudes - Texas and B.C.

On August 5th, the Vancouver Sun's Daphne Bramham wrote a forceful article on the difference in attitude between Canada's concern about polygamy as freedom of religion, and Texas's proactive approach to accusing, arresting and convicting male polygamists for rape and pedophilia.

With the conviction of Warren Jeffs, and the revelation that he also sodomized his 5-year-old nephew, the Texas cases now reach their conclusion, with eight out of eight polygamists either in, or going to, prison.

Bramham wrote:

Laid bare in a Texas courtroom this week was the ugly, disturbing truth about the institutionalized pedophilia practised by polygamous leader Warren Jeffs and supported, tacitly if not overtly, by his 10,000 followers in the United States and Bountiful, B.C.

Unlike British Columbia, which has long failed to protect children as it dithered over whether religious freedom justifies polygamy, Texas aggressively pursued complaints about child rape and forced marriage within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Jeffs — the FLDS prophet — was convicted Thursday of child sexual assault and aggravated child sexual assault of a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old. He was the eighth FLDS member to be convicted in Texas since a 2008 raid on the church's compound.

Key to the conviction of the 55-year-old, fundamentalist Mormon leader was DNA evidence of his fathering a child with a 15-year-old and bizarre audio tapes. One tape was made as he ritualistically raped [a]12-year-old with others watching.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Warren Jeffs Finally goes on Trial

Warren Jeffs's trial is in its second day of jury selection. 

Here is a link to the CBC article: read more

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An Essayist Asks Whether a Liberal Society Should Tolerate Polygamy

Elizabeth Abbott, a senior research associate at Trinity College, University of Toronto, asks several thoughtful questions about polygamy in her piece published on 7th June in the Vancouver Sun.  She writes:

When the British Columbia government's polygamy reference case opened at the province's Supreme Court of Canada on Nov. 22, 2010, a stream of participants and witnesses, including representatives from the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children, REAL Women of Canada, the Christian Legal Fellowship, and academic experts, testified about the many harms associated with polygamy. Carolyn Jessop, who fled a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FDLS) community in Utah with her eight children in the middle of the night, summed it up well: "Polygamy is not pretty to look at. It is nice that it is tucked away in a dark corner where nobody has to see its realities, because it's creepy."

But George Macintosh, the amicus curiae appointed to present the opposing argument, came out swinging. He characterized Section 293 of Canada's Criminal Code, which bans polygamy, as an overly broad and grossly disproportionate law rooted in Christian prejudices, a law demeaning to polygamists. Women in polygamous marriages anonymously testified that they were happy, that they'd made the right decision. According to the CBC, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association argued that "consenting adults have the right -the Charter protected right-to form the families that they want to form." And the Canadian Association for Free Expression maintained that the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2005 strengthened the individual's right to enter a polygamous marriage.

The rights argument carries considerable weight in a liberal society. But rights can't be separated from the culture in which they arise. They are inextricably linked to institutions that form the backbone of a society; and in every society throughout history, the fundamental organizing institution has always been marriage.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Blackmore's Unpaid Taxes

While we await B.C. Supreme Court Judge Robert Bauman's decision in the Polygamy reference, things have been heating up on the unpaid taxes front for Winston Blackmore.

In today's Vancouver Sun, Daphne Bramham wrote:

The federal Tax Court is a genteel place, a white-collar court where the only crime being tried is tax evasion.

Unlike provincial courts, no sheriffs in bulletproof vests stand guard. Instead, a single commissionaire sits behind a desk on the sixth floor of an office building at the heart of downtown Vancouver.

He politely asks people to hang up their coats and leave umbrellas and bags in the closet. That done, he reminds them to turn cellphones off.

But high-profile polygamist Winston Blackmore brought some chaos into the calm world this week, along with his tax troubles, of which he has $1.5 million worth for the years 2000 to 2006.
He asked for unprecedented shielding of evidence and testimony. He wanted a publication ban and an order from Judge Campbell Miller that none of it could be used in any future criminal trial involving polygamy.

And if that weren't possible, Blackmore asked that his tax trial be adjourned until after the reference case on the constitutionality of Canada's polygamy law is finally determined or until any future criminal trial (with him as the defendant) was completed.

