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Facts[]

Campbell was a go-go dancer who danced completely naked in a public theatre in Edmonton. She performed "violent movements of almost all parts of her body, while naked, more or less in time to strongly rhythmic music". However, her boss had told her that a judge on the Supreme Court of Alberta had ruled that "bottomless dancing" was legal. This was true, however the decision had been reversed on appeal. She was arrested for violating s.163(2) (now s.167(2)) of the Code by taking place in an immoral performance in a theatre.

Issue[]

  1. Was this a mistake in fact or a mistake in law?

Decision[]

Appeal dismissed; conviction upheld, but discharged.

Reasons[]

Campbell claimed her mistake of fact applies as a defence. However, Kerans rejects this and says that s.19 of the Code applies to this case. This was not a mistake in fact; it was a mistake in law that made her "ignorant of the law". He says that the principle that the ignorance of the law should not be a defence is not justified because it is fair, but because it is necessary – even though it will sometimes produce anomalous results. Therefore he finds that the dancer's conviction must stand, as she is only ignorant of the law – which is no defence. However, he gives her an absolute discharge from her conviction as go-go dancing is not really a problem in Edmonton. He says the same thing about her boss, who was also convicted and discharged.

Ratio[]

  • Under s.19 of the Code, ignorance or mistake of the law is no defence.
  • A mistake of fact that would lead to the accused's actions being lawful if those facts had been correct can apply as a defence.
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