March 28, 2011 | Daniel Kanis
March 28, 2011 VANCOUVER, B.C. – Today, the Supreme Court of British Columbia will begin hearing closing statements from parties involved in the Constitutional Reference on Polygamy. The Christian Legal Fellowship anticipates presenting its arguments in support of the law on Friday, April 1, while the entire process should conclude by April 14. After a landmark decision, the Court will be allowing major media outlets (CBC and Global TV) to televise and webcast the arguments so the general public can watch.
“This case is of great public importance, so we are encouraged to see the Court opening up to the media,” said Ruth Ross, Executive Director and General Legal Counsel of the Christian Legal Fellowship. “Through the live airing of the arguments, all Canadians will be able to assess for themselves whether the law against polygamy is just.”
The Christian Legal Fellowship intervened in the case to support the laws against polygamy because “polygamy in all of its forms is harmful or potentially harmful” to men, women, children, and society at large. In making its argument that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not violated by the law against polygamy, CLF will rely upon, among other things, a Supreme Court of Canada decision that clearly articulates Parliament’s authority to limit marriage to two people. CLF will also argue that Parliament acted within its jurisdiction when it legislated against real and foreseeable harm.
“Over the past five months, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has heard strong and convincing evidence that demonstrates polygamy harms women, children, and society and that outlawing it does not compromise religious freedom,” said Ruth Ross. “The Court now has a choice between upholding the primary building block of society – the institution of marriage – or, conversely, establishing Canada as the first Western nation to recognize a practice that disproportionately impacts the vulnerable of society.”
After the closing statements conclude, the Court will recess to examine the law in light of the evidence presented by the many witnesses who were examined throughout the Constitutional Reference on Polygamy. The Reference, brought by the Attorney General of British Columbia, asks the Court to determine if Parliament may prohibit polygamy and at the same time uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ guarantee of religious freedom.
As an intervenor, CLF presented opening statements to the Court on November 24 in support of the institution of marriage. CLF asked the Court to uphold Parliament’s authority to enact criminal laws that protect women and children from the practice of polygamy while carefully preserving religious freedom. During the trial, CLF presented evidence demonstrating the harms of polygamy, including the testimony of Dr. Shoshana Grossbard, an economist and expert on polygamy.
To access CLF’s closing arguments and reply, click here
To access a number of additional documents associated with the Reference, click here.
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For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Stephanie M. Luck, B.A., J.D., Esq.
Legal Researcher/Director of Operations
CHRISTIAN LEGAL FELLOWSHIP
Alliance des chrétiens en droit
Phone: (519) 641-8850 Fax: (519) 641-8866