A British Columbia court will start examining Monday whether Canada's polygamy laws are constitutional.

B.C. Supreme Court will hear a case that began in an obscure fundamentalist Mormon community in the province's southeast corner.

The provincial government has asked the court to decide whether the laws that prohibit polygamy violate the right to freedom of religion.

Last year, prosecutors in B.C. charged two leaders in Bountiful, B.C., with one count each of practising polygamy, but those charges were later thrown out.

Now, the court is preparing to hear from more than two dozen witnesses, including experts and former residents of Bountiful.

It's a case that observers say is destined to make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The provincial and federal governments argue polygamy harms women and children, and men don't have a constitutional right to marry multiple wives.

Vancouver-based constitutional lawyer Ronald Skolrood, who isn't connected to the case, says the outcome could have far-reaching effects on Canada's marriage laws and will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.