15 Nov 2010

Canadian Mormon polygamist at centre of constitutional challenge predicts doom for opponents

The Globe and Mail - Canada December 27, 2009

Polygamist predicts opponents will be 'damned'

by Robert Matas

Winston Blackmore, Canada's best known polygamist, foresees a year of doom for those that deliberately break up families or interfere with a person's freedom.

The B.C. Supreme Court is expected in 2010 to be grappling with the controversial issue of polygamy in response to a constitutional reference from the B.C. government on whether Criminal Code provisions prohibiting polygamy are consistent with the guarantee of freedom of religion provided in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The case is expected to reverberate across the country, with its impact felt by various religious and immigrant groups who accept polygamy as a way of life.

In a posting on his blog just before Christmas, Mr. Blackmore – a religious leader who police say has 25 wives – says he is reluctant to continue his custom of year-ahead predictions. “I have learned how to live just one day at a time,” he states in a blog on his website .

But after citing some aphorisms that he attributes to Jesus Christ, he changed his mind. “Maybe I will make one prediction,” he says.

“Here goes. This coming year will not be a good one for all you officers, presidents, bishops, counsellors, trustees, spokespersons, or any other responsible persons that deliberately break up families, interfere with the free agency of men, women and children, and cause an attack or assist in an attack, religious or otherwise upon any person or his family,” he states.

“This year will be the beginning of your end, and in the end you will be single, lonely, desolate and damned,” Mr. Blackmore predicts.

Mr. Blackmore is the leader of a closely knit religious sect of several hundred in southeast B.C. that split from a community of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints members. He was charged with polygamy earlier this year, but the court quashed the charges on procedural grounds, deciding that the government had unfairly gone “prosecutor shopping” to find someone to prosecute Mr. Blackmore after two independent prosecutors had advised against it. He did not respond Sunday to a request for an interview.

Mr. Justice Robert Bauman, Chief Justice of the B.C. Supreme Court, is to hear the constitutional case. Vancouver lawyer George Macintosh has been appointed as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) to argue that Criminal Code provisions prohibiting polygamy are unconstitutional. The federal and provincial government will argue that polygamy is illegal.

Judge Bauman has set a deadline of Jan. 28 for applications from any others who wish to participate in the case. He has not yet indicated when he might begin hearing submissions on the constitutional reference.

Although Mr. Blackmore's name is no longer on the court docket, he is expected to be at the centre of the constitutional challenge. He could be called as a witness or, if accepted by the court, simply participate in the case and possibly call his own witnesses.

B.C. cabinet minister Bill Bennett, who represents a riding near Bountiful, the polygamist colony, said yesterday in an interview he did not know what to make of Mr. Blackmore's prediction.

“He has been through a lot,” Mr. Bennett said, quickly adding that he was not expressing sympathy for the man.

“But he obviously believes in his religion, and his particular religion includes plural wives. So let's find out whether polygamy in this country is constitutionally acceptable or not,” Mr. Bennett said.

If the courts indicate the law is not constitutional, then the issue goes to Parliament “and they will have to decide whether they wish to have that kind of law on the books or come up with a different law that will be constitutionally supported,” he said.

Attorney-General Mike de Jong was not available Sunday for comment.

This article was found at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/polygamist-predicts-opponents-will-be-damned/article1413003/

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