Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Polygamy is Already Legally Recognized in Canada... Sort of

Did you know that polygamous marriages have been legally recognized in Canada to award spousal support and inheritance payments? Yup, just found out myself this afternoon. Kathleen Harris of Sun Media's Ottawa Bureau reported today ( that documents obtained by Sun Media under Access to Information show that polygamous marriages have been recognized "for limited purposes" to enforce the financial obligations of husbands, despite the former Liberal government's assertions that polygamy is criminal in Canada.

When Canada legalized same-sex marriage, a number of religious organizations warned that this could open the door to decriminalizing polygamy. "Oh, don't be so foolish" we were told by condescending politicians from the Liberal Party. "They are two separate issues." Liberal politicians and others heaped scorn on Stephen Harper when he was the Opposition Leader for suggesting a link between same-sex marriage and polygamy.

Guess we weren't so far off and I suspect that the Liberals were concerned about that but decided to keep silent in their quest of appear progressive in the eyes of the voters whom they wanted to woo. They allowed a Trojan Horse into our country that is going to have disastrous consequences if not remedied promptly. Between legalizing same-sex marriage and adopting this practice of formally recognizing plural marriages (even for limited purposes of awarding spousal support and inheritance payments) the Liberals placed the present government in an uphill and perhaps unwinnable battle to defend the country's anti-polygamy law if it faces a constitutional challenge on religious grounds. Already in February, 2005, BC's Attorney General warned Canada's law prohibiting polygamy would not stand up to a legal challenge because of potential conflicts with religious freedom laws.

It is probably only a matter of time before such a legal challenge is launched, either from a Muslim or (more likely) a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that openly practices polygamy in Bountiful, B.C.

It is critical that our government take specific and swift action to prevent the legalization of polygamy and immediately stop this practice of recognizing it, even for limited purposes.

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