He didn't get any of it. But if his intent was to delay, that much he got at a price of $50,000 to be paid to the Department of Justice for its costs.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Thoughtful Piece

An editorial in today's Globe and Mail contained some thoughtful and cogent arguments.  The writer said:

Polygamy is an institution that is incompatible with a free and democratic society such as Canada’s. The Supreme Court of British Columbia should conclude that the anti-polygamy section of the Criminal Code – with some fine-tuning – is consistent with the Charter of Rights of Freedoms.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The End of the Beginning

In court on Friday, replies to final arguments were made, and in the Vancouver Sun Daphne Bramham described them as follows:

After 42 days of hearing evidence and argument about whether Canada's polygamy law is constitutional, it's now up to Chief Justice Robert Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court to make his decision.

In doing so, he must balance guaranteed individual rights to religious freedom, freedom of expression, liberty and association against the risk of harm to women and children.

On Friday, the chief justice told a courtroom full of lawyers representing Canada and British Columbia and nearly a dozen interested parties that it will take a while.

Even then, the case is unlikely to be over.

Whatever the chief justice decides, it will almost certainly be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Despite the unprecedented nature of the case - it's the first reference case to be held in a trial format - it has played out as expected.

The governments of British Columbia and Canada, along with anti-polygamy activists, women's - and children's - rights advocates and the Christian Legal Fellowship, focused on presenting evidence of polygamy's harms.

They argue that the practice puts women and children at sufficient risk of harm to justify limiting religious freedom as well as freedoms of association and expression.

In legalese, this is the Section 1 argument, which allows the federal government to use the "notwithstanding clause" to limit freedoms and rights set out in the Charter.

The amicus curiae (who was appointed by the court to argue for striking down the law) and his allies, including the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, polyamorists and civil libertarians, argued that the law is overly broad, criminalizing consenting adults whose conjugal relationships are benign and even beneficial for all involved.


Thousands of pages of transcript, written testimony, affidavits and reports of many kinds are now in the hands of Chief Justice Baumann.  He has the unenviable task of working through them in order to decide whether the present Section 293 of the Criminal Code is constitutional.  

This blog will continue to bring updates as we await his reasons.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Final Arguments End

In the Vancouver Sun, Daphne Bramham sums up the final day's arguments.  She writes:

If Canada's polygamy law is upheld, the court must clearly define the practise and spell out what polygamists must do to comply with the law, the lawyer for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said Wednesday.

Robert Wickett noted that when special prosecutor Richard Peck recommended a constitutional reference case to determine whether the law is valid, he did so because he believed that the fundamentalist Mormons in Bountiful needed fair notice that the status quo had changed.

In 1992, the B.C. government declined to prosecute two men from Bountiful because it had legal opinions suggesting that the polygamy law breached the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom and possibly the guarantees of freedom of association and expression.

As a result, there were no polygamy charges laid until 2009 when then-attorney general Wally Oppal decided that the best way to test the law was within the context of a criminal trial. He hired another special prosecutor who agreed. 

Winston Blackmore and James Oler -- two of Bountiful's leaders -- were subsequently charged with one count each of polygamy. Those charges were stayed after a judge determined that the second prosecutor was improperly hired.

Wickett made the comments Wednesday in his closing argument in the constitutional reference case that's being heard by Chief Justice Robert Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court.

However, Wickett argued that the law ought to be struck down because it doesn't criminalize the conjugal relationship, it criminalizes the specific intent to agree to a multi-partner, conjugal relationship.

In the Globe & Mail, James Keller summed up the final day's arguments in this way:
The polygamous families living in Bountiful, B.C., shouldn’t be ripped apart because some in the community may have committed crimes, a lawyer for the isolated religious sect told court Wednesday.

Robert Wickett, who represents the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS, didn’t deny the allegations of abuse, child brides and human trafficking that have become central to the debate about whether polygamy should remain illegal.

law against polygamy later this year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Anti-polygamy law compared to former prohibition on homosexuality

In court yesterday, the amicus curiae completed his arguments in the polygamy reference.

James Keller wrote in the Globe & Mail:

Canada’s anti-polygamy law is akin to the long-abandoned criminal prohibition on homosexuality, fuelling social stigma while forcing people in honest, committed relationships to live in shame, says a lawyer arguing the law should be struck down.

