Why Doesn’t Canada Use Its “Pretending to Practice Witchcraft” Charge More Often?

pentagramA Quebec man, who goes by the name Professor Alfoseny, was arrested in April, 2014 and charged with fraud for saying he was a:

Great clairvoyant medium, solves your problems, return of the beloved, luck, gambling, protection, etc. Guaranteed results

and then taking money for said services. It seems that Professor Alfoseny, who is really a 36 year old man named Yacouba Fofana bilked people out of their money, some to the tune of $5,000, according to the Crown.

What is interesting in this case is Fofana not only received a charge of fraud but also a more peculiar charge of “pretending to practise witchcraft”. At first blush, this may seem like an old charge on Canadian law books that hasn’t been erased but it’s actually legitimate. Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46) section 365 pertains to:

Every one who fraudulently

(a) pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration,

(b) undertakes, for a consideration, to tell fortunes, or

(c) pretends from his skill in or knowledge of an occult or crafty science to discover where or in what manner anything that is supposed to have been stolen or lost may be found, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

The funny thing about this law is the word “fraudulently”. So you can legitimately pretend to use witchcraft? Most likely you can, but not for money but that isn’t all that clear in this law. Further, why isn’t this law used more often to arrest people charging money to read your future in tea leaves, or talk to the dead? Not significant enough? Just not reported? I’m curious! I do hope it isn’t because these things are seen as exempt.

Sorcery lands you in jail for up to six months but along with the fraud charge, Fofana could be facing up to 14 years in prison.

Read more here, and here.

5 thoughts on “Why Doesn’t Canada Use Its “Pretending to Practice Witchcraft” Charge More Often?

  1. It might be an appropriate charge to lay against faith healers. I can’t imagine any modality more “witchcrafty” than faith-healing.

  2. I am guessing it is hard to prove intent. You would have to show they didn’t believe in their magic. Otherwise it would probably fail a charter challenge with regards to freedom of religion. The law was probably crafted with pro-Christian bigotry in mind.

  3. Would not the catholic church fit within “any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration”

    Exorcism?

  4. Every Sunday thousands of shamans pretend they are turning a cracker into some guy’s flesh.

  5. My friend was charged with this law and burned at the stake in Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre, Quebec in 1995.

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