Polygamy view blasted
OTTAWA — Canada is violating international human-rights law by allowing polygamous relationships to thrive and could face a global rebuke for failing to act, a new report commissioned by Justice Canada has concluded.
The $20,000 study by University of Toronto law professor Rebecca Cook, ob-tained by Sun Media, finds there are no justifications on religious, cultural or family grounds for polygamy under international law that prohibits discrimination against women.
Canada’s Criminal Code prohibits polygamy, yet multi-wife marriages and polygamous communities such as Bountiful, B.C., have openly flourished without criminal prosecution.
“It’s important that they address it as a matter of their international law obligations,” Cook said.
The UN committee monitoring women’s rights around the world obliges Canada to disclose polygamy exists in this country and report how our laws, policies and practices will attempt to eliminate it, she said.
“If they can’t show they’ve taken all appropriate measures to address this problem, the committee in its concluding observations will take them to task,” Cook said.
Mike Storeshaw, spokesman for Justice Minister Vic Toews, said any decision to lay charges lies with provincial Crown and police authorities, but vowed the Conservative government would strongly defend the law prohibiting polygamy.
“If there were questions raised about the constitutionality about the Criminal Code prohibition on polygamy, we would certainly be prepared to defend the prohibition against it,” he said.
The report recommends the creation of a “time-limited” working group within the Canadian Justice De-partment to assist with polygamy prosecutions.
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