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Abstract

This paper examines the legal treatment of Mormon polygamy in Canadian society through the lens of John Stuart Mill’s theory of liberty. It outlines the essential elements of his theory, and compares his response to the practice with those of modern liberal societies. The author argues that although the Canadian criminal prohibition on polygamy adequately reflects the “harm principle” in Mill’s theory, it undermines the individuality of those who consensually engage in the practice. The paper suggests that the Canadian legislation on polygamy ought to balance regulation of the harm that often stems from the practice with respect for the individuality of those who consent to such unions. The author recommends a number of ways in which the Canadian government’s approach to the practice can conform with the liberal principles of Mill’s theory.

CATHERINE PHELPS is a third year Huron University College student pursuing an Honors Specialization in Political Science and a Minor in French Studies. She particularly enjoys learning about political theory and constitutional law. Ms. Phelps hopes to go on to study law after her time at Huron.


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