Canada briefs – October 23

Canadians and the justice system need clarity on whether or not polygamy is a crime, British Columbia’s attorney general said Thursday in announcing that he will ask the B.C. Supreme Court for an opinion on the federal law barring multiple marriage.

Court asked to clarify polygamy law

VICTORIA — Canadians and the justice system need clarity on whether or not polygamy is a crime, British Columbia’s attorney general said Thursday in announcing that he will ask the B.C. Supreme Court for an opinion on the federal law barring multiple marriage.

Mike de Jong said the government has decided to seek the opinion rather than appeal last month’s court ruling that quashed polygamy charges against the leaders of a controversial polygamous religious sect in southeastern B.C.

Joe Arvay, the lawyer for one of the men, Winston Blackmore, said his client wants to participate in the hearing, to make sure the court hears his side.

“I would think that Mr. Blackmore would want to participate in the process so long as the process is fair, and the process will only be fair if the (case) is able to make sure all of the relevant facts are put forward to test the constitutionality of the law, and it will also only be fair if the government provides funding for his involvement in the litigation,” said Arvay.

Crown mulls kidnapping charges

TORONTO — The trial of a Toronto shopkeeper accused of chasing, tackling and tying up a suspected thief is being put over to next month as the Crown decides whether he will continue to face kidnapping charges.

Wang (David) Chen, who owns the Lucky Moose Food Mart, was charged on May 28 with kidnapping, forcible confinement and assault of an accused shoplifter.

Surveillance video at Chen’s supermarket caught a man stealing $50 worth of plants.

When the man returned an hour later, the shopkeeper and employees began to question him.

The man fled and Chen and two employees allegedly chased him down, tied him up and put him in a delivery truck to await police.

The three were arrested and charged.

Their alleged victim pleaded guilty to two counts of theft in August but was given a lighter sentence because he agreed to testify against Chen.

Chen has won vocal support from members of his community, some of whom started the Victims’ Rights Action Committee after the charges were laid.

His lawyer, Peter Lindsay, said outside court today that pre-trial meetings with the Crown counsel were “not very productive.”

Chen will reappear in court Nov. 3, when the Crown is expected to announce whether kidnapping charges will be pursued.

Lindsay said Chen was simply defending his property, and added he may launch a constitutional challenge to sections of the Criminal Code regarding citizen’s arrests.

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