Here you will find information on certain criminal offences in Canada to help give you a general understanding of the type of behaviour that could be illegal and result in charges by police, as well as the places to report these issues.
Laws in Canada
This is general information on some Canadian laws but is not intended to include everything.
Illegal Pictures and Videos
Child Pornography: includes naked or semi-naked sexual picture or video of a person under 18, or of a person under 18 engaging in a sex act. It is illegal to view, keep, send, post or take such pictures or videos.
Acts that Violate Privacy
Non-Consensual Distribution of an Intimate Image: if someone has a sexual/intimate picture/video of you that was created in private circumstances, and that person knowingly posts it online or shares it with someone else knowing that you would not consent to that (or being reckless about whether you would consent to it), the person could be charged.
Voyeurism: secretly observing or recording a person who reasonably believes his/her actions are private and:
- who is in a place where the person might be expected to change or remove clothing (e.g. bedroom, bathroom, change room, cabin, tent);
- who is all or partially naked or engaged in sexual activity at the time; or
- where the recording is done for sexual reasons.
Acts that Make Others Feel Unsafe
Harassment: doing or saying something that makes someone else scared for themselves or someone else (e.g. making threats, stalking, repeatedly texting/emailing, constantly following).
Blackmail (extortion): getting a person to do something (like pay money, go on webcam) by making threats or being violent (e.g. pushing, shoving, yelling).
Uttering Threats: threatening to hurt someone, damage their property or hurt an animal they own.
Intimidation: being violent or making threats of violence against a person, someone in the person’s family or the person’s property, in order to get a person to do something, or stop doing something.
Counselling to Commit Suicide: encouraging another person to take their own life.
Acts that Hurt the Reputation of another Person
Defamatory Libel: publicly making statements about another person that are likely to hurt their reputation or cause others to treat them badly or ridicule them (e.g. posting online that another person is a racist).
Impersonation: pretending or claiming to be someone else (living or dead) to benefit yourself or someone else, to hurt the person you are pretending to be or to hurt another person.
Unwanted or Illegal Sexual Contact
Online Luring: a situation where one person (typically an adult but not always) communicates with a young person through technology (like texting, instant messaging, emailing) to make it easier to commit a specific sexual offence against that young person. An example of a communication that could qualify as online luring is if the person asks, hints at or tries to convince the young person to create or send naked or semi-naked sexual pictures or videos.
Making Sexually Explicit Material Available to a Person under 18: showing or sending material like pornography to a child to make it easier to commit a sexual offence against the child.
Sexual Exploitation: When a 16- or 17-year-old is touched by or encouraged to touch themselves or any other person for a sexual purpose by a person who is:
- in a position of trust or authority (e.g. parent, guardian, teacher, coach) over the young person
- a person upon whom the 16 or 17 year old is dependent in some way
- exploiting the young person in some way
Invitation to Sexual Touching: encouraging a person under 16 to touch themselves or someone else for a sexual purpose (whether in person or online). It includes indirect touching (with an object, for example). When both people are close enough in age AND have lawfully consented, charges may not be laid.
“Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”
— Nido Qubein