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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Poll shows majority believe the criminal offence of polygamy trumps freedom of religion

Polygamy An Angus Reid poll released today shows that a strong majority of Canadians would welcome legal action against the Bountiful, British Columbia polygamous community. The highest levels of support for prosecuting the community came from BC residents, women and older Canadians. Here are the key findings:

» 62% believe the residents of Bountiful should face prosecution because bigamy is a criminal offence in Canada
» 19% think the residents of Bountiful are free to practice their beliefs under the terms of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

In a press release, Angus Reid explains that...

Earlier this month, British Columbia Attorney-General Wally Oppal said he'll decide "soon" what to do about the polygamous community of Bountiful. A report by special prosecutor Leonard Doust recommended referring the issue to the B.C. Court of Appeal, to decide whether Canada's laws restricting polygamy could endure a court challenge on the grounds of religious freedom.

Western Standard blogger Adam T. Yoshida has his own thoughts on this case. Read his post “How long before polygamy (formally) comes to Canada?” here.

UPDATE – April 27, 2008

You can also read Terry O’Neill’s article “Counting on polygamy” from the Western Standard archive. O'Neill asks the question “Will redefining marriage open the door to polygamy?” It looks like we’re getting closer to an answer.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on April 26, 2008 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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Yeah, right. Just like Nazi Germany. Have a bunch of kids and the state will support 'em. Christ all Mighty! Where does one draw the line. Relative sucks....

Posted by: dewp | 2008-04-26 5:24:43 PM

What is so appalling is that on 18 October, 2002, Canada ratified the Protocol on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which states that polygamy contravenes women's equality rights and also harms their children in that it impoverishes them and promotes psychological distress as the concubines (they're not wives) battle for one man's attention. Canada is legally obligated to uphold this document so why is there all this argument? Doesn't Canada's signature mean a damn thing? The Charter also states women have complete equality with men. Obviously,the government thinks women's GUARANTEED equality rights can be tossed out of the window. What a misogynistic bunch! I guess they're all looking forward to having umpteen concubines that can be collected into harems, just like the harems at Bountiful.

Posted by: Jancis M. Andrews | 2008-04-26 6:41:25 PM

I'd like to say that charges should not be laid against all the residents of Bountiful, because that means the women should be charged too. The women practise polygamy only because they've been brainwashed to do so since birth -- including lessons at their schools, I've read the Ministry of Education reports -- to believe they must practise polygamy and obey men, or their eternal souls will burn forever in Hell. The people who should be charged are the men who've had sex with underage girls (Winston Blackmore) and those men who've collected several women in a harem so that they can pleasure themselves, and to hell with the women's needs and their equality rights. This is a sick, sick cult, and government should have social workers and counsellors standing by in order to help people free themselves of its crazy tyrannical teachings. But for God's sake let the A-G put the pedophile Winston Blackmore in jail! He's got 26 concubines and 116 children so far, many of them by underage kids, and more in the offing. Do you want your hard-earned taxes going to support Winston's sex-fest? I certainly don't.

Posted by: Jancis M. Andrews | 2008-04-26 7:04:03 PM

OK Janice, let's separate the wheat from the chaffe. Fondle a minor and you should go to jail. Agreed.

The gov't says that several consenting adults can't sleep together so we should obey the great nitwits in parliament? Why all the argument? Don't you have a mind of your own? The discussion is morality based as opposed to "how well do we listen to gov't." It sounds to me like you were exposed to the cult of gov't at an early age.

Posted by: abc | 2008-04-26 7:16:53 PM

Where does the government draw the line? They go after polygamists, it's not legal here but Muslim men can come here with four wives and no problem. Is that not polygamy?

Where's the equality under the Law or the Trudeau Charter? Some polygamists are more equal than others?

Looks like the same mess we have with HRC's taking complaints from Muslims, challenging our right to free speech, they are treated as more equal on that front too.

What's happening to this country? Even common sense has gone missing, we're fast becoming a Leftist cesspool.

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-04-26 7:35:53 PM

Prosecute polygamy at Bountiful and in Toronto. Muslims have no more right to bring their cultural and religious norms to Canada than the pedophiles at Bountiful.

The pollution done to the gene pool through polygamy where cousins and half brothers and sisters marry up later on because not one can be sure whose related to whom guarantees a progressive lowering of the IQ and birth defects in our society.

We already know how whacked out Muslims are. Just look at the behavior of so many of them. How easily they are brainwashed into being part of the violent cult that is sworn to take over the world and you will get some idea of what I am talking about. The idots on the communes are no better even though their manifestations are the docile manner in which they go about their lives looking like throw-back to the 16th century feudal state where church and crown worked together to keep the masses stupefied.

