22 Nov 2010

Mormon fundamentalist leader rejects lesser status, seeks "full party" status in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy

The Globe and Mail - Canada February 19, 2010

Blackmore not granted leave to intervene in polygamy trial

Religious leader refused to agree to ground rules; appeal to be heard March 26

Vancouver — The central figure in a high-profile polygamy case has yet to find out whether he will be given leave to intervene in a constitutional reference to B.C. Supreme Court on whether the crime of polygamy is in conflict with Charter protections for freedom of religion.

Winston Blackmore's application was discussed at a case-management conference Monday after the religious leader, who once had 25 wives, refused to agree to the ground rules for participating in the much anticipated court case.

Mr. Blackmore has requested “full party” status, rather than the “interested parties” status awarded to the applicants by the court. He also asked for his costs to be funded, something not offered under the ground rules. A hearing to participate has now been set for Mr. Blackmore on March 26, at no cost to him, for a ruling on his requests.

Mr. Blackmore has indicated he would introduce extensive evidence of persecution and discrimination against Mormons. Also, he wanted “full right” to challenge evidence and cross-examine witnesses that portray him and his congregation in a negative light.

The provincial government sought a ruling on the constitutionality of the law after charges of polygamy were quashed on procedural grounds against Mr. Blackmore and James Oler, another religious polygamist group leader in southeastern B.C. The two men were members of a polygamist colony of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Counsel have been asked by the Chief Justice to block off Nov. 15, 2010, to the end of January 2010 for the trial.

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