Early this morning, York Regional Police announced they had arrested and charged a 27-year-old Ontario woman with fraud after she scammed people out of hundreds of thousands of dollars while claiming to do spiritual blessings. That's not the only charge against her.
Police also charged the woman, whose name is Samantha Stevenson but went by Evanna Lopez, with practicing witchcraft. While it's a super old and outdated law in Canada, under the criminal code it's technically still illegal.
Witchcraft falls under a category of the criminal code known as "zombie laws". While they have nothing to do with The Walking Dead, these laws are so old that the fact that they are still illegal renders them basically undead.
Practicing witchcraft may be one of the more outdated of the laws, it's only one out of seven of these zombie laws and though some of them are absolutely ridiculous, they can have serious consequences.
1. Pretending to Practice Witchcraft
This law is exactly what it sounds like. Anyone who is found pretending to practice witchcraft can be charged under the criminal code. In most cases though, police only use this charge when there is also fraud or some kind of victim impact involved too. This is a summary offence meaning it has a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
2. Publishing Crime Comics
This old law was introduced to protect against corrupting the morals of children. Basically, under these laws, it is illegal to sell, publish, or write any comics that portray any kind of crime. Wildly enough this law falls under the same section of the Criminal Code as child pornography and carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
3. Advertising Viagara
Despite seeing ads for Viagara and other erectile-dysfunction drugs on TV and in other media all the time, it's actually illegal to advertise these products in Canada. In the same section of the criminal code as the crime comics law, it says it's illegal to advertise a drug that restores sexual virility. The charge could mean a maximum of 2 years in prison.
4. Clipping Coins
With most of our money schemes happening through Bitcoin and other online means, this law definitely seems outdated. Nonetheless, it is illegal in Canada to shave down the side of coins to use the metal to make counterfeit coins. This crime carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
This law most likely dates back to a much older time, when people carried swords around more often. Yet still today anyone can be charged with challenging someone to a duel, provoking another person to challenge a duel, or accepting a challenge. The maximum fine for duelling is two years in prison.
6. Water-Skiing Solo
If you're going water-skiing in Canada you'll need at least two other people with you, one to drive the boat and one to spot you. A law in the criminal code makes it illegal to drive a boat that's towing a water-skier or tuber without another person on board to spot them. This is a summary offence meaning the maximum penalty would be six months in prison.
7. Trading Stamps
This law is a bit more confusing but dates back to the 1950s when a trading stamp boom led to all sorts of schemes. The criminal code defines a trading stamp as a cash receipt, coupon, or other reward is given to a purchaser for buying something. So technically this means retailers issuing rewards points like Air Miles are breaking the law. This summary offence has a maximum conviction of six months.
While the latest charges using one of these bizarre laws was just laid this morning, it is more than likely also going to be the last. Currently, Justin Trudeau's government is advancing a bill through the house of commons that would eliminate all of these charges from the Canadian Criminal Code.
In the meantime, no matter how ridiculous these laws sound, they are all still technically illegal meaning just like Samantha Stevenson, the fraudster and alleged fake witch, you too could be easily charged with any of them.