There was a really good reason why polygamy was made illegal and that still stands today.

We live in a society that has become intolerant to those who have traditional values and overly tolerant to those who are tearing us apart at the seams.

Wise up governments. Do you really want to wind up governing a society of idiots. Oops I think you already are if one is to judge what the "people" are letting you get away with as you let the deviants get away with too much.

Posted by: John V | 2008-04-26 7:39:09 PM

HR is a sledgehammer designed to bludgeon people into submission. Just look around to see what is going on. Very, very few years ago, this was a cause for war. People have been cowed. We are no more free than the Sikh women who cower at giving testimony at the Air India trial. We are subject to honour killing just as the daughters of muslim tribal fathers. Stab us seventeen times and say we did it to ourselves. Stand up and be counted as free people. Do not give in to cowardice. You are being screwed and you vote for more.

Posted by: dewp | 2008-04-26 8:21:19 PM

Sick cults should not be allowed to operate in our civilized society but in Canada they have that Right in the guise of religion or ethnicity. Thank one, Pierre Trudeau for his Charter or Rights and Freedoms.
That same Charter also gave us Freedom of Speech and is the reason we have had Commie style set ups like Human Rights Commissions to take it away.
Levant and Steyn are two cases being dragged through their Kangaroo Courts just because some Islam/Muslim couldn't bear to hear truth which was not hate speech in any way. Who pays big bucks to defend themselves? The accused of course.
This is another example of the ill conceived Charter at work to line the pockets of the legals.
No one ever wins when they go before the Commissars and they lose a lot of money.

Free speech is a farce. It is not free in this country messed up by Trudeau's hairy ideas.

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-04-27 5:45:18 AM

Religious people should be held accountable for breaking the law just like the rest of us. I even believe that any family that forces religion on a child are "child abusers". Children should be able to decide for themselves when they are old enough to do so. Glenn S.

Posted by: Glenn Schneidmiller | 2008-04-27 9:35:06 AM

I take it you would be in favour in banning denominational schools of all stripes, at least in the early grades.

Posted by: truewest | 2008-04-27 9:52:39 AM

"Religious people should be held accountable for breaking the law just like the rest of us"

These are not religious people a**hole.

These are sick bastards/perverts who have learned to use religion as an excuse to exercise their control over people to achieve their end goal, the rape and sex with the underage girls.

Learn the difference before you bash religion idiot.

Posted by: deepblue | 2008-04-27 10:00:44 AM

Glenn’s comments show how quickly religious freedoms can disappear once we begin to place limits on religious expression. Glenn thinks it is child abuse when parents provide their children with a religious education at home before they are old enough to make their own choices. Fair enough, I guess. But can you imagine the impact on religious freedoms if child abuse came to include childhood religious instruction?

Glenn also makes the point that polygamy is against the law. But we all surely recognize that when laws conflict with basis rights, those laws should be ignored or abolished. The challenge is to define our rights clearly and to make sure our laws conform to those rights. It is also important that people challenge unjust laws openly and peacefully when possible. I think Marc Emery and Ezra Levant are both good examples of people willing to openly defy the law in order to bring the injustice of the law into public focus.

So is polygamy a moral right? Are anti-polygamy laws unjust? And if we restrict this particular religious freedom, what’s next?

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-04-27 10:28:58 AM

Thanks for proving my point "deep blue". I can tell by your reaction to my comment you must be a member of a certain religion. What's next? the religous "death stare"? or worse?

Posted by: Glenn Schneidmiller | 2008-04-27 10:31:15 AM

I beg to differ from most of the commentaries. Once the state decided to redefine marriage according to the latest fashion, the Pandora box was opened. One cannot reasonably defend common-law (shacking-up) and SSM while condemning polygamy among consenting adults.

Another point of interest is how the law and MSM are focusing on a small minority in B.C. while ignoring the much larger number of Muslim polygamists in Canada.

As for the claim made that children suffer as a result of polygamy, there is no proof of this. Children suffer much more from divorce and mothers with live-in boy friends, but these are now considered sacra-saint.

I know nothing of the religion or beliefs of this group, but I should be careful about declaring that they have no right to exist. Naturally I am assuming they do not practise human sacrifice, honour killings or ritualised murder, for in such a case I would then have to agree.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-04-27 11:39:42 AM

I would just like to make a point that I am by no means "Religious", or an "Atheist. I simply don't know what will happen when I die. I am just a Mortal Human. I would encourage people to go to the "Rational Response Squad" Atheist website and watch the debates between "Atheists" and "Christans". It's better than watching a good hockey game. And just a question on "Suicide Bombing", are they worshipping God or playing God? Just wondering. Glenn S.

