Canada wants to prosecute moon crimes

A new amendment to the Canadian Criminal Code allows the country to prosecute astronauts who commit crimes on or en route to the moon.

Photo taken in Montreal, Canada
Roberto Anania / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Having lived the bulk of my life in relative proximity to Canada, I like to think I have a little insight into our friendly neighbors to the north. For instance, did you know they drink milk from a bag, and call their one dollar coins “Loonies”? And speaking of loonies — or, rather, lunars — did you know that Canada just decided to start prosecuting criminals on the moon?

On Thursday, Canada modified its legal statutes to allow for the prosecution of its astronauts who commit crimes en route to, and even on, the moon. The new rules also allow for Canada to prosecute other countries’ astronauts for committing crimes against Canadian space jockeys under the same circumstances. And, just so we’re clear about what we’re talking about here, there have been just 14 Canadian astronauts in history, none of whom, as best I can figure, have committed any actual space crimes, nor had any committed against them.

According to the CBC, the new law states that:

A Canadian crew member who, during a space flight, commits an act or omission outside Canada that if committed in Canada would constitute an indictable offence is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada.

As Gizmodo notes, Canadian law already had rules about crimes committed on the International Space Station (though strangely, Canada never brought charges against astronaut Chris Hadfield for murdering a Bowie classic). But the country has expanded its extra-terrestrial jurisdiction to the lunar surface ahead of NASA’s Artemis Program to return humans to the moon this decade. According to the Canadian Space Agency, Canada has earned two astronaut flights on those missions, in exchange for allowing NASA to use the Canadian developed Canadarm3 smart robotic arm system.

To date, instances of alleged space law have been decidedly, shall we say ... mundane. In 2019, NASA astronaut Anne McClain was accused by her ex-wife of improperly logging into the latter’s bank account while they were separated, and while McClain was stationed aboard the International Space Station. The allegation was investigated and ultimately dismissed. Still, if any upcoming Canadian spacefarers decide to illegally withdraw some loonies on their way to the lunar surface, well, Canada’s ready for them.