Ask the Hammer

 …if you are filing your income tax returns and have both a new spouse and a former spouse (or 2) to whom you pay support. Otherwise, not so much as a recent Court Judgment has determined.

So congratulations to the justice system of Bountiful, B.C., and the B.C. Supreme Court, for finding the Blackmores, parents, of a 13 year old girl (11 years ago), who took her back then to the U.S. to marry the 71 years old leader of a polygamist cult, guilty.

This is the 1st Canadian ruling of its kind against a Fundamentalist Mormon woman (the mother) who is now sentenced to 12 months in jail, 18 months of probation and will be placed on the sex registry [along with the father] for 10 years. Bravo!

However, I don’t find these sentences to be anywhere near tough enough to deter further betrothals of young girls to old fossils in the name of some religion, but it’s a start.

The then 13 year old (now 24) girl was not the only daughter of this couple to be married off, which the Judge took into consideration as an aggravating factor. No kidding! So brainwashed is this young woman that she apparently wanted to tell the Court that she would serve the 2 jail sentences on behalf of her parents – sad.

Under our Canadian Criminal Code (Section 293) all forms of polygamy are illegal, including even some informal multiple sexual relationships, while under Section 290 bigamy is banned.

Nonetheless, even though the evidence of polygamist relationships seems to be easy to mount [no pun intended] given that the Law states that proof of intended sexual intercourse is not necessary, convictions have not been easy to obtain.

Under Section 293 EVERYONE who [even] celebrates, assists or is party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship (of polygamy) is guilty and liable to imprisonment.  However, the maximum sentence is only 5 years.  That may be fine when only dealing with adult polygamists but when a child bride is party to this dysfunctional arrangement the sentence for all the adults involved should be much stiffer (again no pun intended).

In the B.C. case, the accused [now convicted] Winston Blackmore, Canada’s most prolific polygamist, has 146 children via all his “wives”.

Just imagine the child support he could/should be condemned to pay to any of the brainwashed wives/children if they took action.

Blackmore’s brother-in-law however was acquitted (can’t imagine why) in 2016 from a charge of removing a child from Canada for an illegal purpose. That case is under Appeal.

It took 70 years to catch up with the polygamists practising in Bountiful, B.C., and yet the Criminal Code banned polygamy over 127 years ago. Why did it take so long? Because most participants won’t testify against the perpetuators and all levels of Government turned a blind eye to what was going on, instead fuelling the problem by giving child benefits, private school grants and funds for private midwives to this group.  Compounding that, local residents ignored the situation and the doctors and nurses who assisted the birthing mothers paid no attention that all the newborns’ birth certificates bore the same name for the father.

Egregiously, legal opinions stating that the Law banning polygamy was invalidated by our 1982 Charter of Rights (i.e. religious) and Freedoms (i.e. Associations), caused prosecutors to refuse approving charges laid by the RCMP.  The cult and its practises was even described as simply being a manifestation of multiculturalism, albeit a bizarre one.  Wow!

Finally, in 2009, charges were filed but that led to a constitutional challenge, however in 2011, it was ruled that the ban was a justifiable limit on freedoms of religion and association.

Did you know that polygamy is legal in at least 58 of 195 countries on our planet!  Yet there is some hope. India is hearing a polygamy case regarding Muslim practises, which infringe on women’s rights to equality.

The moral herein, if there is one, is that time catches up with everyone, one way or another.

Me. Hammerschmid has practiced Family Law since 1982; Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates; founding & current member of Family Law Association of Quebec (past Secretary for 28 years). Inquiries treated confidentially: 514-846-1013 or hammerschmid@vif.com © 2016 Linda Hammerschmid