UPDATED: Breaking: Bountiful’s Big Love headed for the Big House?

Ooh. So BC’s Attorney General Wally Oppal may have finally mustered up the courage to give Canada’s anti-polygamy law a  long overdue road test:

Followers say Winston Blackmore, the leader of the controversial polygamous sect in Bountiful, B.C., has been arrested.

Details were not immediately available but B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal and the RCMP have scheduled a news conference this afternoon in Vancouver.

According to a court document filed in nearby Creston, Blackmore is facing a charge of practicing polygamy. […]

Last June, Oppal appointed a special prosecutor to look into allegations of criminal abuse at Bountiful, saying that renewed public concerns compelled him to act.

That came despite two earlier legal opinions that said it would be difficult to proceed with charges of polygamy, with one suggesting a court challenge of the laws surrounding polygamy instead.

After the special prosecutor was announced, Blackmore accused Oppal of religious persecution.

“It can’t possibly be about polygamy,” Blackmore wrote in an email to The Canadian Press last June.

“It must be about his own religious bias and now he wants the Liberal government to persecute some of the citizens that they have an obligation to serve and protect.”

Blackmore has said he has tried to meet with Oppal in the past, but that the attorney general has refused.

UPDATE: It’s not just Winston Blackmore, according to the Globe’s Robert Matas:  Apparently Jim Oler, who replaced Blackmore as Bountiful’s bishop, has also been charged.

MORE INFO: The Globe and Mail has posted the indictment, which includes the names of the nineteen women with whom he is accused of having practised “a form of polygamy” and just so we’re all clear on how the law currently stands, here’s the relevant section from the Criminal Code:


293. (1) Every one who

(a) practises or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practise or enter into

(i) any form of polygamy, or

(ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time,

whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or

(b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship mentioned in subparagraph (a)(i) or (ii),

is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

Evidence in case of polygamy

(2) Where an accused is charged with an offence under this section, no averment or proof of the method by which the alleged relationship was entered into, agreed to or consented to is necessary in the indictment or on the trial of the accused, nor is it necessary on the trial to prove that the persons who are alleged to have entered into the relationship had or intended to have sexual intercourse.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 257.

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