Speaking to the Dead: Repealing Laws Against Pretending to Practice Witchcraft.

Author:Isert, Kristy

For years, the Criminal Code has been in need of an overhaul.

As the cornerstone of criminal law in Canada, the Criminal Code, is a large piece of federal legislation officially called An Act respecting the Criminal Law that includes the majority of Canada's criminal offences, procedures, and punishments. It has been described by provocative and brilliant Osgoode Hall Law Professor Alan Young as "a patchwork quilt of ancient common-law offences, procedural rules, trivial infractions and contemporary offences created in response to a perceived social crisis" or simply--the "bible". The Criminal Code is intended to be an easy one-stop-shop representing the line where behaviours cross over from acceptable to unacceptable; where unacceptable behaviour warrants punishment by the state which in turn is supposed to discourages these behaviours, bringing the life lesson full circle. In theory, the Criminal Code acts as a guide for our conduct, advising which behaviours must be avoided.

When the criminal law was first incorporated into one piece of legislation in 1892, it copied a significant portion of proposed English law that went before the United Kingdom House of Commons in 1878 but was never passed. Despite several amendments to the Criminal Code over the years, which created new offences to address modern social problems like impaired driving for example, much of the original criminal law has remained. Of course, the world looks very different than it did in 1878 or even 1892 and laws that were created during those times may not make sense anymore. As such, even despite numerous amendments, the Criminal Code could use, at least, moderate work with some legal experts calling for its complete revision.

On June 6, 2017, Bill C-51 was introduced to amend the Criminal Code in several ways. One of which is by repealing outdated sections that are no longer needed because the social problem they sought to address no longer exists or the social problem can be addressed by another broader provision of the Criminal Code. On December 12, 2017, Bill C-51 received first reading of the Senate. By the end of March 2018, the law still had not been passed, as it continued debate at second reading of the Senate.

One of the outdated sections of the Criminal Code that would be repealed by Bill C-51 is the law against Pretending to Practice Witchcraft, etc under section 365 of the Criminal Code:

365. Every one who fraudulently

(a) pretends to exercise or to use...

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