Is it legal to own a machete in Winnipeg? Lawyer breaks it down, after recent string of attacks

After a string of violent attacks involving machetes, Swidda Rassy speaks with a lawyer to figure out what the laws are when it come to carrying around a machete and just how easy it is to buy one.

By Swidda Rassy

It appears to be a more common occurrence in Winnipeg – violent attacks involving machetes.

After a recent string of violent attacks involving machetes, some are wondering how easy it is to walk out of a store in Winnipeg with one of the deadly weapons in hand.

CityNews found one Winnipeg store where they sell for $22.39.

While anyone can get one, criminal defence lawyer Scott Wilson says owning a machete in Winnipeg is technically legal, but there are contextual factors to take into consideration.

“I could go and get a machete without anyone asking any questions and I can take it in the brush and it’s a tool. There’s a layer of factors that they take a look at. When is a tool converted into a weapon?” said Wilson.

Wilson says carrying a machete for self-defence purposes is technically illegal because there’s the intent of using it against someone. The problem is, proving someone’s intent can be difficult.

“What I would say is the police might stop you because then at that point they might have reasonable and probable grounds to think that you are using it as a weapon. So, it might get through the first stage for them to put you under arrest,” explained Wilson.


In December alone, there were two reported incidents involving machete attacks. One was inside a Winnipeg Transit bus, where an 18-year-old man was charged with possession and assault with a weapon and another involving Shaone Ritchie, who was allegedly attacked by someone with a machete.

“He had an open beer in one hand and a machete in another,” said Ritchie.

On Dec. 29, Ritchie says after confronting a group of people who allegedly stole his Christmas lights, one of the members of the group struck him at the back of his neck with a machete.

“When I finally started getting back to the house and I couldn’t even walk straight, and I was stumbling a lot and I had a lot of severe pain in my chest and I immediately went on my phone and called 9-1-1 to get some help for myself,” he recounted.

READ MORE: Winnipeg man hit with machete, had vehicle stolen after confronting robbers: WPS

Last summer, Manitoba Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen sent a letter to the federal government asking them to make it harder for people to get bail if they’re accused of using a knife as a weapon.

But Wilson says that might not be the right solution to this problem.

“I think that the people that might be carrying around machetes for weapons might not be thinking of bail purposes or anything like that,” said Wilson.

As Ritchie takes a look back at that violent encounter that left him shaken up, he’s cautioning others to call the police, and not take matters into their own hands.

“The way I look at it, is don’t do what I did,” said Ritchie.

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