Quebec birth rate increases

QUEBEC – The Quebec Institute of Statistics reported that for the fifth year in a row, the province’s birth rate increased. Its birth rate of 1.65 children per 100 women of child-bearing age is higher than the national average of 1.59, the first time since 1959 that Quebec’s rate has exceeded the Canadian average. The provincial government has encouraged women to have more children by establishing $7-a-day daycare, generous maternity leave benefits and extensive afterschool programs. The institute also reports that 62 per cent of Quebec babies were born out of wedlock, twice the rate in the rest of Canada

Polygamous cult leaders arrested

BOUNTIFUL, B.C. – RCMP arrested two members of a polygamous breakaway Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Winston Blackmore, 52, and James Oler, 44, are charged with committing  polygamy. Blackmore is alleged to have 26 wives and more than 100 children; Oler is thought to have three wives. According to police, all of the wives are now over 18 although some were 15 when they were first married. According to the Vancouver Sun, Blackmore was originally charged on May 1, 2005, and Oler on Nov. 1, 2004, but the province did not proceed with the cases because the Crown said the law was unclear. Attorney General Wally Oppal said the current prosecution will proceed and “will provide legal clarity as to the constitutionality of section 293 of the Criminal Code” which prohibits polygamy. The breakaway Mormon cult claims that under the Charter of Rights’ protection of religious freedom it is allowed to practice polygamy and Blackmore has charged the authorities with prosecuting a religious minority. Women’s groups are concerned about the equality of women in polygamous ‘marriages’ and child advocacy organizations are worried about the exploitation of young girls who are married in their early teens and the abandonment of young boys who are thrown out of the community because they are rivals to older men who want multiple wives.

NB court considers Morgentaler standing

Fredricton, N.B. – The New Brunswick Court of Appeal heard a motion to consider whether abortionist Henry Morgentaler should be allowed to continue his lawsuit seeking to require the province to pay for abortions committed at his private Fredericton facility. Chief Justice J. Ernest Drapeau reserved his decision “until a later date.” The government’s lawyer, Nancy Forbes, said Morgentaler should be denied public-interest standing that was granted to him last August and argued that only the women who use his abortuary should be granted standing. Forbes said the issue is about funding, not access. Peter Ryan, director of New Brunswick Right to Life, said, “This hearing is a reminder of how New Brunswick is at the centre of the legal issue of whether Medicare requires child-killing abortion on demand to be publicly funded”