While the act of giving someone the finger may be seen as impolite, insulting, and unsuitable, it is not considered illegal under Canadian law.
In fact, a judge in Canada recently upheld that flipping someone off is protected under the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Judge Dennis Galiatsatos wrote in his ruling on February 24th that giving the middle finger is a right enshrined in the Charter and is not a crime.
In May 2021, a dispute between two neighbors in a Montreal suburb brought the legality of a raised middle finger into question.
Court documents state that while Michael Naccache was outside of his home, Neall Epstein walked by and Naccache accused him of startling him and making vulgar gestures, such as a raised middle finger and a throat-slitting motion.
Epstein acknowledged using foul language and displaying his middle finger towards Naccache, but he claimed that Naccache was the one who instigated the argument and insulted him with offensive language. Epstein also denied making any gestures indicating he would harm his neighbor.
Afterwards, Naccache contacted the police, leading to Epstein’s arrest on charges of criminal harassment and making death threats against Naccache. The two neighbors have a history of conflicts, and police intervention was not uncommon in their disputes.
The judge ruled that nearby surveillance footage did not corroborate Naccache’s accusation and ultimately dismissed Epstein’s charges.
During his decision, Galiatsatos also said that “offending someone is not a crime.”
“The complainants are free to clutch their pearls in the face of such an insult. However, the police department and the 9-1-1 dispatching service have more important priorities to address,” he wrote.