Government of Canada Announces Coming Into Force of the Citizen’s Arrest and Self-Defence Act

TORONTO, ON – Today, the Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Honourable Jason Kenney, M.P. for Calgary Southeast and Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, announced that Bill C-26, the Citizen’s Arrest and Self-defence Act, has come into force.

“The Harper Government is committed to keeping our streets and communities safe. Canadians want to know that they are able to protect themselves against criminal acts and that the justice system is behind them, not against them,” said Minister Nicholson. “Those who have been the victim of a crime should not be re-victimized by the criminal justice system.”

“Our Government is proud to stand up for honest, hard-working Canadians against thieves and criminals,” said Minister Kenney. “The so-called Lucky Moose Bill does this by reinforcing the right of business owners, like David Chen, to protect their property. Our Government will continue to stand up for law-abiding Canadians.” Before today, the citizen’s arrest laws were too restrictive and allowed a citizen’s arrest to be made only if an individual was caught actively engaged in a criminal offence on or in relation to one’s property.

The new legislation expands the existing power to make a citizen’s arrest. An owner, a person in lawful possession of property, or a person authorized by them is now allowed to arrest a person within a reasonable amount of time after having found a person committing a criminal offence either:

  • on their property (e.g. the offence occurs in their yard); or
  • in relation to their property (e.g. their property is stolen from a public parking lot).

The new citizen’s arrest authority only applies in circumstances when it is not feasible for a police officer to make the arrest. The police continue to be Canada’s first and foremost criminal law enforcement body.

This legislation also reforms the “self-defence” and “defence of property” provisions in the Criminal Code, which the police, prosecutors and the courts have acknowledged to be confusing and overly complex. These provisions have been simplified to more easily determine whether individuals who claim to have defended themselves, others, or their property, should be convicted of a criminal offence.

This legislation is in keeping with the Government’s Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, which is one of four priorities identified by the Prime Minister. This Plan focuses on tackling crime, victims’ rights, and fair and efficient justice.

An online version of the Citizen’s Arrest and Self-defence Act is available at

Backgrounder: Citizen’s Power of Arrest and Self-Defence and Defence of Property

What You Need to Know About Making a Citizen’s Arrest