Intimidating Parliament Laws in Canada

By Last Updated: June 18, 2024

What is an intimidating parliament charge?

Intimidating Parliament Charges in CanadaAn intimidating parliament charge is a serious criminal offence and occurs when a person commits an act of violence with the specific intent of intimidating Parliament of the legislature of a Canadian province.

Intimidating parliament is an indictable offence, which means it is a more serious type of criminal charge in Canada, and upon conviction, the perpetrator may face severe consequences, including imprisonment for a period of up to fourteen years.


 Some examples of an intimidating parliament charge may include the following:

  • Making bomb threats in or around parliamentary buildings or legislative assemblies;
  • Unlawfully entering the premises of Parliament or a provincial legislature with weapons;
  • Engaging in violent demonstrations or riots aimed at coercing legislative bodies to change their decisions or policies; and
  • Vandalizing or causing substantial damage to government buildings, vehicles, or infrastructure.


The defences available to an intimidating parliament charge are entirely dependent on the facts of your case.

However, some defences may include:

  • The accused was wrongly identified as the person who committed the violent act to intimidate parliament or a provincial legislature;
  • The accused did not intend to intimidate parliament or the legislature; and
  • The accused acted under duress.


An intimidating parliament charge is an indictable offence, which entails a maximum punishment as follows:

  • Imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

In cases of the intimidating parliament charge, it’s important to understand the potential consequences. The maximum punishment for this offence is a substantial term of imprisonment, not exceeding 14 years, which underscores the seriousness with which the legal system views any attempt to intimidate parliament or a legislature. However, there are no mandatory minimum penalties for this offence which allows the courts some flexibility to consider the unique circumstances of each case. It is important to note that if convicted of an intimidating parliament charge, the conviction can entail severe consequences for current and future employment opportunities and immigration status.

Have you been charged with Intimidating Parliament?

Our experienced team of criminal defence lawyers is standing by to help you fight the charge. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the specifics of your case and craft a formidable defence.

Call Now 1-866-939-5940

Overview of the Offence 

According to s. 51 of the Criminal Code:

Intimidating Parliament or Legislature

51 Every one who does an act of violence in order to intimidate Parliament or the legislature of a province is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

Evidence of Overt Acts

In proceedings for an offence against any provision in section 47 or sections 50 to 53, evidence of an overt act is not admissible unless that overt act is set out in the indictment or unless the evidence is otherwise relevant as tending to prove an overt act that is set out in the indictment.

The Guilty Act (Actus Reus)

The actus reus for an intimidating parliament charge under s. 51 is established by proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, of the following:

In cases of an intimidating parliament or a provincial legislature charge, the Crown must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused engaged in an act of violence, threat, or intimidation intended to disrupt or create fear within these legislative bodies. The Crown must prove that the accused’s actions were more than just a political expression or a lawful exercise of rights, but rather, they were deliberate and intended to intimidate.

The Guilty Mind (Mens Rea)

The mens rea for an intimidating parliament charge under s. 51 include proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that:

To secure a conviction for intimidating parliament or a provincial legislature, the Crown must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused possessed the requisite mental element to commit the offence. In this case, the mens rea involved proving that the accused had a specific intent to intimidate or create fear within the legislative bodies. It’s not enough for the accused to have engaged in the alleged acts; there must be clear evidence demonstrating that they acted with the deliberate purpose of intimidating or disrupting the functioning of these democratic institutions.


How to Beat an Intimidating Parliament Charge

Every case is different. The availability and strength of any defence depend entirely on the specific facts of your case. The strength of any available defence rests on the evidence against you and the precise details of the allegations. However, the following are some common defences that may be used when fighting an intimidating parliament charge:

Factual innocence

A strong defence against an intimidating parliament charge is to maintain that you are factually innocent. If you can show that the facts and the evidence do not support that you committed a violent act with the intent to intimidate parliament or a provincial legislature, then you may have a defence that you were factually innocent.

