Polygamy in Canada: Fine Line between Religious Freedom and A Criminal Act

The recent Constitutional Challenge brought on by the convicted polygamist Winston Blackmore against Section 293 of the Criminal Code has once again brought the issue of polygamy in Canada to the forefront.

Winston Blackmore, a former prominent member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church) was found guilty of one (1) count of polygamy on July 24th 2017 in British Columbia.  It was alleged that he entered into celestial marriages with 24 women, some of whom were under the legal age of 18, and at least one young person aged 15.

The conviction against Blackmore has not been registered and he has not been sentenced pending the outcome of the Constitutional Application asking for his conviction to be stayed, or to exempt him from punishment because, he had no means rea or criminal intent, and that the marriages were entered into based on religious beliefs.