George Macintosh said removing polygamy from the Criminal Code would have the same positive effect as the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Anti-polygamy law a ‘relic’ that predates Charter of Rights, court told

At yesterday's session, the court heard again from the Amicus.  James Keller, in the Globe & Mail wrote:

The federal prohibition on polygamy is a relic from another time that imposes Christianity on all Canadians and violates their right to religious freedom, says a lawyer arguing against the law.
Tim Dickson, a lawyer appointed to oppose the government position at the landmark constitutional case in B.C., said Monday that the law was originally motivated by fears of Mormon immigrants flooding into Canada to practise polygamy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bountiful Girls v. Sled Dogs

In today's Vancouver Sun, Daphne Bramham takes issue with the alacrity with which the B.C. government has dealt with the sled dog slaughter, when compared with the snail's pace of investigation into child trafficking between polygamous communities in the Province and the United States.  

She writes:

A hundred sled dogs were killed when a Whistler business went bad. The B.C. government almost immediately set up an inquiry, and have backed its recommendation that stringent animal-cruelty legislation is needed.

Pity that there's never been that kind of fast and decisive action when it comes to vulnerable children in Bountiful.

After nearly two decades of dithering, out of fear that Canada's polygamy law is unconstitutional, B.C. initiated a reference case to determine the law's validity. It is now lumbering through the B.C. Supreme Court, en route, no doubt, to the Supreme Court of Canada in a few years from now.

Evidence in the case has revealed established patterns of trafficking, sexual exploitation and forced marriage -all of which supports allegations that have been made for decades against the fundamentalist Mormon community.

It also reveals a pattern of six decades of government "acquiescence," said Cheryl Milne of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children last week in her closing argument.

The government failed to protect the rights of Bountiful's children and continues to do so, she said, all in violation of international conventions on children's rights.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Amicus Speaks

George MacIntosh and Tim Dickson for the Amicus took the court through a wide-ranging rebuttal of defenders' arguments to this point.

James Keller, in the Globe and Mail, wrote as follows:
Canadians in relationships with multiple partners shouldn't be turned into criminals because of alleged abuses in a small, isolated community in British Columbia, says a lawyer arguing against the anti-polygamy law.

George Macintosh, a lawyer appointed to oppose the government at constitutional hearings, said Monday the current law against polygamy is far too broad.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Final Arguments Winding Down

Today George MacIntosh, the Amicus Curiae, began his final oral arguments in the polygamy reference.

Daphne Bramham, in the Vancouver Sun, reported as follows: 

If the B.C. Supreme Court strikes down Canada's polygamy law, the court-appointed amicus said Monday it must be society as a whole and Parliament in particular that determines the next step.

Lawyer George Macintosh made his comments Monday at the beginning of his closing argument in the constitutional reference case to determine whether the Criminal Code section that prohibits polygamy is valid.

Macintosh, who was appointed by the court to argue that the law is not constitutionally valid, said that the law must fail. The reason, he said, is that Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows only for “minimal impairment” of guaranteed rights and freedoms.

But Macintosh said the polygamy law is so broad that last week the five defenders of the law argued for five different interpretations of it.

The attorney general of B.C.'s lawyer argued that it should only apply to men with more than one spouse, not women.

The attorney general of Canada's lawyer argued that it applies only to people who have some sort of ceremony to formalize their plural relationships.

WestCoast LEAF wants it interpreted to mean only multi-party, conjugal relationships that are exploitive.
The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of the Child said it shouldn't criminalize children, while the B.C. Teacher's Federation argued that it shouldn't criminalize women.

Doug Christie, the well-known advocate for freedom from government intervention in the lives of citizens, was present and made an impassioned speech arguing the removal of all government input into life, love, marriage, morality, polygamy, monogamy, and any other quality of life that you can think of.  His message was "everything will be just fine if government just keeps its nose out of our affairs."  (And I use that word advisedly!)

Please note that there will be no more court sessions for the remainder of this week.  Arguments continue on Monday 11th April.

Friday, April 1, 2011

BC Teachers Support Canada's anti-Polygamy Law

As a retired teacher attending the polygamy reference hearing, I was deeply concerned when I heard evidence from several witnesses about the woeful educational standards that exist in the Bountiful community.  Low to non-existent high school graduation rates, the BC curriculum ignored or taught in a perfunctory way, poorly qualified teachers, and no critical thinking skills taught (as prescribed for Grades 6 and up).