Lack of Intent

Lacking the intent to intimidate Parliament or a provincial legislature can be a significant defence in cases involving the charge of intimidating these democratic institutions. To secure a conviction, the Crown must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had a specific intent to create fear or disruption within these legislative bodies. If the accused can provide evidence or arguments showing that their actions were not intended to intimidate but rather were part of a peaceful protest, legitimate political expression, or some other lawful activity, it can serve as a strong defence.


Depending on the circumstances of your case, a possible defence to an intimidating parliament charge may be to raise an identity defence. In this case, for this defence to be raised successfully, you will have to prove that you were not the person who was intimidating parliament or a provincial legislature.

Any applicable Charter defences 

The Charter sets out your rights and freedoms before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights deliberately or inadvertently, it could aid in your defence. If any of your Charter rights have been violated before or after your arrest, you may be able to have some or all of the evidence that the Crown is relying on to secure a conviction excluded under s. 24(2) of the Charter.


The Criminal Code provides for a possible maximum term of imprisonment of no more than 14 years for those convicted of an intimidating parliament charge.

Upon conviction of the charge of intimidating Parliament or a provincial legislature, the sentencing provisions in Canada can vary depending on several factors, including the specific circumstances of the case. The maximum punishment for this offence is imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years. However, the actual sentence imposed can be influenced by various factors, such as the severity of the act, the accused’s prior criminal history, any aggravating or mitigating factors, and the judge’s discretion. In some cases, individuals may receive a prison sentence, while in others, the court may opt for a combination of penalties, such as fines, probation, or community service, based on the principles of proportionality and rehabilitation. It is crucial to consult with legal counsel to understand the potential sentencing options and their specific application to your case, as they can significantly impact the outcome following a conviction.

Frequently Asked Questions  

What is considered intimidation in Canada?

In Canada, intimidation typically refers to actions or behaviour intended to create fear, apprehension, or coercion in others. While the concept of intimidation is broad and can encompass various forms of conduct, it often involves actions that threaten harm, use force, or employ tactics to influence or manipulate individuals or groups. What is considered intimidation in Canada can encompass a wide range of behaviours, from making threats, engaging in harassment, stalking, or violent actions, to attempting to control, manipulate, or instill fear in someone. The context and intent behind these actions are crucial in determining whether they meet the legal definition of intimidation, which may vary depending on the specific provisions of the Criminal Code.

Can you go to jail for making threats against a member of parliament?

Making threats against a Member of Parliament (MP) in Canada can potentially lead to criminal charges and, upon conviction, result in a jail sentence. It’s crucial to understand that threats against MPs or any individuals are taken seriously, and engaging in such behaviour can have significant legal consequences.

What is the punishment for Intimidating Parliament in Canada?

The punishment for intimidating Parliament in Canada is outlined in Section 51 of the Criminal Code. Conviction of this offence carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years. While this maximum penalty is substantial, it’s essential to note that there are no mandatory minimum penalties for this offence. The actual punishment imposed can depend on various factors, including the specific circumstances of the case, the defendant’s intent, and the judge’s discretion. The severity of the act, any mitigating or aggravating factors, and the defendant’s criminal history can all influence the sentencing decision.

Articles & Resources

Egan: 1989 Hill hijacker won pardon, legal obtained 17 more guns

In 1989 a man named Charles Yacoub hijacked a Greyhound bus and brought it onto Parliament Hill. The incident resulted in a six-hour-long standoff on the lawn of Parliament Hill. Yacoub was charged with hostage-taking, intimidating Parliament, and aggravated assault. However, he was acquitted of those charges. Yacoub was convicted of forcible confinement and use of a weapon in commandeering the bus. The acquittal of the more serious charges has been questioned and discussed. Yacoub’s case is one of the only instances of someone being charged under section 51 in Canada.

You can read the full article here.

