A last-minute appeal by the CBC to broadcast live coverage of a precedent-setting Vancouver polygamy trial was refused yesterday, with B.C. Chief Justice Robert Bauman declaring that it was “not the time to advance the debate” regarding television cameras in Canadian courtrooms.

Opening day discussions in the contentious hearing — which will eventually rule on the constitutionality of Canada’s 19th-century anti-polygamy laws — were largely devoted to the matter of filming its proceedings, with advocates on both sides voicing strong opinions.

CBC attorney Daniel Henry, one of several dozen lawyers present representing a diverse assortment of activists and interest groups, argued that airing proceedings — expected to last two and a half months — on television and the Internet would assist the public in following a case of “tremendous public interest.”

Supportive arguments were also put forward by counsel for B.C. attorney general and the court-appointed legal representative for various polygamist communities.

It was ultimately the opposition of the attorney general of Canada that doomed the bid, however, as Justice Bauman stated he was uncomfortable moving forward with a courtroom reform opposed by one of the “main parties” in the case.

Regular opening statements in the hearing are scheduled to continue for the remainder of the week.

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