Refers to the protection of religious rights under the Charter of Rights
The leader of a fundamentalist Mormon community in Creston condemned polygamy charges laid against him this week, saying they amount to religious persecution tied to politics.
Blackmore’s statement, made at a news conference where he did not take reporters’ questions, point to the legal arguments expected to unfold in the coming court case — the protection of religious rights under the Charter of Rights versus a section of the Criminal Code prohibiting polygamy.
“To us, this is about religious persecution,” said Blackmore, who lives in the community a few miles south of Creston.
“Persecution has always been about politics. Whatever else is involved with it, it is still about politics. It is therefore no surprise to us that this spectacular grandstanding event has happened in the face of an up-and-coming provincial election.
“I hope this government has calculated all the risks. Time will tell.”
Blackmore, a member of a breakaway sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was arrested Wednesday and charged with polygamy under Section 293 of the Criminal Code. He is to appear in Creston court on Jan. 21.
Also arrested was James Oler, the leader of a second sect of fundamentalist Mormons that follows Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Church of Latter-day Saints from 2002 until his imprisonment two counts of rape as an accomplice in 2007 in Utah.
The charges against Blackmore are the culmination of a seven-month assessment review by special prosecutor Terrence Robertson at the request of Attorney-General Wally Oppal.
“Canada has a law against polygamy,” said Blackmore. “It was made in or around 1892 and was made specifically against the Mormons.
“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.”
Blackmore, who has had 26 wives and has more than 108 children, devoted a large portion of his statement to his family’s reaction to his arrest.
Statement on Bountiful special prosecution, Vancouver Sun
Winston Blackmore’s Statement, Vancouver Sun
Ten people who can help make the case against polygamy, The Province
Key players in the Bountiful case, Vancouver Sun