Toronto 18: Key events in the case

The events of the summer of 2006, known as the Toronto 18 case, involved a significant anti-terrorism sweep in southern Ontario. The arrests, totaling 18 individuals, revealed a complex situation with two distinct plots. One plan aimed at bombing the Toronto Stock Exchange and other prominent buildings, while the other involved an attempt to establish a large al-Qaeda-type cell in Toronto. The latter plot intended to arm the individuals with weapons and create mayhem to instill fear in the Canadian public, ultimately pressuring the government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. While this case primarily focused on terrorism-related charges, some may perceive the second plot as an attempt to influence governmental decisions through intimidation, potentially involving elements that could be considered intimidating Parliament or the legislature. However, it is essential to note that legal interpretations may vary, and any assertions of intimidation would depend on the specific evidence and charges brought forth in the legal proceedings.

You can read the full article here.

Contact Us

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, visit our location pages to contact our team.

About The Author

Michael Oykhman

Managing Partner

Michael Oykhman is a senior lawyer and founder of Strategic Criminal Defence, a full-service criminal law firm with central law offices across Western Canada and Ontario.

My professional experience consists of countless court appearances and thousands of successful defences and satisfied clients. Over the last 10 years, I have worked to build a law office where all the lawyers share our collective experience, resources, and passion to help people. Our team approach to legal representation is client–rather than only law–centred. We look for opportunities to add value to our clients through strategic thinking and creative solutions.

Ask A Question

We endeavor to respond to questions within 24 hours. If your matter is urgent, please call our office or submit a request for a free consultation.

Client Reviews

Michael Oykhman is a very professional lawyer and the first time I spoke to him he asked about my situation and he gave me some very helpful advice and assistance and also told me his odds of winning this case. During the days I was in contact with micheal I could feel the level of professionalism of him and his team, he is able to respond back to you with any questions you have within 24 hours. In the end he was as successful in helping me win my case as he had initially promised me.If you are still struggling to find a lawyer, I highly recommend Michael Oykhman.


Please give yourself a favour and contact Mr. Michael Oykhman if you need any legal advice or if you are in a terrible situation. Even-tough, the odds are not in your favour, still they will go extra miles to help you out in bad situation and get you favourable outcome. Moreover, They will work on your file even after the business hours. I don’t have words to say thanks to Mr. Michael oykhman and Kiran Cheema who had worked on my file and get me out of trouble. I’m very grateful for your assistance and exceptional service. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


I am grateful that Ms. Moira McAvoy was my lawyer, and I remain thankful to her for everything. She made a successful resolution to my case possible. Ms. Moira McAvoy is a professional, trustworthy lawyer, and a compassionate person. She is an excellent listener and knowledgeable of the law. From the start, she was an excellent guide. I did not know anything about the legal system and court, and she outlined everything clearly in advance, so I could understand things. She never rushed me through anything. She spoke clearly, explained everything, considered what I said, and provided options and advice. She kept me up to date on new information, requirements, and deadlines. She was always positive and this helped so much.


Ryan Patmore and his team are simply the best. I was bullied by CPS in 2020 and it landed me with three separate charges, assault, refusal to blow and DUI, which all went down as I was parked at a friends. After some research and a conversation with Michael, he directed me towards Ryan and at the time I didn’t know that would be a game changer in my favour! He is honest, transparent, helpful and a brilliant mind. He successfully appealed my license suspension with ATSB and then proceeded to get the crown to dismiss all my charges before trial. I never had to step foot inside a courtroom. If you are in need of a criminal defence lawyer, don’t think twice, get in touch with this firm and ask for Ryan Patmore! The guy is an absolute saviour.


Joseph Beller, from the very beginning when I first contacted and then retained Joseph as my representative I felt I was in good hands. When I emailed him with a question. I got a prompt response. We communicated often on the phone as needed. Joseph kept me informed as to the process. He made sure I knew all the potential results so I knew and could plan for the different outcomes. I know this his his job. But appreciate his professionalism and also his ability to not make me feel any extra stress. Well done.