Posted by: Glenn Schneidmiller | 2008-04-27 1:03:44 PM

The root problem is indeed, "Religeous Indoctrination". Ask yourself this, in particular woman and parents of daughters ..would we expect that our children having been able to reach adulthood without religious indoctrination would rejoice (because thats what marriage is supposed to be) at the thought of having children with a relative 35 years their senior? Show us were it happens outside religious indoctrination. I keep thinking about a tune by ...maybe it was /Commander Cody/ from my youth that went " If you don't like the way they grow them in the city.......grow your own". The product in question is different but the intent is the same... to have your own supply. Mr Oppal needs to show some leadership here. When human rights activists get behind the idea that children should have the right to grow up without religious indoctrination the statistics will change. This has been known for millenniums as in the Jesuit dictum – “Give us a boy, and we shall return you a man, a citizen of his country and a child of God”.

Posted by: David | 2008-04-27 2:30:50 PM

On this subject, I agree with Alain, and oddly enough, with ABC as well.

Posted by: gerry | 2008-04-27 3:28:43 PM

Typical progressive behaviour: Find a wedge issue to divide libertarians from evangelicals, pick on a tiny sect just trying to live free somewhere in the bush, play it up endlessly with creepy coverage on CNN... then hold a poll to prove "Canadians want action against these Christian child abusers."

I can't believe you guys at the Shotgun are falling for this crap. Pathetic. I think you've been in Canada too long.

Posted by: robert | 2008-04-27 3:29:35 PM

I didn't force religion on my son. I explained to him what religious beliefs were and what evolution beliefs were. I let him be free to choose. He chose evolution based on that the God theory of creation was too fantastic to rationalize.

The question always comes down to "How did we get here and why?" If you say God did it, then the question is "Where did God come from?" A fair question that is alway answered this way. "He was always there and you need to simply believe it without proof." That is not much different that believing that matter always existed in the universe and we cannot explain how it got there or why. We simply accept it without explanation. It all comes down to simply accepting that what is ... is.

We will not ever likely fully understand the hows and whys of our existence and that is something I will have to live with whether I believe in one thing or another. It's simply a mystery and I love a good mystery. How about you?

Posted by: John V | 2008-04-27 4:01:49 PM

It doesn't really matter to me whether you have more than one wife.  Just don't ask me to try to handle more than the one I already have.  The problem would seem to involve the welfare state that we unfortunately live in.  Since we have a great difficulty in getting rid of the free riders, why should we tolerate polygamy which puts us in the situation of having to support up to four wives (in the case of moslems) and who knows how many in the case of Bountiful.We have those who will tell us that they are able to support more than one wife and that may well be true.  Special cases will open the door for all others.Marriage laws are there to protect family members and especially children.  Since not all Canadians hew to a religion, only one set of family laws should apply.  Should we discrimminate against a specific religion?  No, we should make a specific application of the separation of church and state and discrimminate against all religions.That does not mean that mores should not inform laws.  It does mean that we should be very careful what we do apply.

Posted by: DML | 2008-04-27 10:34:16 PM

Surely, Matthew, you know - as I do - that polls don't matter here. Not only do they not matter to me (prinicpals being eternal), but they don't really matter to our cultural elites, who will shortly decide this matter in the affirmative, partly out of the sheer joy of supporting lifestyles which are "transgressive" and partly because they don't want to deal with the thorny legal questions that maintaing the ban would raise.

After all, pretty much everyone agrees that the people at Bountiful should be prosecuted but, I would put it to you that one issue which has not been much-discussed in public is that, if they were to prosecute the people there, how could they not prosecute Islamic polygamists as well? Never mind the Charter issues.

Polygamy, I believe, is simple to oppose from any but the most fanactical of libertarian perspectives. A ban on polygamy is a justifiable limit upon individual freedom for the simple reason that, as it is practiced in the world, polygamy is utterly immoral. There is a reason why the first Republican Platform called it and slavery "twin relics of barbarism."

Polygamy - as it is practiced - is founded upon the abuse of women and children. It is a practice which denies the rights of women by forcing them into marriages at young ages or, in any case, without their willing consent. That's how it is done in Bountiful and other dissident "Mormon" communities and that is how it is done in the Islamic world. That is how it is - and will be done here.

