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Duels and fake witchcraft are about to become legal in Canada 

And you thought American politics was nutty.

Canada is making some changes to its hilariously out-of-date Criminal Code which includes laws against duels and fake witchcraft.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould introduced a wide-ranging justice bill on Tuesday which includes a clean up of the Code.

The Code currently includes obscure laws such as s.365 which makes it an offence to “pretend to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration.”

Wait, does that mean that real witchcraft is OK? Hmmmm.

Best of all is s.71, a law against anyone who “challenges or attempts” to provoke another person to fight a duel or “accepts a challenge to fight a duel.”

As of right now, duels are punishable by two years in prison, but once this law is removed, Canada can officially go duel crazy.

But that probably won’t happen. It looks like Canada isn’t ready for a duel Purge, since according to the Ottawa Citizen, the last known duel took place in 1833. Gather round, and I’ll recount the tale for you.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that the last duel took place in Perth (not ours, the one in Northern Canada) and was between two law students, John Wilson and Robert Lyon.

Wilson and Lyon had both met and fallen for an English schoolteacher named Elizabeth Hughes. Wilson made the first move but it didn’t go down so well. One day, Wilson got wind that Lyon had “put his arms about her in a position which no woman of spirit would permit.”

Wilson did the natural thing and wrote a super angry letter about it to a friend. Basically, the small-town 1833 equivalent of Facebook rant. When Lyon heard about the letter, he got salty so the two men had a fist fight, which Lyon won. Wilson apparently tried to mend the situation and when Lyon denied, Wilson challenged him to a duel.

They duelled, and Wilson won, firing a fatal bullet into Lyon’s lungs. Wilson later turned himself in, and putting his law schooling to good use, represented himself and was acquitted on self-defense.

The story gets even better because after leaving Perth, Wilson ended up marrying Hughes and starting a family in Ontario. So there you have it kids – men who win duels always get the babes. (Just kidding, violence is bad).

Other laws being removed include legislation prohibiting the publication of “crime comics” and a strange one that makes it illegal to advertise the return of stolen property with “no questions asked”.

There is actually a fascinating story behind the crime comics one too. Global News reports that the ban back to the 1940s when comics were filled with lurid takes of crime and horror.

Just as people blame video games for violence today, Canucks in the 1940s believed that the comics were corrupting the youth. Things really got bad in 1948, when two boys shot and killed a man while pretending to be highway bandits. Just imagine what lawmakers back then would have said about GTA V.

These will not be the first updates to the Criminal Code. In the past, previous laws have been found unconstitutional and have been removed.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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