Canada’s polygamy laws ruling released today

Today, Canada’s polygamy laws were upheld by the Supreme court.

I wonder how many guys are reading this today and are like,”My wives are gunna be upset about this…”

On a more serious note, this is crazy talk. It’s like drug prohibition. Drug use, like polygamy, should not be considered a crime, in my opinion. If you’re consenting and rational, you should be able to participate in either.

After writing this far, I was pointed to section 772 of the ruling:

The use of marihuana is therefore a proper subject matter for the exercise of the criminal law power. Butler held, at p. 504, that if there is a reasoned apprehension of harm Parliament is entitled to act, and in our view Parliament is also entitled to act on reasoned apprehension of harm even if on some points “the jury is still out”. In light of the concurrent findings of “harm” in the courts below, we therefore confirm that the NCA in general, and the scheduling of marihuana in particular, properly fall within Parliament’s legislative competence under s. 91(27) of the Constitution Act, 1867.

We do not agree with Prowse J.A. that harm must be shown to the court’s satisfaction to be “serious” and “substantial” before Parliament can impose a prohibition. Once it is demonstrated, as it has been here, that the harm is not de minimis, or in the words of Braidwood J.A., the harm is “not [in]significant or trivial”, the precise weighing and calculation of the nature and extent of the harm is Parliament’s job. Members of Parliament are elected to make these sorts of decisions, and have access to a broader range of information, more points of view, and a more flexible investigative process than courts do. A “serious and substantial” standard of review would involve the courts in micromanagement of Parliament’s agenda. The relevant constitutional control is not micromanagement but the general principle that the parliamentary response must not be grossly disproportionate to the state interest sought to be protected, as will be discussed.

This sets a very dangerous precedent.

We don’t make driving cars illegal because most people suck at driving. It will be interesting the next time someone challenges a more popularly accepted activity such as driving.
Let’s make sure we’re properly addressing what we deem as crimes, crimes with effective repercussions, instead of making anything remotely on the periphery of a crime, illegal.

[1310]  The Attorneys General submit that the evidence suggests that insofar as Muslims are concerned, polygamy is purely optional. As such, it cannot be seriously argued that the interference with the individual’s freedom of religion is serious in such cases. The adherent is not faced with a stark choice between compliance with the dictates of his or her faith or compliance with the law.

[1311]  With respect to fundamentalist Mormons, the case is rather more complex, as there is evidence that, at least doctrinally, some individuals sincerely believe that they must practice polygamy as part of their religion. However, the evidence also suggests that many members of fundamentalist Mormon communities can, and do, choose to live monogamously without running afoul of their religious beliefs.

Removing the consent part of a conjugal relationship stands out to me as the logical place where a crime has been committed. Again, forcing someone into a conjugal relationship is the crime, having multiple, consenting partners is not.

3 thoughts on “Canada’s polygamy laws ruling released today

  1. I side with you, Kris. On the face of it, drugs and polygamy are consensual crimes. But by clipping these activities by calling them crimes, they seek to crimp the related crimes (eg. child brides, sexual abuse, etc. that could exist connected to the polygamy environment). I’m in favour of legalizing drugs, but I understand the laws staying on the books to remedy drug dealer related violence or make drugs harder for addicts to come by. But if the existing laws were effective, we would have no Bacon Bros. shoot-outs and no addicts breaking into cars. The prohibition has more than failed, it’s aggravated the problem.
    In the attempt infanticize our population, we’re seeing more preemptive laws going on the books. The distracted driving law for me is the more bare-faced preemptive law. If you’re texting or tuning your radio you’re breaking the law because you *might* have an accident. If ‘mights’ and ‘maybes’ were valid, then they shouldn’t let stupid people drive; or let people drive with kids (talk about a distraction); or let people drive during rush hour.
    I was in a quandary when the BC Liberals kept the Legislature out for so long. I feel like it was a suspension of democracy. But I also feel like they froze the creep of legislation. Legislators are doing their job when they make new laws. But I question the need for more laws and would like the majority of laws be challenged and stricken.

  2. Women in polygamous relationships are at an elevated risk of physical and psychological harm, they face higher rates of domestic violence and abuse, including sexual abuse. There are higher mortality rates of children born into polygamous families, the dangers of early sexualization of girls, gender inequality, and the problem of so-called lost boys – young men turfed out of polygamous communities as a result of competition for young brides is well documented.

    Given all of that, you would prefer that the federal government not use a criminal law power to protect these women and children? Is there some other mechanism that you think is a better placed to reduce these harms?

    • Women (and children) in fundamentalist mormon polygamous cults are at an elevated risk, no debate there.
      Even the report says it’s not the case in Muslim polygamous relationships.
      In my generation, the notion of one partner for life just doesn’t seem realistic, or natural, any longer.
      Let’s not generate laws because of a few extremists, proportionally. If anything, we should be broadly widening, or even redefining marriage as we know it.

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