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.

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