SundayXtra - - CANADA NEWS -

Canada is on the cusp of ei­ther le­gal­iz­ing polygamy or strength­en­ing the 120-year ban on mul­ti­ple mar­riage.

That’s what is at stake in the con­sti­tu­tional ref­er­ence case that be­gins Mon­day in B. C. Supreme Court and is sched­uled to last at least un­til the end of Jan­uary.

The case was ini­ti­ated by B. C. at­tor­ney gen­eral Mike de Jong to fi­nally get a clear le­gal lens through which to ex­am­ine the fun­da­men­tal­ist Mor­mon com­mu­nity of Boun­ti­ful in south­east­ern Bri­tish Columbia.

If Chief Jus­tice Robert Bau­man agrees with those who favour le­gal­iza­tion, Canada would be the first coun­try in the de­vel­oped world to lift the ban. It would be swim­ming against a tide of crim­i­nal­iza­tion in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in Africa and Asia.

It would also likely be in­ter­preted as Canada putting out a wel­come mat for fun­da­men­tal­ist Mor­mons, who have been largely rooted out of Utah and Ari­zona and are un­der at­tack in Texas, as well as to Mus­lims, Wic­cans and sec­u­lar polyamor­ists.

Still, the judge’s de­ci­sion is un­likely to be the last word. His rul­ing will likely go to the B. C. Court of Ap­peal en route to the Supreme Court of Canada. And even if Canada’s high­est court strikes down the ban, Par­lia­ment would still have an op­por­tu­nity to rem­edy that, if it wished.

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