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Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46)

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Act current to 2021-09-11 and last amended on 2021-08-27. Previous Versions

PART VIIIOffences Against the Person and Reputation (continued)

Defamatory Libel (continued)

Marginal note:Fair reports of parliamentary or judicial proceedings

  •  (1) No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes in good faith, for the information of the public, a fair report of the proceedings of the Senate or House of Commons or the legislature of a province, or a committee thereof, or of the public proceedings before a court exercising judicial authority, or publishes, in good faith, any fair comment on any such proceedings.

  • Marginal note:Divorce proceedings an exception

    (2) This section does not apply to a person who publishes a report of evidence taken or offered in any proceeding before the Senate or House of Commons or any committee thereof, on a petition or bill relating to any matter of marriage or divorce, if the report is published without authority from or leave of the House in which the proceeding is held or is contrary to any rule, order or practice of that House.

  • R.S., c. C-34, s. 271

Marginal note:Fair report of public meeting

 No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes in good faith, in a newspaper, a fair report of the proceedings of any public meeting if

  • (a) the meeting is lawfully convened for a lawful purpose and is open to the public;

  • (b) the report is fair and accurate;

  • (c) the publication of the matter complained of is for the public benefit; and

  • (d) he does not refuse to publish in a conspicuous place in the newspaper a reasonable explanation or contradiction by the person defamed in respect of the defamatory matter.

  • R.S., c. C-34, s. 272

Marginal note:Public benefit

 No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes defamatory matter that, on reasonable grounds, he believes is true, and that is relevant to any subject of public interest, the public discussion of which is for the public benefit.

  • R.S., c. C-34, s. 273

Marginal note:Fair comment on public person or work of art

 No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes fair comments

  • (a) on the public conduct of a person who takes part in public affairs; or

  • (b) on a published book or other literary production, or on any composition or work of art or performance publicly exhibited, or on any other communication made to the public on any subject, if the comments are confined to criticism thereof.

  • R.S., c. C-34, s. 274

Marginal note:When truth a defence

 No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel where he proves that the publication of the defamatory matter in the manner in which it was published was for the public benefit at the time when it was published and that the matter itself was true.

  • R.S., c. C-34, s. 275

Marginal note:Publication invited or necessary

 No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes defamatory matter

  • (a) on the invitation or challenge of the person in respect of whom it is published, or

  • (b) that it is necessary to publish in order to refute defamatory matter published in respect of him by another person,

if he believes that the defamatory matter is true and it is relevant to the invitation, challenge or necessary refutation, as the case may be, and does not in any respect exceed what is reasonably sufficient in the circumstances.

  • R.S., c. C-34, s. 276

Marginal note:Answer to inquiries

 No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes, in answer to inquiries made to him, defamatory matter relating to a subject-matter in respect of which the person by whom or on whose behalf the inquiries are made has an interest in knowing the truth or who, on reasonable grounds, the person who publishes the defamatory matter believes has such an interest, if

  • (a) the matter is published, in good faith, for the purpose of giving information in answer to the inquiries;

  • (b) the person who publishes the defamatory matter believes that it is true;

  • (c) the defamatory matter is relevant to the inquiries; and

  • (d) the defamatory matter does not in any respect exceed what is reasonably sufficient in the circumstances.

  • R.S., c. C-34, s. 277

Marginal note:Giving information to person interested

 No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes to another person defamatory matter for the purpose of giving information to that person with respect to a subject-matter in which the person to whom the information is given has, or is believed on reasonable grounds by the person who gives it to have, an interest in knowing the truth with respect to that subject-matter if

  • (a) the conduct of the person who gives the information is reasonable in the circumstances;

  • (b) the defamatory matter is relevant to the subject-matter; and

  • (c) the defamatory matter is true, or if it is not true, is made without ill-will toward the person who is defamed and is made in the belief, on reasonable grounds, that it is true.

  • R.S., c. C-34, s. 278

Marginal note:Publication in good faith for redress of wrong

 No person shall be deemed to publish a defamatory libel by reason only that he publishes defamatory matter in good faith for the purpose of seeking remedy or redress for a private or public wrong or grievance from a person who has, or who on reasonable grounds he believes has, the right or is under an obligation to remedy or redress the wrong or grievance, if

  • (a) he believes that the defamatory matter is true;

  • (b) the defamatory matter is relevant to the remedy or redress that is sought; and

  • (c) the defamatory matter does not in any respect exceed what is reasonably sufficient in the circumstances.

  • R.S., c. C-34, s. 279

Marginal note:Proving publication by order of legislature

  •  (1) An accused who is alleged to have published a defamatory libel may, at any stage of the proceedings, adduce evidence to prove that the matter that is alleged to be defamatory was contained in a paper published by order or under the authority of the Senate or House of Commons or the legislature of a province.

  • Marginal note:Directing verdict

    (2) Where at any stage in proceedings referred to in subsection (1) the court, judge, justice or provincial court judge is satisfied that the matter alleged to be defamatory was contained in a paper published by order or under the authority of the Senate or House of Commons or the legislature of a province, he shall direct a verdict of not guilty to be entered and shall discharge the accused.

  • Marginal note:Certificate of order

    (3) For the purposes of this section, a certificate under the hand of the Speaker or clerk of the Senate or House of Commons or the legislature of a province to the effect that the matter that is alleged to be defamatory was contained in a paper published by order or under the authority of the Senate, House of Commons or the legislature of a province, as the case may be, is conclusive evidence thereof.

  • R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 316
  • R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 203

Verdicts

Marginal note:Verdicts in cases of defamatory libel

 Where, on the trial of an indictment for publishing a defamatory libel, a plea of not guilty is pleaded, the jury that is sworn to try the issue may give a general verdict of guilty or not guilty on the whole matter put in issue on the indictment, and shall not be required or directed by the judge to find the defendant guilty merely on proof of publication by the defendant of the alleged defamatory libel, and of the sense ascribed thereto in the indictment, but the judge may, in his discretion, give a direction or opinion to the jury on the matter in issue as in other criminal proceedings, and the jury may, on the issue, find a special verdict.

  • R.S., c. C-34, s. 281

Hate Propaganda

Marginal note:Advocating genocide

  •  (1) Every person who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years.

  • Marginal note:Definition of genocide

    (2) In this section, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group, namely,

    • (a) killing members of the group; or

    • (b) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.

  • Marginal note:Consent

    (3) No proceeding for an offence under this section shall be instituted without the consent of the Attorney General.

  • Marginal note:Definition of identifiable group

    (4) In this section, identifiable group means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.

  • R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 318
  • 2004, c. 14, s. 1
  • 2014, c. 31, s. 12
  • 2017, c. 13, s. 3
  • 2019, c. 25, s. 120
 
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