The Shotgun Blog
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Selective prosecution of illegal 'conjugal unions'
The B.C. government announced today that is is charging two Morman polygamists under Section 293.1.ii of the Criminal Code of Canada, which makes it illegal for anyone to enter into "any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time, whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage..."
Does this mean B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal is now preparing to crack down on straight "swingers" clubs and gay bathhouses too, both of which, by definition or practice, facilitate "conjugal union with more than one person at the same time" -- in some cases, quite literally at the same time?
Something tells me that Oppal won't open that can of worms; it's much safer, it seems, to tackle a religious cult whose male leaders have been likened to child abusers.
If I remember correctly, the Bountiful Mormons haven't been prosecuted because it was feared that they would win on Charter grounds. I wonder if the government thinks that the "special prosecutor" could win? Will the "special prosecutor" route it will help in prosecuting the case as it looks now that technically the poygamous Mormons aren't being prosecuted by "the government"?
Posted by: Rick Hiebert | 2009-01-07 4:33:11 PM
The same officials remain silent on Muslim polygamy even though they are a much larger group. I do wonder why that is.
Personally I find it ridiculous that tax dollars are being wasted on such a witch-hunt, especially since it pertains to consenting adults.
Posted by: Alain | 2009-01-07 6:46:58 PM
So what exactly is "conjugal union"?
Is it a legally defined term, or is it a religious phrase?
Posted by: Steve Wart | 2009-01-08 8:45:47 PM
A conjugal union means "as in a married state". It applies to civil unions and also commonb law "marriages". Wally is gonna lose big time.
Saskatchewan has already allowed multiple simultaneous conjugal unions in their family law for over ten years. Once Blackmores lawyers discover this law they can easily claim it is unequal treatment not to allow him to have multiple conjugal unions. Blackmore doesn't need to use the "religion" discrimination argument at all. Several Saskatchewan people have tried to say they can't be the "spouse" of a person who has a spouse and each time the court has ruled it is legal.
Posted by: Janet | 2009-02-01 7:45:20 PM
The problem is not with the Charter itself, but rather with how the judges are permitted to interpret it. Their interpretations are far too broad. You could reasonably argue that the right to freedom of association is not the same thing as having a right to collective bargaining, but the judges ruled that that's the case, by what logic, who knows.
One could take the very same logic and argue that not allowing twelve-year-olds to marry is also unequal treatment, or not allowing nine-year-olds to fly airliners, or three-year-olds to purchase hand grenades. "But," I can hear you saying, "Isn't that simple common sense?" Yes, it is, but common sense is not so common--least of all in legal circles.
Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-02-01 9:53:21 PM
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