End Racism and Hate: Your Right. Your Responsibility.
Hate Crimes in BC
What Is A Hate Crime?
Almost any type of crime committed against a person or property can be motivated by hate. These can include offences like assault, uttering threats, criminal harassment, and mischief, including graffiti.
Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code contains specific sentencing provisions relating to hate crimes. The law provides that when an offence was motivated by hate against an identifiable group, a court may consider that motivation as an aggravating factor to a criminal sentence.
Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code address hate propaganda.
Section 318 makes advocating or promoting genocide a criminal offence.
Section 319(1) makes it a criminal offence to communicate a statement in a public place that incites hate against any identifiable group, where it is likely to lead to a breach of the peace. For example, this offence could occur in the context of a demonstration or protest.
Section 319(2) makes it a criminal offence to communicate statements, other than in private conversation, which willfully promote hate against any identifiable group. This includes statements appearing in print or on the Internet, including in audio or video. This offence can also apply to statements spoken or written in a place accessible to the public, or statements distributed in a place accessible to the public.
It is important to note that hate propaganda laws do not require proof that the communication caused actual hatred.
Section 430 (4.1) of the Criminal Code addresses hate-motivated mischief. When motivated by bias, prejudice or hate, damaging or defacing places of worship, schools, seniors’ residences, or places used for social, cultural or sports activities or events that are primarily used by an identifiable group, is a criminal offence.
The law often balances competing interests and rights. In Canada, Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects fundamental rights to freedom of expression, while Canadian law recognizes a reasonable limit to forms of expression that willfully promote hatred.
The complex considerations around these offences means they are carefully considered by the police and prosecutors. Not all hate-motivated incidents constitute hate crimes or are prosecuted. If the matter warrants referral by police for potential prosecution, Crown counsel independently apply a publicly available policy specific to this topic
A hate incident is a practical way of defining a broader range of behaviour that may or may not meet the definition of “hate crime”. A variety of factors are considered, including the gravity of the behaviour, the nature of the available evidence and public interest considerations, and authorities may decide that some hateful, prejudicial or biased conduct will not be charged or prosecuted.
With all hate incidents, whether ultimately determined criminal or not, victims and community groups have a role to play.
Emotion of an intense and extreme nature that is clearly associated with vilification and detestation. Hatred against identifiable groups thrives on insensitivity, bigotry and destruction of both the target group and of the values of our society. Hatred is an emotion that, if exercised against members of an identifiable group, implies that those individuals are to be despised, scorned, denied respect and made subject to ill treatment on the basis of group affiliation.
Supreme Court of Canada - R. v. Keegstra