VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – After its lengthy but unsuccessful bid to prosecute polygamists in Bountiful, the British Columbia government faces a lawsuit from Winston Blackmore, alleging unlawful prosecution of the embattled leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The state’s charges were tossed by the British Columbia Supreme Court.
Blackmore claims he suffered financial and business losses while defending himself, and that the charges were laid after the province’s attorney general shopped around for a special prosecutor who would recommend charges despite the uncertain constitutional status of Canada’s polygamy laws.
After two special prosecutors declined to file charges, B.C.’s attorney general “stated that he wanted a ‘more aggressive approach,’ which means you lay the charge and let the defence worry about the constitutionality issue,'” the complaint states.
“He recognized that he could order the Criminal Justice Branch to prosecute the case, but he preferred to work with someone who did not believe the case was doomed to failure.”
A third prosecutor did recommend charges, but they were thrown out by the B.C. Supreme Court, which held that the appointment of the special prosecutor was unlawful, the complaint states.
After that ruling, the province’s attorney general “accepted the correctness of this decision when he declined to appeal this ruling,” opting instead to initiate constitutional questions regarding the validity of the country’s laws prohibiting polygamy, the complaint states.
Blackmore claims his constitutional rights were violated because the attorney general “acted in a manner that was high handed, arbitrary, reckless, abusive, improper and inconsistent with the Honour of the Crown and the administration of justice.”
He adds: “The principles of fundamental justice are also violated when the Attorney General allows his own personal or political views to influence or even to appear to influence the course of a criminal prosecution.”
Blackmore seeks punitive damages. He is represented by Joseph Arvay with Arvay Finlay.