George Macintosh, the court-appointed lawyer arguing against Canada’s “polygamy law”, won’t appeal Chief Justice Bauman’s November 23 finding. The CPAA expected an appeal and is surprised.
We don’t have legal standing to bring our own appeal. Unless the Attorneys General decide to take this to a higher court, we don’t see any way to attack Section 293 directly in the near future.
The good news: without litigation setting an agenda for us, we can set our own, taking a fresh look at what Canada’s poly majority needs. We’re free to think about the long term, and we’d like your help.
If we really are done in court for now, in the coming weeks and months we’ll look at where the CPAA should go next: what our principles should be, where our priorities should lie, what services we should provide, what strategies we should use, who our allies should be, how we’ll be funded, and how we should organize ourselves. We can reinvent the CPAA completely, if that’s what needs to be done.
We’ll be asking for community ideas and help, via our own Web site and in other places. And, yes, we’ll fix the forums.
There is a possibility that either the Government of BC or the Government of Canada could take this case to a higher court; experts have suggested that they might want to get a decision that carries more weight throughout Canada, rather than settling for a BC decision. If that happens, we will probably continue along our existing litigation-driven path, and defer any major strategic rethinking. We don’t know how likely it is… but, by doing it, the Governments might be putting their substantial victory at risk.
We thank all the community members who’ve supported us in the last couple of years, and ask for your guidance and support wherever the coming years take us.
More on on the finding and the lack of appeal
Mr. Macintosh hasn’t publicly said why he chose not to appeal, because the issue may come before another court in the future. Although it’s frustrating for us, as a matter of proper legal practice he’s probably right not to explain.
Section 293’s threat has been weakened; it could have been read much more broadly. The lines aren’t as sharply drawn as we’d like, but it applies only to formal, institutionalized multi-partner marriages, clearly not to informal “common law” style relationships.
Still, the CPAA believes that major parts of the finding are legally wrong, and that Section 293 violates the Canadian Charter of Rights. Charter aside, we believe it’s an unwise and harmful law, for our community and for others. Innocent people are at risk, and there are much better ways to address the abuses its supporters are concerned about.
Eliminating Section 293 entirely is still a CPAA goal, but we’ll have to lay a lot of groundwork to do that. And other issues may be as pressing, or more so, for our community.