Skip to content

Ontario judge deems Toronto spa murder an act of incel-motivated terrorism: Crown

An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled the murder of a Toronto massage parlour employee amounted to an act of terrorism, setting a new precedent for Canadian law. The Ontario Superior Court building is seen in Toronto on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel

TORONTO — An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled that the murder of a Toronto massage parlour employee amounted to an act of terrorism.

Crown prosecutor Lisa Mathews says Justice Suhail Akhtar ruled Tuesday that the attack linked to so-called "incel" ideology is considered "terrorist activity" for sentencing purposes.

She says it is believed to be the first time in Canada that a court has made a finding of incel-motivated terrorist activity.

Terror charges were laid against a then-17-year-old boy after a February 2020 stabbing attack at a massage parlour in north Toronto resulted in the death of 24-year-old Ashley Noelle Arzaga and left another woman seriously injured.

Public Safety Canada said evidence suggested the attack was motivated by "incel" ideology, referring to a fringe internet subculture short for "involuntary celibate" dominated by men who blame women for their lack of sexual relations.

The youth, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, pleaded guilty in September to charges of murder and attempted murder.

Mathews says the presiding judge provided only a brief oral decision on Tuesday, with reasons for the ruling to come at a later date.

She says the Crown has applied to sentence the young person as an adult.

Legal experts have said that the incel-inspired attack's designation as an act of terror could force a reckoning of the courts' definition of terrorism. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2023.

The Canadian Press

Looking for National News? viewed on a mobile phone

Check out Village Report - the news that matters most to Canada, updated throughout the day.  Or, subscribe to Village Report's free daily newsletter: a compilation of the news you need to know, sent to your inbox at 6AM.