Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

BC going to Supreme Court over polygamy case

The provincial government will ask the B.C. Supreme Court for an opinion on whether polygamy is legal under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In a news release on Thursday, Attorney General Michael de Jong explained the reason for the request:

"I have today asked legal counsel for the Ministry of Attorney General to request the B.C. Supreme Court's direction on two reference questions on polygamy (Sec. 293, Criminal Code of Canada).

"After discussion with legal counsel, I have come to the conclusion that to appeal the court's ruling quashing the decision to proceed with the recent criminal prosecution would be inadvisable while questions persist concerning the constitutionality of Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

"Until Canadians and the justice system have clarity about the constitutionality of our polygamy laws, all provinces, including ours, face a lengthy and costly legal process in prosecuting alleged offences. With that in mind, I have instructed counsel not to appeal the Sept. 23 B.C. Supreme Court decision and, instead, to proceed with the reference questions I will be submitting to the court.

"I am proposing to pose two questions. The first will ask the court to determine if Section 293 is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The second will seek clarity on the Criminal Code provisions of Section 293. I am confident, given the importance of this matter, the court will agree to hear the questions.

"...British Columbians and Canadians deserve and want to know whether valid laws are in place that prohibit polygamous relationships, particularly when those relationships involve minors. I am asking the court for its direction so the justice system, in B.C. and in Canada, can address the serious social harms that can result from the practice of polygamy."

Meanwhile, polygamist Winston Blackmore is giving advice on his blog to other polygamist husbands on how to keep peace between jealous wives, and how to deal with rebellious teenagers.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus