Winston Blackmore, a polygamous leader associated with Bountiful, near Creston, was found guilty of practicing polygamy in Cranbrook Supreme Court on Monday, July 24, 2017. (Trevor Crawley photo)

Polygamous leader to launch charter challenge

Winston Blackmore back in Cranbrook Supreme Court to argue guilty finding in polygamy case.

One of Canada’s most prominent polygamist leaders will be back in Cranbrook Supreme Court on Tuesday to launch constitutional charter arguments after being found guilty of polygamy in July.

Both Winston Blackmore and James Marion Oler were found guilty of one count of polygamy by Justice Sheri Donegan, however, convictions were not formally entered as Blackmore raised a constitutional charter challenge after her ruling.

READ: Bountiful leaders found guilty of polygamy

Blackmore and Oler are connected to the polygamous community of Bountiful, which was founded by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), who believe that plural marriage is necessary to attain the highest level of celestial glory.

Blackmore is seeking a stay of the conviction and will argue that the evidence used against him was evidence collected before a landmark constitutional reference case in 2011 that upheld the criminal definition of polygamy as detailed in Section 293 in the Canadian Criminal Code.

Because the evidence was collected before 2011 — before it was unclear whether polygamy was a crime that breached charter rights contained in the constitution — the conviction should not stand, said Blair Suffredine, following Donegan’s ruling.

Whether Oler will bring forward the same charter arguments is unknown at this time.

Blackmore and Oler were charged with polygamy in August 2014 by Peter Wilson, a special prosecutor appointed by the BC government.

Evidence brought to trial included testimony from former Bountiful members, FLDS church records seized by law enforcement in Texas in 2008, and experts on mainstream Mormon religious practices and church history.

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