Winston Blackmore is a 55-year old polygamist mormon that lives in Bountiful BC. It has been said that Blackmore has 22 wives. He married 16 Americans. At least 13 of the so-called ‘sister-wives’ are real sisters to at least one other of Blackmore’s wives. In the past, Blackmore has been coy about how many wives and children he has. However he has admitted to having approximately 67 children – 47 of whom were born in that six year period alone. For two decades Winston was the bishop of the Bountiful,British Columbia in a polygamist community in the Creston Valley. Blackmore said that even though nearly 1,000 people lived in the Bountiful community, only 156 of them were adults. Of the men in the community, he listed the names of 23 who also had plural wives. The majority of those men had two wives each. However, two of them had four wives and two had three wives each.In september 2002 the FLDS church president Warren Jeffs excommunicated Winston. The community then proceeded to split in half. Approximately 700 people continue to follow Blackmores ways while about 500 follow Jeffs. WInston Blackmore has been faced with many police investigations started in 1990 and was finally arrested and charged with polygamy in 2009. However the charges were later thrown out.
Section 293 of Canada’s Criminal Code makes polygamy illegal. However, Canada enacted a Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the 1980s, which guarantees Canadians the rights to:
“freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; freedom of peaceful assembly; and freedom of association.” In addition, “every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.” This is a very contradicting scenario and a difficult decision whether its right to follow the Charter of Rights and Freedom or to follow the law. It is important to stay true to the freedom and equality of our people however, by doing so we must in force the law on individuals to ensure everyone is equal.