Self Defence & Fitness Camp

The old law of self-defence in the Criminal Code provided a variety of distinct self-defence provisions, each applicable to a slightly different set of circumstances. For those who work in Canadian criminal law, the old self-defence laws were universally seen to be in drastic need of simplification. The multiplicity of self-defence provisions (old sections 34 to 37 of the Criminal Code) were virtually unchanged since their enactment well over a century ago. They were drafted with the laudable aim of customizing the application of self-defence to distinct circumstances that may demonstrate somewhat different moral qualities. For instance, old section 34 provided a defence for an innocent victim who was suddenly and unlawfully attacked, whereas old section 35 provided a defence with slightly different requirements for a person who attacked another first and then subsequently used force to defend against their victim's response


Over a century of jurisprudence and practical experience with the old provisions clearly revealed that the existence of multiple provisions and their specificity produced complexity and uncertainty that did not serve the ends of justice. Rather, juries were left confused and efforts to make the legislative text of the law understandable were confounded. Unnecessary complication meant that cases in which charges were warranted ended up being protracted and frequently appealed on grounds relating to errors in jury instructions, and possibly also that charges were laid in some cases where they should not have been, further clogging strained court systems.


The intent of the new law is to simplify the legislative text itself, in order to facilitate the application of the fundamental principles of self-defence without substantively altering those principles.