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A friend of mine in university wants to ensure he can defend himself legally. In a library a group of individuals were talking enough to annoy him and as the library has explicit no talking policy he proceeded to tell the group of indivudals to shut the f up and after some brief exchange of words he gave them the finger and walked off. Clearly one individual from the group was verbally aggressive back. After said friend went to sit down he was glared at by said individual in an aggressive manner.

The day proceeded but my friend wants to know if he is allowed to defend himself if the other person some other time gets in his face or attacks him. Since he was initially verbally aggressive.

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Canada's law on self-defense can be found here. The force used must be "reasonable in the circumstances" and "the person's role in the incident" is listed as a factor to be considered. I think that's about all that can be said in general; a court would have to decide whether the standard was met in this particular case.

Previous versions of the law did explicitly limit, but not completely eliminate, the availability of a self-defense justification when the person provoked the assault.

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