Unless you believe that there should be no government and no laws, this is a necessary and just law - one which, if enforced, would work to stamp out a practice which is both abusive and immoral. The compensatory loss of the freedom of consenting adults is minimal, at best, since I am personally aware, in many years of studying these issues, of not even a single example of a group of adults who wished to be legally married. After all, the kind of people into polyamory and the rest don't tend to be the kind into marriage. I'm sure there are some - but it's a handful at most and those desires surely, surely, do not outweigh the rights of thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands, which are being and would be abused by polygamy.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2008-04-27 10:54:44 PM

Polygamist societies are designed for violence, be prepared.

Posted by: philanthopist | 2008-04-27 11:55:56 PM

Adam, you can find abuse in traditional marriages as well, which would be a poor reason to ban traditional marriages. We have laws against the kind of abuses you mention in your comment. (Laws I support as they prohibit crimes against people and property.) So banning polygamous marriages is not necessary to deal with the abuses you mention.

Are there inherent injustices associated with polygamous unions? It may be that polygamy is an impractical and socially destructive arrangement that should be shunned and marginalized, but is it criminal by the standard I laid out in my comment above (not my post)? (Do you agree with my reasoning in that post? Does anyone?)

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-04-28 10:22:58 AM

The people of Bountiful are just another thread in the wonderful fabric of Multiculturalism.
We should be celebrating them rather than condemning thir lifestyle.

Posted by: gerry | 2008-04-28 11:35:18 AM

Matthew - you can, of course, find abuse in traditional marriages - but that's not true in the overwhelming majority of cases. The opposite is true in the case of polygamy. I cannot think of a single example of polygamy, as it is practiced in reality, that is not abusive - either through child-marriage, forced marriage, or marriages where the woman is left entirely powerless and as the literal slave of her husband. I don't think that any of those are acceptable in a civilized society.

All lawmaking involves balancing tests. In this case I believe that the clear balance is on the negative side and, further, that there is no method which will redress that, short of a total ban - since any effort to protect the rights of those involved in polygamous unions would have to be vast, would be resisted, and would probably be ineffective.

We have to make universal laws. One or two exceptions to the rule - people who might be victimized by the law - can't justify the foreseeable abridgment of the rights of thousands of others.

You know, there's the old argument you see made by many of these teachers involved in all of these statutory rape cases over the past few years, "they were very mature for their age," Perhaps in some cases that's true and, to those particular individuals, the law is unjust. But the law is there to protect everyone. If we repealed those laws to suit the one or to examples which were not abusive and, in fact, truly consensual it would mean legalizing the abuse and victimization of countless others.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2008-04-28 1:17:52 PM

-practice polygamy
- use mind control to educate their women and children
- use corporal punishment to control them
- keep them in a cloistered environment, away from the outside world.
-Force them to dress in a fashion not consistant with modern styles.
-use religion as their sole reason for doing the above

The Old Order Mennonites
-don't practice polygamy
-use mind control to educate their women and children
-use corporal punishment to control them
- keep them in a cloistered environment, away from the outside world
- force them to dress in a fashion not consistant with modern styles.
-use religion as their sole reason for doing the above.

The Muslims
-Practice polygamy
- use mind control to educate their women and children
-use corporal punishement to control them
-keep them in a cloistered environment, away from the outside world
-force them to dress inconsistant with modern mores
-use religion as their sole reason for doing the above.

So, why do we tolerate the second and third, but not the first?

Posted by: gerry | 2008-04-28 3:46:52 PM

Gerry,you make some very interesting points and questions.Getting off the subject a bit, you could also include the other 10,000 or so religions,of the world that may or may not use mind control etc. Glenn S.

Posted by: Glenn Schneidmiller | 2008-05-02 11:06:07 AM

Philanthropist: I don't quite see the "design for violence" in polygamy, although I'm not well acquainted with it. If you mean that living under a structured entity that will use force to achieve their ends, then you must fear your own gov't.

I don't really care how people choose to live as long as no force is permitted. That would equate them to gov't and we all know how destructive that is. Do we all amount to one big Amish community?

Posted by: abc | 2008-05-02 11:44:16 AM


My religion believes it's a good thing to be able to control your own mind.

And, it does not seek to control anybody else's.

Self-control is a tough enough task.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-05-02 12:02:13 PM

SYF: Your religion may not seem to control your mind, but I'm sure there is some sort of influence. That influence usually starts at the pulpit.

Posted by: abc | 2008-05-02 12:12:02 PM


Would that be sorta like the teachers you've had during your life?

