Polygamy In Canadian Legal System And Society

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Marriage is a very important social institution because life arises from it. Consequently, the government of Canada has a keen interest in protecting marriages to ensure stable population growth and sustainability. Canada has been largely a monogamous nation until immigrants started flocking in from other parts of the world that entertain different forms of marriages. Instances of a marrying more than one person have increased over the last few decades making America’s marital institution highly questionable. Despite strong legal battles against polygamy and associated forms of marriage, it is high time Canada accepted that the society is moving forward and it has to embrace new practices to guarantee peaceful coexistence and social sustainability.

It is crucial to understand the different types of marriages if one is to navigate Canada’s changing social path. According to Religious Tolerance (2019), marriages fall under two broad categories, namely monogamy and polygamy. Monogamy is a union between one man and one woman. Many monogamous marriages are ceremonial such that they involve weddings. On the other hand, polygamy is the union between one man and several women or one woman and several men. It breaks down into polygyny, polyandry, and polyamory. Polygyny is the practice of a man having more than one wife or female partner at a time. Polyandry is the practice of a woman having more than one husband at a time. Polyamory involves intimate relationships with two or more partners subject to consent of the partners involved. Notably, the difference between polyamory and polygyny/polyandry is the question of consent. Some men marry many wives who end up living in conflicts. Polyamory is an ethical, consensual, and responsible union.

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Multiple marriages and relationships in Canada have social and cultural consequences. Socially, marriages will ensure that every man and woman can start a family without difficulty. The population of women is higher than that of men, which situation implies that many women could face problems finding their partners if Canada were to emphasize polygamy over other types of marriage (This Is Why, 2018). However, multiple relationships could weaken the social fabric since some people might not have adequate resources to take care of larger families. Multiple marriages will transform Canada’s culture by creating room for immigrants to practice their choice marriages. According to Washburn (2015), the culture of “my marriage, my choice” will take shape in Canada making it one of the most liberal countries around the world.

Canada judicial system should not be too harsh on multiple marriages despite the legal provisions it seeks to guard. More recently, the courts sentenced two British Columbian men house arrest for allegedly taking part in polygamy for more than a century. Winston Blackmore had married 24 women and had at least 146 children. James Oler also married five women. The two men landed their sentences in addition to 12 months’ probation and several hours of community service (Reuters, 2018). In a different ruling, the Chief Justice of British Columbia declared polyamorous households illegal unless they performed some marriage ceremony or a sanctioning event (Alan, 2011). Such developments in the legal trajectory are uncalled for owing to the fast changing face of Canada’s social fabric. In the view of Xu (2011), legal wars will only create tensions in the society and eventually spark a cultural revolution the way it happened in China.

Polygamy is healthy for Canada since the society is heading into that direction. When people enter marital relationships, they do so as adults and they understand the consequences of their actions. Regulating adult affairs becomes contentious especially when love is involved. As a result, the law should allow Canadians to choose their unions freely without being subjected to requirements that go against their will. The future of Canada will foresee social forces winning against legal restrictions. Canadians have what it takes to walk the path of Cultural Revolution if that will help them to secure their marriages.


  1. Alan, M. (2011). “Canada polygamy ruling: Win, loss, or draw?” Poly in the Media. Retrieved from https://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com/2011/11/canada-polygamy-ruling-win-loss-or-draw.html
  2. Religious Tolerance (2019). “Plural marriage.” Retrieved from www.religioustolerance.org/polygamy.html
  3. Reuters (2018). “House arrest for polygamy pair after Canada's first convictions in a century.” Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/27/house-arrest-for-polygamy-pair-after-canadas-first-convictions-in-a-century
  4. This Is Why (2018). “Canada’s problem with polygamy.” Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/4303067/why-polygamy-illegal-canada/
  5. Washburn, R. A. (2015). Freedom of marriage: an analysis of positive and negative rights. Washington University Jurisprudence Review, 8(1), 87-114.
  6. Xu, W. (2011). From marriage revolution to revolutionary marriage: marriage practice of the Chinese Communist Party in modern era, 1910s-1950s. A thesis submitted to the University of Western Ontario.
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