Canada: Timeline of polygamous sect

Vancouver Sun

Chronology: 1843 — Officially recorded year of Joseph Smith's revelation that Mormon men are allowed to have more than one wife.

1852 —The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reveals Doctrine and Covenant 132, which makes plural marriage legal in the eyes of the church.

1862 — U.S. Congress passes a bill prohibiting polygamy.

1879 — George Reynolds (LDS prophet Brigham Young's secretary) appeals his conviction on polygamy to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that the law infringes his constitutional right to freedom of religion. The justices disagree and Reynolds goes to prison.

July 26, 1886 —LDS elder Charles O. Card is arrested and charged with polygamy. He escapes, becomes a fugitive and eventually founds the town of Cardston, Alberta.

1888 — Charles Card and two other Mormon elders meet with Sir John A. Macdonald in Ottawa and ask for special dispensation to bring their plural wives and other families to Canada. The prime minister says no, orders the Northwest Mounted Police to watch the Mormons carefully.

1890 - The Canadian government approves legislation outlawing polygamy. The law specifically mentions Mormon polygamy.

1890 — The U.S. Government enacts the Edmunds-Tucker bill, authorizing the confiscation of all the LDS property (except chapels) worth in excess of $50,000 and dissolve the church as a corporate entity. It was approved in 1890 and found to be constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, forcing Wilford Woodruff's hand.

1890 —After the enactment of the Edmunds-Tucker Act passed and the government threatening to send the army, LDS Prophet and President Wilford Woodruff issues a manifesto declaring an end to the polygamy in this life, but not in the hereafter.

1929 — Despite the mainstream Mormon church's Manifesto, a small group of men continue the practise of polygamy and form what they call "The Work." It is the core of what will become the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

1945 — Owen LeBaron visits Cardston from Utah, preaches about polygamy and distributes pamphlets about "The Work". Harold Blackmore, a prominent dairyman and teacher, is one of the early converts.

1946 — Harold Blackmore buys property in Lister, B.C. and what will later become known as Bountiful. Blackmore moves there with his wife and children and a few months later, marries a second wife in a "celestial marriage" in Utah. His second wife is his first wife's sister.

Dec. 28, 1947 —Harold Blackmore's father, John H. Blackmore, is ex-communicated by the mainstream Mormon church. John Blackmore, a sitting member of Parliament from Alberta, is one of the most prominent Mormons in Canada. He was ex-communicated even though he never practised polygamy, he only questioned the validity of Woodruff's Manifesto.

1953 — John Blackmore's son, Ray Blackmore joins his nephew, Harold Blackmore, in Lister. Within a short time, Ray wrests control of the community from Harold.

July 26, 1953 — Arizona highway patrolmen, Mohave County sheriffs and Arizona National Guardsmen raid Short Creek, arresting as many men as they can find. The men are charged them with statutory rape, adultery, bigamy,open and notorious cohabitation, contributing to the delinquency of minors, marrying the spouse of another and an all embracing conspiracy to commit all of these crimes along with income tax evasion, failure to comply with Arizona's corporation laws, misappropriation of the school fund, improper use of school facilities and falsification of public records.

The men were jailed and the women and children dispersed across the country. The raid was soundly criticized and resulted in the Arizona governor Ernie Pyle's defeat when he came up for reelection.

Aug. 25, 1978 —Alberta Provincial Court Judge Litsky rules that "Canada has not yet accepted the plural wife principle" in a child custody case involving members of a fundamentalist Mormon group called the Alpha and Omega Order of Melchizedik, G.E.O.M.

August 1984 — Ray Blackmore's son, Winston, is sworn in as the FLDS bishop for Bountiful.

October 1991 —RCMP conclude a 13-month investigation and recommend charges be laid against Bountiful's bishop Winston Blackmore and its patriarch Dalmon Oler.

June 1992— B.C. Attorney General Colin Gabelman rejects the RCMP's recommendations after receiving legal opinions suggesting that the Criminal Code's polygamy section breaches the Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom.

Sept. 8, 2002 — FLDS prophet Rulon Jeffs dies and is succeeded by his son, Warren Jeffs. The new prophet declares Winston Blackmore an apostate and appoints James Oler, Dalmon's son, bishop of Bountiful.

June 14, 2004 — B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant asks RCMP to once again investigate Bountiful.

July 20, 2004 —B.C. Civil Liberties Association calls for a full public investigation into every aspect of Bountiful but with particular emphasis on sexual exploitation and abuse and allegations that racism is being taught in the schools. BCLA maintains its longheld view that the polygamy law would not withstand a constitutional challenge, adding that, "The question of polygamy is an unhelpful diversion from the other allegations at hand."

April 2005 — Winston Blackmore holds a polygamy summit in Creston and admits to having married "several under-aged girls."

Summer 2005 — FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs becomes a fugitive after he and seven other FLDS elders are indicted an Arizona grand jury along with seven others on various charges of sexual conduct with minors.

May 5, 2006 — FBI puts Warren Jeffs on its 10 Most Wanted list.

August 25, 2006 —Warren Jeffs is arrested outside Las Vegas and sent to Purgatory Correctional Center in Utah.

Dec. 8, 2006 — Winston Blackmore goes on Larry King Live! And admits to marrying several under-aged girls.

November 2007 - Warren Jeffs is found guilty of being an accomplice to the rape of 14-year-old Elissa Wall, who he forced to marry her 19-year-old, first cousin.

April 2008 - Texas authorities raid a compound near Eldorado, where the FLDS had built a temple that is similar to the LDS tabernacle in Salt Lake City. The women and 416 children found at the Yearning for Zion ranch are forced on to buses and taken by child protection authorities. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually rules that the children were wrongly taken from their families and orders them to be returned. But evidence collected during the raid eventually results in charges against 13 men including Warren Jeffs.

January 2009 - Winston Blackmore and James Oler are arrested. Each is charged with one count of polygamy. Blackmore's indictment lists 19 "wives", nine of whom were under 18; Oler's lists two.

September 2009 - The indictments against Blackmore and Oler are quashed by a B.C. Supreme Court judge who ruled that former attorney-general Wally Oppal acted improperly by asking more than one special prosecutor to offer advice on how to proceed on the polygamy file. The first special prosecutor recommended a constitutional reference case; the second, recommended charging Blackmore and Oler.

October 2009 - B.C. Attorney-General Mike de Jong files a constitutional reference case in B.C. Supreme Court. He asks the court to rule on two questions: 1)Is the Criminal Code's polygamy section consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? If not, in what particular or particulars and to what extent?

2)What are the necessary elements of the polygamy offense in the Criminal Code? Does the law require that the polygamous conjugal union involved a minor or occurred in a context of dependence, exploitation, abuse of authority, a gross imbalance of power or undue influence?

December 2009 - Chief Justice Robert Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court appoints Vancouver lawyer George Macintosh as the "amicus" to make the case that the polygamy law is unconstitutional. The amicus - whose bills will be paid by the B.C. government - along with intervenors such as the FLDS and the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association will go up against the combined forces of the attorneys general of B.C. and Canada.

July 2010 - FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs's conviction on two counts of being an accomplice to rape are overturned by the Utah Supreme Court and a new trial is ordered.

September 2010 - Texas files extradition papers in Utah for Warren Jeffs, who is charged there with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and bigamy, which could result in at least one life sentence. Jeffs refuses to waive his right to a hearing.

November 2010 - Warren Jeffs's extradition hearing is scheduled in a Salt Lake City courtroom. In Vancouver, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman will begin hearing the constitutional reference case. The trial is expected to last until the end of January.

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