Did they have any influence on your worldview?

Same type of thing, near as I can figure out.

I hope you're not suggesting that knowledge is some type of absorbed process like osmosis, gained without teachers, parents and even friends with some experience?

There are many different ways we can come to our own conclusions. Most human beings (are you the exception?) welcome some guidance.

My church is a place I can learn, offering life lessons the same way that my parents, my teachers and my friends all had their own insights.

There's one way to prove my theory and that's by asking you a question.

Who controls your mind?

Posted by: set you free | 2008-05-02 12:20:15 PM

A good question SYF:

Everything has an influence on one's mind. The challenge is to seperate the BS from misleading influence. The gov't has the media. The army uses basic training where it keeps you tired and drills the killer instinct into you. And...religion has the pulpit. So, the polygamists weren't without influence, but neither are you and I.

The only question is the use of force.
The media shouldn't be forced to spew the gov't line.
A person shouldn't be forced into the army or into a polygamist society or into a gov't school.
And, you and I shouldn't be forced into a church.
Force is the issue, not influence.

Posted by: abc | 2008-05-02 12:36:39 PM

I compliment you, SYF for using your ability to think, rather than punch in a google search like our mutual economics (and economically?) challenged friend.

Posted by: abc | 2008-05-02 12:40:40 PM


I would never think of forcing you into my church.

Matter of fact, I did leave it for a decade and returned on my own free will because I understood something was missing.

By that same line of logic, anybody is free to take night classes if they feel there's some type of knowledge vaccum.

As long as I have been going to my church and knowing the 2000-year history of my church, I'm not sure I've even heard of one case of anybody being forced to attend.

Would you consider the example of compulsory attendance until age 16 into a public education system a form of forcing?

To be honest, it's your use of the word ‘forcing' that seems something we have to define.

If children are born into a polygamist tradition, does that imply they are forced into it because we do not disagree with the idea?

Posted by: set you free | 2008-05-02 12:49:41 PM

That seems to be a question of parenting. Parents may force their children into doing what they think they should. But, the gov't shouldn't be permitted to do the same.

As far as polygamy. The children may be forced to live on the farm by their parents, but may not consent to force them to face criminal acts, such as rape.

In short - The gov't only has the right to step in when a crime against a person or property is involved. Reasonable "parenting" is subjective. Criminal acts are not.

Posted by: abc | 2008-05-02 1:12:37 PM


Once again, the use of the word ‘force.'

I'm unsure there's any malicious intent the word ‘force' implies.

I guess the state would have to prove malicious intent on behalf of the parents, whoever they are. Guess that's why they're doing DNA tests.

But a bit of history may be in order. Off the top of my head, Utah was accepted into the union in 1896 only when Mormons renounced polygamy.

That was consistent with the First Amendment, in which people were decreed freedom of a religion imposed on them by the state.

Members of this breakaway sect are clearly in contravention of the agreement between the US gov't of the day and the cult's leaders of the day.

Should be interesting to see how many will end up in Bountiful, given Canada's lax enforcement of the traditional definition of marriage.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-05-02 1:47:51 PM

"Force" doesn't neccesarily mean malicious. Spanking a child is force, but a parent has a right to do it. The question is who has the right to apply it.

I don't care about agreements made between Utah and the USA. States are just a pile of stolen money. As long as you live without harming others, the state has no right to discipline you.

In the case of these particular polygamists, it would seem some sort of coercion was applied. A mom cannot consent to let her child be raped by a man. I don't believe children can consent to have sex with an adult. So, if the children did it willingly, why? What coerced them? It's very possible they didn't do it willingly at all and an immoral "force" was used.

Posted by: abc | 2008-05-02 1:59:09 PM


So, going back to the original premise of the post, which dealt with Bountiful ... if I were asked the question, I would agree with the majority.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-05-02 2:20:29 PM

Polygamy by itself is not a moral crime. What goes on in a polygamist society could be a moral crime.

But, if we had crime going on in a bigger entity (Canada) should we disband the nation? Most people would say "no" just address the crime. Same goes for a polygamist farm.

Posted by: abc | 2008-05-02 2:45:57 PM

Set you free I agree I have neverbeen "forced" into any religion, but if you belong to any religion that has to do with The Holy Bible King James version, I should be "put to death" for blasphemeing the Lord. [Leviticus,25:16], and thats just one of the "nasty quotes" in the good book. Should we teach this to our children? Glenn S.

Posted by: Glenn Schneidmiller | 2008-05-02 4:59:30 PM

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