Today, Robin Trask for the BCTF castigated the government's inspectors of independent schools for allowing the situation to deteriorate to the incredibly low standard that pertains today.


Daphne Bramham in today's Vancouver Sun gives some of the flavour of the lawyer's critique:

The B.C. government got another blast Friday for its failure to deal with the fundamentalist Mormon community of Bountiful during the closing arguments in the reference case to determine whether the current law prohibiting polygamy is valid.

Robin Trask, lawyer for the B.C. Teachers Federation, said the government has failed in its duty to ensure that the children in the polygamous community are getting a proper education. She blamed both the Independent School Act and the people who administer it.

On Thursday, Cheryl Milne of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children and the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights accused the government of six decades of “acquiescence” when it comes to Bountiful.

She said it has violated the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by failing to protect them from sexual exploitation, abuse, trafficking and by failing to provide them with the educational opportunities they are entitled to.

Several experts testified during the trial that poor educational outcomes are common in all polygamous communities worldwide. Witnesses who remain in Bountiful and who have left the community indicated gaps in what they were taught.

Freedom of Religion

The Christian Legal Fellowship made some interesting final arguments in court is morning.  Daphne Bramham in the Vancouver Sun  reported this morning:

Religious freedom is the most important guarantee in the Canadian Constitution and any limits on it must be taken very seriously.

That concern about limiting religious freedom is the reason that the Christian Legal Fellowship intervened in the constitutional reference case to determine whether Canada's polygamy law is valid, lawyer Gerald Chipeur said Friday in B.C. Supreme Court.

One of its purposes, he said, was to argue for “a generous reading of the guarantee of religious freedom.”

But the current law that criminalizes polygamy does not infringe religious rights, Chipeur said in his closing argument in the reference case to determine whether the law is constitutional.

Much of the evidence in the reference case has centred on Bountiful, B.C. where fundamentalist Mormons have been practising polygamy for nearly 60 years.

Ban Polygamy Now - or Never

Daphne Bramham sums up the BC Attorney General's closing argument at the link below:

The summations of other lawyers can be found at the links below:


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day Four - Attorney General of Canada

Daphne Bramham gave good coverage to yesterday's proceedings.  She wrote in the Vancouver Sun:

The lead lawyer for the B.C. attorney general closed his arguments Wednesday, and said 'the harms caused by polygamy cannot be easily addressed through the enforcement of child exploitation, sexual assault, procurement or other laws.

If the prohibition on polygamy cannot be supported by the evidence presented over the past few months in B.C. Supreme Court, it could never be supported.

With that, Craig Jones – the lead lawyer for the B.C. attorney general – ended his closing argument Wednesday in the constitutional reference case to determine whether the polygamy law is valid.

He took three days to review more than two months of evidence, legal precedents and answer the written arguments that the court-appointed amicus George Macintosh will make later in his closing submission.

Jones rejected suggestions by Macintosh and others that the harms of polygamy could be addressed by implementing stricter child-exploitation or trafficking laws or even more vigorous enforcement of the existing laws.

“It is a nice idea that the harms that go hand-in-hand with the practise of polygamy could be addressed if only the practise would be brought into the sunlight through decriminalization,” Jones told Chief Justice Robert Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court.

“But there is no reason to believe that this would happen. Polygamy needs insularity to hide the abuses that it requires to sustain itself through generations. It requires insularity to shield the methods of of control and indoctrination that will guarantee the next generation of willing child brides.”

He pointed to evidence – some of which has been filed and some which has yet to be filed – of a pattern of criminality by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Church marriage records, birth records and diary entries by FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs indicate that 31 under-aged girls were trafficked between Canada and the United States for arranged marriages with church leaders.

In exchange for their sisters or daughters, some of the men – including James Oler and Winston Blackmore, two former bishops of Bountiful – were given child brides of their own.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 3 - Final arguments

The day began with BC lawyer Craig Jones continuing his final argument before Judge Bauman. 

He finished by quoting from the testimony of Truman Oler, the "lost boy" from Bountiful who managed to make a life for himself outside that community, and who is now happily married with three young children. Truman's words, as he expressed his awakening to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, brought tears to my eyes when I first heard them several weeks ago in Courtroom #55 in Vancouver.   They brought tears to my eyes again today.

