Witches, Duelers and Viagra, Oh My!

 Jul 10, 2019 10:00 PM
by Marcel Strigberger

     Let’s talk about zombies, to wit, the zombie laws the federal government has erased from the criminal code via Bill C-51. These anachronistic offences rarely enforced were still punishable until recently.

    For example, section 365 made it an offence to “pretend to practice witchcraft” for the purpose of defrauding. I get lost at the “pretend” part. I think we all know what a witch is. If we ever walk along Toronto’s Nathan Philips Square and some lady with a greenish face, sporting a black robe and conical hat, flies up in front of the City Hall on a broom, and shouts, “I’ll get you my pretty; and your little dog too,” there’s no pretending there. I’m sold.

    Police in Milton, Halton Region, actually charged a psychic under that section just before the law got repealed. She supposedly got about 20 clients to pay her large sums of money, totaling $600,000.00. She allegedly told her clients they were being haunted by bad spirits and ghosts and she would perform rituals to make them go away. At one point some of the victims requested a refund but she refused same saying if she refunded the cash the spirits and ghosts would return. I guess her refund policy was nothing like Costco’s.

    Actually, I would think notwithstanding that the police were optimistic in laying the charge, the Crown would have its hands full on this one. The lady has a great defence. Wouldn’t the prosecution need evidence of actual ghosts still hanging around, to prove she committed fraud? To me this is a pure witch-hunt. Milton meets Salem.

    The story does not mention her mode of transportation.

    For those lawyers practicing family law, you may be happy to see the repeal of a relevant section, namely section 71, which bans dueling. Now if you feel offended, you can slap your opponent’s face with your glove, challenging him or her to a duel, without fear of getting two years in the slammer. I suppose in practice, arrest on this charge would have applied to only one of the two contestants. Woe to the unfortunate survivor.

   And now that this crime is off the books, what will adversaries do? Mediation often works but then again you cannot deny that dueling is simply another feasible form of alternate dispute resolution.

   And speaking of crimes, section 163(1) (b) has been chopped off. This section made it a crime to publish or sell crime comics. The intent behind that one was that young people reading about the likes of Lex Luther or the Joker, might be influenced to commit crimes.

   I’m not so sure. I grew up gobbling up Superman comics for reading nourishment and I never once was tempted to go out and procure a stash of kryptonite.

   Actually section 163 had more zombies. Section163(2) (d) made it a criminal offence to advertise a drug represented as a method for restoring virility. I suppose any man to whom this might apply, was expected to discover the remedy by other means; hey, I heard it through the grapevine.

   The good news was there was a built in defence to this charge. There was no crime if the act “served the public good.” It was a bit broad but I’d say the case would be dismissed if a merchant or manufacturer pleaded, “There are lots of happy people out there as a result of Viagra”.

    I don’t know where any of these Criminal Code revisions will be taking us. No doubt he landscape should now be more favourable for witches, duelers and Batman aficionados. And one can now freely advertise Viagra, though I suppose it will not affect the zombies



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