The Criminal Code of Canada says a hate crime is committed to intimidate, harm or terrify not only a person, but an entire group of people to which the victim belongs. The victims are targeted for who they are, not because of anything they have done.

A hate crime is one in which hate is the motive and can involve intimidation, harassment, physical force or threat of physical force against a person, a group or a property

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Two Nova Scotia men were convicted under Canada's hate crime laws in relation to a cross-burning incident on the lawn of an interracial couple in Windsor, N.S. The photo is from the RCMP. ((CBC))

In Canada it is also a crime to incite hatred. Sections 318 and 319  are the relevant sections of the Criminal Code.

Under Section 318, it is a criminal act to "advocate or promote genocide" — to call for, support, encourage or argue for the killing of members of a group based on colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

Section 319 deals with publicly stirring up or inciting hatred against an identifiable group based on colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

It is illegal to communicate hatred in a public place by telephone, broadcast or through other audio or visual means. The same section protects people from being charged with a hate crime if their statements are truthful or the expression of a religious opinion.

The mischief section, 430, covers hate-motivated mischief and religious property in subsection 4.1.

It provides for harsher sentences than mischief involving other property.  Bill C-451, introduced in the last parliament, would have added schools, community centres, daycares and other property to 4.1. However, the bill died with the election call.

The section of the code on sentencing (718.2) encourages judges to consider whether the crime was motivated by hate of the victim's race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.

Under section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act it is a "discriminatory practice" to send hate messages via telecommunications equipment, including the internet.

CRIMINAL CODE OF CANADA
 
Section 318: Hate Propaganda
Advocating genocide

318. (1) Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

Definition of "genocide"

(2) In this section, "genocide" means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group, namely,

(a) killing members of the group; or

(b) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.

Consent

(3) No proceeding for an offence under this section shall be instituted without the consent of the Attorney General.

Definition of "identifiable group"

(4) In this section, "identifiable group" means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

 Section 319: Public incitement of hatred 

 319. (1) Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Wilful promotion of hatred

(2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Defences

(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under subsection (2)

(a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;

(b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;

(c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or

(d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.

Forfeiture

(4) Where a person is convicted of an offence under section 318 or subsection (1) or (2) of this section, anything by means of or in relation to which the offence was committed, on such conviction, may, in addition to any other punishment imposed, be ordered by the presiding provincial court judge or judge to be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of the province in which that person is convicted, for disposal as the Attorney General may direct.

Exemption from seizure of communication facilities

(5) Subsections 199(6) and (7) apply with such modifications as the circumstances require to section 318 or subsection (1) or (2) of this section.

Consent

(6) No proceeding for an offence under subsection (2) shall be instituted without the consent of the Attorney General.

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A swastika was spray-painted on a sign at the House of Jacob synagogue in Calgary in November 2009. ((Terri Trembath/CBC))

Definitions

(7) In this section,

"communicating" includes communicating by telephone, broadcasting or other audible or visible means;

"identifiable group" has the same meaning as in section 318;

"public place" includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, express or implied;

"statements" includes words spoken or written or recorded electronically or electro-magnetically or otherwise, and gestures, signs or other visible representations.

430.4.1: Mischief relating to religious property

(4.1) Every one who commits mischief in relation to property that is a building, structure or part thereof that is primarily used for religious worship, including a church, mosque, synagogue or temple, or an object associated with religious worship located in or on the grounds of such a building or structure, or a cemetery, if the commission of the mischief is motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on religion, race, colour or national or ethnic origin,

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months.

 Subsection 718.2: Other sentencing principles 
 718.2. A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:

(a) a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing,

(i) evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor,

(ii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused the offender’s spouse or common-law partner,

(ii.1) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a person under the age of eighteen years,

(iii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a position of trust or authority in relation to the victim,

(iv) evidence that the offence was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization, or

(v) evidence that the offence was a terrorism offence

shall be deemed to be aggravating circumstances;

(b) a sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders for similar offences committed in similar circumstances;

(c) where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh;

(d) an offender should not be deprived of liberty, if less restrictive sanctions may be appropriate in the circumstances; and

(e) all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances should be considered for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders.

 CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
 Section 13: Hate messages
 

13.(1) It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.

Interpretation

(2) For greater certainty, subsection (1) applies in respect of a matter that is communicated by means of a computer or a group of interconnected or related computers, including the Internet, or any similar means of communication, but does not apply in respect of a matter that is communicated in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a broadcasting undertaking.

Interpretation

(3) For the purposes of this section, no owner or operator of a telecommunication undertaking communicates or causes to be communicated any matter described in subsection (1) by reason only that the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking owned or operated by that person are used by other persons for the transmission of that matter.