Once again, the CBC live stream made it possible for those of us who live hundreds of miles away to hear everything that was said.   

Today the Globe & Mail published the James Keller piece below:

A B.C. government lawyer says polygamy isn't illegal because it's a religious practice — but he says religion certainly makes it worse.

The B.C. Supreme Court is examining whether Canada's law against polygamy is constitutional, and the provincial and federal governments are arguing in closing submissions that the practice is inherently harmful and the law should be upheld.

Final Arguments - Day 2

It is gratifying to be able to watch the proceedings at home on my computer.  For the first time, not only do viewers get to see the faces of the lawyers, but we can actually hear every word that is uttered.  (So different from sitting in Courtroom 55, where the walls are padded with sound-reducing fabric, and where the lawyers and judge are some 25 feet in front of the public seating.)   I have always believed that justice should be seen to be done, but in Courtroom 55 something should be done to ensure that justice can also be heard while it is being done!

Yesterday's final arguments by the AGBC produced some interesting newspaper comments.  In the Globe and Mail this morning, James Keller wrote:

In late 2005, the now-jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs called two men in Bountiful, B.C., and told them to bring their 12-year-old daughters to the United States to be wed, according to passages from Mr. Jeffs’s diaries presented in a B.C. court Tuesday.

Mr. Jeffs, who was in his late 40s or early 50s at the time and already married to dozens of women, told the men the girls would become his new wives.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The first day of final arguments

I spent several hours today in front of my computer, watching the live stream put out by the CBC.  What an interesting session!  Craig Jones, lead lawyer for the Attorney General of BC set about refuting arguments presented by the challengers, and the final twenty minutes of his presentation were absolutely riveting.  (Please forgive my prejudice in his favour!)

Daphne Bramham wrote in today's Vancouver Sun

Lawyers for the BC government began their closing arguments Monday in BC Supreme Court in the constitutional reference case to determine the validity of Canada's polygamy law.

Both the provincial and federal attorneys-general contend that the law is constitutional.
But this is challenged by a court-appointed amicus, the BC Civil Liberties Association and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

"A polygamous society consumes its young," lead lawyer Craig Jones said. "It arms itself with instruments of abuse and shields itself behind institutions of secrecy, insularity and control."

Jones went on to say that is is "anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, anti-liberal and antithetical to the proper functioning of any modern, rights-based society."

He summarized the challengers' positions and began what is expected to be a two- to two-and-a-half day argument and refutation of those views.

The closings will also summarize key testimony from more than two months of evidence.
Jones dismissed the amicus's written submission as notable for its "haughtiness" and "over the top rhetoric." He said that belittled the suffering of polygamy's victims.

Jones said the amicus also demeaned the serious issues by caricaturing the attorneys- generals' lawyers of being discriminatory and prejudice.

The BCCLA's view that the law be struck down because there is not sufficient social harm to merit a criminal prohibition, Jones said, does "not standing up to scrutiny."


Further information became available today of the cross-border trafficking of young girls from Canada to the United States.  For more information on this, see Bramham's article in the Vancouver Sun at

At Last - The Link!

The final arguments in the Polygamy Reference begin this morning.  To watch the livestream on your computer, go to and scroll down until you see the black, grey and red screen on the right side.

There will also be segments on news broadcasts on CBC television.

I believe that proceedings will begin at 10am. (or 9:30), and there will be a ten-minute time delay in case something goes wrong in court.  It is expected that all the final arguments will be covered in this way - a first for a BC court - and they will probably take up to three weeks.

Good Luck!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Thoughtful Summing-Up

Daphne Bramham has offered a thoughtful summing-up  of the decision-making process confronting Chief Justice Robert Bauman.  On March 26th she wrote in the Vancouver Sun:

Ever since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enshrined in the Constitution in 1982, there has been a fundamental tension in Canada over competing rights and between individual rights and societal values. 

The Charter makes it clear that rights are not absolute. Section 1 says all of the rights and freedoms cited are subject to "such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society." 

That determination is left to the courts and it's up to Parliament to enact remedies.
Over the coming months, two court decisions -- one in British Columbia and the other in Ontario -- will highlight the chasm that can exist among competing rights and between rights and values. 

