A Cruel Arithmetic: Inside The Case Against Polygamy by Craig Jones

A Cruel Arithmetic: Inside The Case Against Polygamy

byCraig Jones

Hardcover | September 5, 2012

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For thirty years, lawyers, pundits, professors, and politicians had said that section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada-the criminal prohibition of polygamy-was unconstitutional, a Victorian anachronism that, in a modern rights-based democracy, deserved to be swept aside in the name of individual liberty and religious freedom. Polygamy per se, it was argued, was harmless. 

Beginning in 2009 in Vancouver, a small team of lawyers from the federal and  provincial governments, along with a handful of allied public-interest groups, set out to prove  the experts wrong and to show that there were devastating harms that inevitably flowed from  polygamy's "cruel arithmetic": harms to women and children, to society at large, and even to the very foundation of democracy itself. The case against polygamy would proceed for almost  two years, and was laid out through forty-four days of trial and more than 100 witnesses.  The evidence ranged from the testimony of pre-eminent academics to stark and disturbing confessions of polygamists testifying under the shield of anonymity. The eventual 357-page  decision of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, based on (in his  words) "the most comprehensive judicial record on the subject ever produced," defied all  expectations and set the world of constitutional law back on its heels.

This is a remarkable insider's story of a unique piece of litigation: the first trial-court "constitutional reference" in Canadian history. Craig Jones, lead counsel for the Attorney General of British Columbia, describes the argument he and his colleagues developed against polygamy, drawing from fields as diverse as anthropology, history, economics, and evolutionary psychology. Yet it was ultimately the testimony of real people that showed how the theoretical harms of polygamy's "cruel arithmetic" played out upon its victims. 

A Cruel Arithmetic describes how the author's own views evolved from scepticism to a committed belief in the campaign against polygamy. This book is also an invitation to  Canadians across political, philosophical, and religious spectrums to exercise their curiousity, approach the issue with an open mind, and follow along as the evidence converges to its powerful and surprising conclusion.

About The Author

Craig Jones, QC, BGS, LLB, LLM, holds law degrees from UBC and Harvard Law School. For six years he was the lead constitutional litigator for the Attorney General of British Columbia, where he argued a series of significant cases including the Safe Injection Site appeal, the Polygamy Reference, and challenges to the Braidwood Taser Inq...
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Details & Specs

Title:A Cruel Arithmetic: Inside The Case Against PolygamyFormat:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.5 inPublished:September 5, 2012Publisher:Irwin Law Inc.Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1552212971

ISBN - 13:9781552212974

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Part 1: Beginnings
Part 2: On Human Nature
Part 3: All Roads Lead to Bountiful
Part 4: A Case for the Trial Court
Part 5: Trial Diary
Part 6: The Case Against Polygamy
Part 7: Decision and Aftermath
Afterword: The March of the Zombies

Editorial Reviews

"A Cruel Arithmetic describes this major Canadian constitutional argument in more detail than I've seen in any other book. The duelling lawyers and their personalities, the clashes within the civil service, the preparation and cross-examination of witnesses - it's all here. And it is absolutely riveting, especially when Jones describes the dismantling of dubious "expert" witnesses trying to make the case that polygamy is not so harmful. I'd go so far as to say every law student should read it, and many practising lawyers could learn a lot from it, too. I certainly did."