Canada: Green Party votes down polygamy law repeal
The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) is preparing to have its say in the upcoming court case to test Canada's anti-polygamy law, which is written so broadly that it criminalizes polyamory too. (The law reportedly has not been enforced in 60 years, but the British Columbia government is bringing a test case with Fundamentalist Mormon polygamist leaders in mind.)
Meanwhile, this morning (Sunday August 22) the convention of Canada's Green Party considered and voted down a proposal that would have committed the party to repeal of the law. From CNews:
Greens defeat polygamy motion
OTTAWA – The Green Party voted down a motion that would force the party to push to decriminalize polygamy Sunday morning.
The vast majority of members voted against the motion, with 82% against and 18% in favour.
The motion called for the party to push to decriminalize “polyamorous” relationships where people are intimately involved and living with more than one partner.
Party members in a workshop session on Saturday voted to send the idea to the full party plenary where everyone could debate and vote on it.
Speakers in the workshop [had been] careful to define polygamy as a marriage between multiple spouses. They made a clear distinction between polygamy between consenting adults and a polygamist sect in Bountiful, B.C., where domestic abuse has been alleged, though a judge has thrown out charges against two alleged sect leaders.
Several Green members argued that polyamorous relationships are impossible to sell to voters and could mean losing support at a time when they hit record numbers in the last election....
Read the whole article (Aug. 22, 2010). I can't tell whether the confusion between polygamy and polyamory here is the reporter's or the Greens'.
Photo of the vote.
Previous story, from the Toronto Sun:
By LAURA PAYTON, QMI Agency
Last Updated: August 21, 2010 8:26pm
The Green Party of Canada will consider a motion Sunday on whether or not they will push to decriminalize polygamy.
Party members in a workshop on Saturday evening voted to send the motion to the full-Party plenary, where they'll debate and vote on it.
Speakers in the workshop were careful to define polygamy as a marriage between multiple spouses. They made a clear distinction between polygamy between consenting adults and a polygamist sect in Bountiful, B.C., where domestic abuse has been alleged, though charges were thrown out in 2009.
“It's a human rights issue,” said Trey Capnerhurst, a Green Party candidate in Edmonton East, noting that she is polyamorous.
Polyamory is the process of having more than one intimate relationship at the same time, according to the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association.
Capnerhurst says in cases where police suspect domestic abuse against multiple wives and children, that should be the subject of criminal charges.
“We should be not be charging people with polygamy,” she said.
Several Green members in the workshop argued the policy is impossible to sell to voters and could mean losing support at a time when they hit record numbers in the last election....
Green Party leader Elizabeth May says the party is open and democratic, allowing any motion with enough support to be discussed.
“It certainly isn't a motion I voted for,” she said. “It's something I continue to oppose.”
A spokeswoman for May says she doesn't expect the motion to pass the full party plenary on Sunday.
Capnerhurst says there's a bias against those in polyamorous relationships, of which she estimates number in the tens of thousands in Canada....
Read the whole article. And here's a blog post by the reporter on How did the polygamy motion make it so far?
The Green Party of Canada is small but growing; it received 6.8% of the national popular vote in 2008. Under a parliamentary system, like Canada's, small "third parties" can have a small but meaningful role in politics and governance. In particular, the large party closest to them may need to invite them to form a coalition government. This is unlike under a strict two-party system such as in the United States, where the only effect a third party can have, when it begins to attract votes, is to spoil elections for the large party that's closest to it — thereby alienating the people who might be most drawn to it in the future, and thus cutting its own throat. Any third party that begins to succeed under a two-party system automatically kills itself off this way. For example, where is the Ralph Nader party now?
Update later in the day: Trey Capnerhurst, a poly activist who was in the Green Party convention workshop in question, explains more of the story in three of the Comments below (under the name Treasach).
Update August 24: Here's the reporter's discussion of what happened, and people's comments on why polyamory is not ready for rational discussion in electoral politics.
This episode damaged the Green Party not just by making it look fringy but, more importantly, by hijacking public attention away from the Green convention's actual statements, platform and proposals — the main reason to hold a political convention.
At least the episode got some decent discussion going on the Ottawa Citizen's editorial board's blog.