In British Columbia, the issue is polygamy with closing arguments in the case starting on Monday. 

Chief Justice Robert Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court must decide whether having multiple, conjugal partners is so inherently harmful to individuals and society it overrides an individual's right to act on "sincerely held beliefs," the right to liberty and freedom of association. He must decide whether those individual rights trump the equality rights guarantee and he will, no doubt, be cognizant of the fact that the majority of Canadians oppose polygamy. 

In June, justices of the Ontario Court of Appeal will determine whether a lower court judge was correct in striking down the criminal prohibition on pimping, keeping a brothel and communicating for the purposes of prostitution. 

They will weigh the right to security of person, free speech and association against the perceived societal harms of prostitution. 

In the polygamy case, the court-appointed amicus curiae and his allies, which include the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, take the position that individuals' right to choose is paramount.

Final Arguments - Proposed Schedule

At the link below you will find a schedule of final arguments, which begin on Monday 28th March.  This is subject to change, so check the Stop Polygamy in Canada website for adjustments.

I still have not been able to verify a CBC Livestream link; it appears that we will have to wait until the 28th for that.

Friday, March 18, 2011

More Closing Statements

Closing statements are now available from the Amicus Curiae, the BC Civil Liberties Association, and the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association.  You will find them at:

For a summary of the BC Civil Liberties Association statement, see

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

AGBC's Closing Statement

Below is a summary of the closing statement submitted by the Attorney General of B.C. in the polygamy reference.


Legalized polygamy will lead to more victims, lawyer says

Multiple marriage society 'consumes its young'
A lawyer for the B.C. government says polygamy "consumes its young" and warns that there will be many more victims if the practice of multiple marriages is decriminalized in Canada.

The comments by Craig Jones, lead counsel for the B.C. Attorney-General's Ministry, are contained in a 163page written submission filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

Last month, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman heard the final witnesses in the trial to determine whether Canada's law is constitutional.

The parties in the case are now in the process of exchanging written submissions to be followed by final oral arguments March 28.

In his submissions, Jones said the evidence "inexorably" leads to two conclusions -that polygamy has "significant risk" to women and children and significant risks to society at large.
"This is what we know about polygamy, both in theory and practice: a polygamous society consumes its young," he said.

"It arms itself with instruments of abuse, and shields itself behind institutions of secrecy, insularity and control. It depresses every known indicator of women's equality."

Jones added that polygamy is "antidemocratic, anti-egalitarian, antiliberal and antithetical to the proper functioning of any modern, rightsbased society."

For more, go to:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Texts Available

If you would like to read Warren Jeffs's diaries, go to 
and navigate through hundreds of pages of documents.  (It is indeed fortunate that Jeffs kept such detailed records.  They are coming back to haunt him and his followers.)

In the Polygamy Reference case, some of the final statements are now available here

Among them you will find statements of the Attorney General of BC, the BCTF and the Attorney General of Canada.  They make compelling reading.  

More should be available next week.  I shall be particularly interested in reading that of the Amicus.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It Never Rains but it Pours!

I have just finished reading the book Escape, written by Carolyn Jessop, who married Merril Jessop in polygamist Colorado City, and gave birth to eight children in the following fifteen years.  So dangerous were her later pregnancies, that after the final birth, doctors performed a hysterectomy to save her life.  She gives a harrowing picture of life in that polygamist society, and pulls no punches as she describes the impossible task of keeping sweet in her relations with her sister wives and her husband.  The daily grind of back-breaking work, the jealousies and depression in the household, the husband who ignored her except for occasional, perfunctory, clothed sex, are all described in painful detail.

Not long after the rise of Warren Jeffs to the position of FLDS Prophet, when he began to ramble on about the Apocalypse and the End Times, and introduced draconian measures into the daily lives of all his followers, Carolyn realized that she would have to leave.  She fled with her eight children in the middle of the night, and found friends and family members who were willing to help her make her way through the maze of social services in the outside world.  Merril Jessop pursued her, but Carolyn was able to obtain a restraining order, and was eventually granted custody of her children. 

A thoroughly good read about the way in which an intelligent woman was able to outwit the FLDS.


And today we learn of three more under-age girls transported to the United States in 2004, to be sealed in marriage for time and all eternity into the cult headed by so-called Prophet, Warren Jeffs.  

