The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus
Christ of Later Day Saints (FLDS)
Events in the Canadian branch
from 2009-JAN to SEP
A battle has been brewing in Bountiful, British Columbia for decades over
polygamy. This is a town of about 1,000 persons, almost all of whom are members
of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (FLDS), a fundamentalist offshoot from the much larger group, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).
Its male members are under extreme pressure to follow the
teachings of the FLDS, including the need to marry three or more women. They are
taught that this is the only way that a man can attain the highest of three
levels of heaven after death, and be eligible to ascent to the level of a god. Women are similarly pressured to conform, because
they are taught that only their husbands can invite them into this highest
The Criminal Code of Canada bans polygamy. The FLDS' Mormon beliefs,
traceable back to their founder Joseph Smith in the early 19th century, calls
for men to be married to multiple wives in celestial marriages.
After almost two decades of investigations, the first arrests were finally made
2009-JAN-08: Two FLDS leaders arrested: The leaders of the
two FLDS factions in Bountiful, BC., Winston Blackmore, 55, and James Oler, 44, were
arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Each was charged with one
count of polygamy. The police asked the justice of the peace to impose
conditions for their release, including a prohibition on performing additional
Attorney General Wally Oppal said: "We've always felt that there has been
exploitation. The question is whether under our laws we were in a position to
proceed, and we have concluded that we are."
When asked his opinion whether the
criminal code prohibition of polygamy may be declared unconstitutional, he said:
"That's not really our concern, our concern is: Is the law being violated, are
there people being exploited? If some court decides otherwise, we would
obviously have to live with that." 1
2009-JAN-08: Kelly McParland wrote in the National Post:
"There is really no reason the process should have taken this long. We believe
this nation’s judges are intelligent enough to realize that the state has the
right to insist on a definition of marriage that does not permit the
accumulation of harems under Christian guise. But even if a lower-court judge
decides otherwise, the decision may be appealed — on up to the Supreme Court of
Canada in necessary, after which the Notwithstanding clause is always a
"The legal process that awaits the leaders of Bountiful may well be a long one.
All the more reason that it should have been started several years ago."
2009-JAN-09: Blackmore makes statement: He read a
statement to the media at the community school in Bountiful. Blackmore complained that the
Crown has ignored his basic right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
-- Canada's constitution -- to
enjoy religious freedom. He said:
"This is not about polygamy. To us, this is
about religious persecution. ... It is therefore no surprise to us that this
spectacular grandstanding event has happened in the face of an up and coming
The Canadian Press commented:
"A handful of teenaged girls, some of whom would bear no distinction from any
other teenaged girl in the surrounding community of Creston, gathered in the
room as Blackmore spoke to a small group of reporters. Also in the audience were
a few women in the long skirts that have come to define the community to
"Blackmore said the law was written 'specifically against the Mormons'. But
'Canada also has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees every person
the right to live their religion, and I guess now, every person except those of
us who are fundamentalist believing and practising Mormons' he said."
"Regardless of the outcome of the case, it will most likely end up in front of
the country's highest court because of the charter issue."
" 'I hope this government has calculated all the risks,' Blackmore said.
'Time will tell'."
"Blackmore said his own arrest has taken a serious toll on his family but 'my
family will be just fine'. He said he will continue to do what he's always done,
raising his children and living his life. 'I am what I am, we are what we are,'
he said." 3
|2009-JAN-10: Comments by Bruce Hutchinson of the National Post: He
described the results from a survey of Canadian opinion on polygamy by Reginald Bibby in 2005:|
|Only 4% approved of multiple marriage partners.
|Only 20% were
"willing to accept polygamy."|
2009-SEP-23: Case against Blackmore and Oler thrown out of court: B.C. Supreme Court judge Sunni Stromberg-Stein ruled that the B.C. Attorney General did not have the authority to appoint a new special prosecutor to try Blackmore and Oler after the first special prosecutors recommended against laying charges. The defendants had petitioned the court complaining that the Attorney General had gone "special prosecutor shopping" until he found someone who would go ahead with the charges.
Blackmore said: "This has been a long, hard year for us. It's been stressful for my family, stressful on me. I'm relieved and happy and am going to carry on with my life."
Attorney General Mike de Jong said the provincial government will consider an appeal. He said: "The first order of business will be to read the decision in its entirety, which I haven't done yet. Obviously, I will talk to officials within the ministry and a decision will be made around a possible appeal." 5
- James Keller, "Bountiful polygamist leaders charged," Canadian Press,
- Kelly McParland, "National Post editorial board: What took so long in
- "Polygamous sect leader calls charges persecution Issue is political, not
criminal, says Blackmore," Canadian Press, 2009-JAN-09, at:
- Brian Hutchinson, "Polygamy charges test law, tolerance," National Post,
- "Polygamy charges in Bountiful, B.C., thrown out," CBC News, 2009-SEP-23, at: http://www.cbc.ca/
Copyright © 2009 & 2010 by Ontario Consultants on
Originally written: 2009-JAN-10
Author: B.A. Robinson