A special prosecutor has recommended that the B.C. Court of Appeal be asked to rule on whether polygamy is allowed under the Canada’s constitution before any prosecution of members of the fundamentalist Mormon community of Bountiful in southeastern B.C.
Attorney General Wally Oppal said he will decide by the end of August whether to refer the question to the courts, or prosecute a case instead. Polygamy has been illegal in Canada since the first Criminal Code was enacted in 1892, but prosecutions have been rare and none has been tried since the modern Charter of Rights and Freedoms protected religious choice.
Oppal believes the law against polygamy would be upheld as a justified infringement of religious freedom. He said he is more concerned with allegations that young girls in Bountiful have been exploited sexually.
by older men in multiple marriages, but community members have told investigators they consented to the marriage arrangements.
NDP critic Leonard Krog urged Oppal to clarify the law as soon as possible.