Daphne Bramham, who had done outstanding work throughout the investigation into polygamy in B.C. and the United States, wrote today in the Vancouver Sun:

Three more underage girls — including the 15-year-old daughter of Bountiful’s bishop — were transported in 2004 into the United States to become the brides of older men loyal to fundamentalist Mormon prophet Warren Jeffs, The Vancouver Sun learned Monday.

Last week, The Sun reported how nine girls — some as young as 12 and 13 — were secretly moved across the international border in 2004 and 2005 by their fathers and brothers to become “celestial wives” in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).

The new information comes from Jeffs’[s] diaries, seized by a Texas law-enforcement officer in 2008 during a raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch and used in the convictions of six FLDS men on charges of child sexual abuse.

The voluminous diaries outline in detail how men such as James Oler, Bountiful’s bishop, were rewarded for handing over their daughters with underage brides in return.

“I called Jim Oler last night,” Jeffs writes in June 2004. “And [I] told him to bring his daughter ... that Jim Oler would receive a wife, that Brandon Blackmore [of Bountiful] should come and receive training and that Brandon’s daughter should come and be married.”

The FLDS prophet instructed the fathers to drive their two girls to Cedar City, Utah, stay there and await his call.

On Friday, June 25, Jeffs performed 18 weddings. The first started at 11:13 a.m., the last at 6 p.m.

At 1:23 p.m. Oler was a witness as his daughter was “sealed for time and all eternity” as the second wife of James Leroy Johnson.

Eleven minutes later, the 40-year-old Oler took a 15-year-old American girl as his plural wife — his second marriage in six months.

And, at 1:45 p.m., Blackmore witnessed his teenage daughter’s marriage to 67-year-old Merril Jessop.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Diaries Witness to Depravity

While sickening to read, the diaries of Warren Jeffs are essential to an understanding of the workings of the Prophet and celestial marriage in the "Church" of Fundamentalist Latter Days Saints.  Jeffs's diaries, introduced before Judge Bauman as evidence in the Polygamy Reference, detail the seamy side of under-age children being taken from Canada to the United States for sexual purposes, i.e. to be sealed in time and all eternity as wives to Warren Jeffs.

Lawyers for the Attorney-General of B.C. hope soon to have leave to use all the new evidence, discovered only recently, as part of their closing arguments before Chief Justice Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court.  (That is, provided that no other lawyer raises objections during the 7-day grace period afforded by the judge.)

And so the lid on the sleazy practices of polygamy is slowly, inexorably being raised.


In Saturday's Vancouver Sun, Daphne Bramham expounds on the diaries and depravity of the polygamouspractices taking place at Bountiful.  She writes:
The ugly, depraved face of polygamy that some academics and civil libertarians refuse to acknowledge is laid bare in the detailed diaries of North America's most notorious polygamist.

The dictated ramblings of Warren Jeffs, prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, coldly describe how he demanded Canadian fathers and brothers bring him their daughters and sisters as young as 12 to be married, and how they conspired to get the girls to him undetected by law enforcement officers.

It's proof that B.C. government lawyers are anxious to get into evidence as part of the constitutional reference case to determine the validity of Canada's polygamy law.

In March 2004, Jeffs described how Brandon James Blackmore brought his 13-year-old daughter from Bountiful to marry him in Arizona. Twenty minutes after he married the Blackmore girl, Jeffs -49 at the time -married a 14-year-old American girl.

Earlier that same day, Bountiful's bishop James Oler had delivered his two 17-year-old sisters to be married to two other FLDS men. Oler had also witnessed the marriage of a 16-year-old American to Brandon Seth Blackmore. While she was still a teen, the American girl gave birth to a child in Canada.

This information comes from Jeffs' dictations, which came to the attention of B.C. government lawyers only a few weeks ago when Texas authorities asked for the birth dates of the two 12-year-old daughters of MacRae Blackmore and Spencer Blackmore, who were Jeffs' brides in 2005.

B.C. lawyers have combed the diaries and found details of eight Canadian child brides and one American one. It's evidence they wanted considered in the constitutional reference case to determine whether Canada's polygamy law is valid.

Aside from the ages of the girls and the parents' complicity in their exploitation, what's startling about Jeffs' dictations is the banality with which he talks about these girls and young women.

Mixed amid his recollection of marrying the 13-and 14-yearolds, Jeffs recounts a conversation he had with Oler where they talked about log and metal lathes and whether they could be sent across the border without taxes or duty on them.

He then muses, "These young girls have been given to me to be taught and trained how to come into the presence of God and help redeem Zion from their youngest years before they go through teenage doubting and fears and boy troubles. I will just be their boy trouble ..."

Now, I have a quorum of seven young girls."

Friday, February 25, 2011

RCMP Investigating Child Trafficking - The Floodgates Opening?

Today in the B.C. Supreme Court, lawyers for the Attorney General of B.C. won their appeal to have evidence entered into the record of the Polygamy Reference concerning the trafficking of young girls from Bountiful to the United States.

In her latest account, Tiffany Crawford of the Vancouver Sun confirms that the RCMP is investigating 8 cases of such activity (the penalty for which can be up to ten years imprisonment for the traffickers).  She writes:

The RCMP has launched a new criminal investigation and is preparing to visit Bountiful following disturbing new evidence that eight young teenage girls, some as young as 12, from the polygamist community near Creston were taken to the U.S. to marry older men.

"Obviously we can't discuss what we are doing in the context of the investigation but eventually we will have to attend [Bountiful.] But as it stands we are not there right now," RCMP Cpl. Annie Linteau said on Friday.

Linteau, a spokeswoman for the RCMP, said investigators received the evidence last week and confirmed they have launched a criminal investigation.

"We're aware of the affidavits filed by the attorney-general's office," she said. "We initiated an investigation into those allegations and the investigation is ongoing."

Linteau could not say what charges the RCMP might look at in this new investigation.
On Friday, Attorney-General Barry Penner said the polygamy case was one of his top priorities.

Trafficking of Under-Age Girls to Warren Jeffs

Excerpts from FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs's diary reveal that two members of the Blackmore family in Bountiful delivered their young daughters clandestinely to the United States, to be "sealed for time and all eternity" to Jeffs.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lost in the Shuffle (of Government Paperwork)

It has come to light only recently that three under-age girls were taken by their parents from Bountiful to Colorado City/Hildale, to be sealed in all eternity in “marriage” to the Prophet Warren Jeffs. Two of the the children were 12 years old, the third was thirteen.

Apparently a fax from the US government went astray once it reached Canada, and B.C. Government lawyers working on the Polygamy Reference were blind-sided by the news of this child trafficking when they learned of it only recently. They immediately set about appealing to the Chief Justice for the inclusion of this evidence in the testimony gathered so far. They went before Judge Bauman this morning with their appeal.

In an article in today's Vancouver Sun, Daphne Bramham wrote:

On Sept. 24, 2008, a government social worker in Creston got a fax outlining how four years earlier a 13-year-old girl from Bountiful had been taken illegally to the United States by her parents and married to Warren Jeffs.

Jeffs, who is the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was 48 at the time and a fugitive running from charges related to having had sex with minors.

The fax was sent to Wendy Wiens, team leader for the Ministry of Children and Family Development, from Angie Voss, a child protective services supervisor in Texas, five months after Texas authorities had raided the FLDS's Yearning for Zion ranch and taken into care close to 400 women and children.

But Voss wasn't asking for help. She was providing information and offering to answer any further questions that Wiens might have.

In her fax, Voss quoted from a document labelled the Record of President Warren Jeffs that was seized during the raid.  In it, Jeffs names a man from the FLDS community of Bountiful, B.C., his 13-year-old daughter and his wife.

"I sat down with [redacted] and his wife and his daughter, gave a training on the redemption of Zion in brief, in summary, and this girl was called on a mission; and they received it joyfully. And there [redacted] was sealed to Warren Steed Jeffs for time and eternity."

Attached to the fax was a copy of the marriage record for the unidentified girl and Jeffs dated March 1, 2004.

According to Jeffs' record, both parents attended their child's marriage ceremony, which was performed by Jeffs' brother and the FLDS Patriarch LeRoy S. Jeffs in Colorado City, Ariz., at the home of James Allred. It's not clear what, if anything, Wiens did with that information.

But what is certain is that Wiens, the ministry and then minister Tom Christensen must have known about allegations of child sexual abuse in Bountiful, Jeffs, the FLDS and even the Texas raid, which had been widely reported on.