WHAT’S GOING ON?
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.