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Last-Modified: 1997/01/13


Before presenting statistics on the incidence and reporting
rates of hate crimes, it is important to discuss the
question of how to define a hate-motivated crime.

2.1 Hate Crimes: The Problem of Definition

Perhaps the central problem in the classification and
recording of hate crimes is the issue of definition. The
empirical data that follow in this report must be considered
in light of the definitions which guided their collection.
If definitions of what constitutes a hate crime are highly
variable, this will generate inconsistency in statistics
purporting to measure the activity. The focus in this
section is on the definitions of hate crimes used by
different police agencies across Canada and in other
jurisdictions. First, however, it is worth noting a general
definition provided by researchers working in the area.
According to Garofalo and Martin (1991: 17):

     A bias-motivated crime is a crime in which the offender
     is motivated by a characteristic of the victim that
     identifies the  victim as a member of some group
     towards which the offender  feels some animosity.

As will be seen, the definitions used by different police
forces are more  specific and more restricted in scope.

2.2 Hate Crime Definitions in Other Jurisdictions

2.2.1 United Kingdom

The definition used by the police in the United Kingdom is
restricted to racially
motivated crime incidents, and assumes the following form:

     (a) Any incident in which it appears to the reporting
     or investigating officer that the complaint involves an
     element of racial motivation;
     (b) Any incident which involves an allegation of racial
     motivation made by any person (Maung and Mirrlees-
     Black, 1994).

The British definition suffers from the deficiency that it
excludes hate crimes directed at targets other than racial
minorities. Thus, other forms of hate crime such  as anti-
semitism, or anti-gay attacks are not captured either by the
official police statistics or by the periodic victimization
survey (British Crime Survey). On the other hand, the
British definition has the advantage of defining a hate
crime by specific reference to the perception of the
victim(s), even if this perception is at odds with the view
of the investigating officer.

2.2.2 United States

Definitions of hate crimes vary across the United States.
The following examples are representative of these:

     Hate Crime: Any unlawful action designed to frighten,
     harm, injure, intimidate or harass an individual, in
     whole or in part, because of a bias motivation against
     the actual or perceived race, religion, ethnic
     background or sexual orientation of the victim (IACP
     National Law Enforcement Policy Centre, 1991).
     An act which appears to be motivated or perceived to be
     motivated by the victim based on race, religion or
     ethnic background (Maryland: see Cook, 1991).

2.3 Hate/Bias Crime Definitions used in Canada

Some police forces provided a clear definition in response
to the Department of Justice Canada request; for others, the
definition quoted below comes from bias crime guidelines
provided to officers.

Metropolitan Toronto Police Force

     A hate crime is a criminal offence committed against a
     person or property that is based solely upon the
     victim's race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin,
     sexual orientation, gender or disability.

Halifax Police Department

     A hate crime is a criminal offence committed against a
     person or property, the motive for which is based in
     whole or in part upon the victim's race, religion,
     nationality, ethnic origin, gender, disability or
     sexual orientation.

Edmonton Police Service

     Bias crime: A criminal offence committed against a
     person or  property, that is based solely upon the
     victim's race, religion,  nationality, ethnic origin or
     sexual characteristic.

Ottawa Police Service

     A criminal offence committed against a person or
     property which is motivated by the suspect/offender's
     hate/bias against a racial, religious, ethnic, sexual
     orientation or disability group.

Winnipeg Police Department

     Hate crimes are traditional offenses motivated by an
     offender's bias as a result of religion, race,
     nationality or sexual orientation. 

Montreal Police Force

     The Montreal police force uses the same definition that
     is used in Toronto (see above).

Ministry of the Solicitor General / Correctional Service of

     Crime was motivated because of hate/bias toward the
     victim's racial, religious, ethnic or sexual

Policing Standards Manual, Province of Ontario

     A criminal offence committed against a person or
     property which is motivated by the suspect/offender's
     hate/bias against a racial, religious, ethnic, sexual
     orientation or disability group.

Ontario Provincial Police

     A criminal act against a person(s) or property that is
     based solely, or in part, upon the victim's race,
     religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

The RCMP does not use the category "hate crime" in any
formal way. However, some hate crimes are clearly addressed
by the National Security  Investigation Sections of the
RCMP. Criminal, political or religious extremism, for
example, can take a form that most people would recognize as
a hate crime.  Most of
the hate crimes described in this report fall within the
ambit of the provincial or  municipal police services,
rather than within the jurisdiction of the RCMP in its
federal  role. Although the RCMP does gather information
relating to ideologically-motivated  serious crime,
statistics are not routinely compiled on criminal incidents
that were  motivated by hatred.

One critical question springs out from this short list: how
inclusive should the  definition of a hate crime be? There
are clear differences between the definition used in Toronto
and Edmonton for example, in which the act must have been
based soley on some victim characteristic, and the broader
definition in which the words "in whole or in part" are
used. Clearly, a uniform definition is necessary if the
statistics are to be comparable across different provinces.

2.4 Towards a Uniform Definition

Before hate crime statistics can be collected in a
systematic way, a standard definition of a hate or bias
crime will have to be adopted. This will necessitate a
critical examination of definitions currently used by
Canadian police forces or organizations outside the criminal
justice system, such as B'nai Brith. Some components of the
definition will be critical. For example, the definition
used by the Halifax Police Department describes a hate crime
as an offence motivated "in whole or in part" by hatred of
certain victim characteristics. The Metropolitan Toronto
Police use a more restrictive definition of a crime that is
based "solely" upon a victim's race, religion, nationality,
ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability.

If the more general definition is used, there are likely to
be far larger numbers of hate crimes recorded by the police
across Canada. The Toronto version seems overly restrictive;
almost no crime is committed solely for one reason or
another. As with most human behaviour, hate crime may well
be multiply determined. Once again the European experience
is instructive. Hate crimes committed against racial
minorities in England or Jewish citizens of France have not
been random in the sense that any member of the particular
minority group has been targeted. Whichever  definition is
chosen, it must be applied across the country, or else hate
crime statistics  will present a distorted picture.

As noted by the Metropolitan Toronto Police in their
submission to the Department of Justice Canada:

     It is essential, in our view, that the definition and
     criteria for determining the extent of hate crime be
     standardized so that when comparisons are made and
     programs developed, the supporting data is sound and
     will meet the tests of integrity...[otherwise] the
     Metropolitan Toronto Police may report 150 hate crimes,
     and another police force report only 70  hate crimes.
     These figures, representing different criteria and
     definitions, would limit their usefulness in further
     analysis and program development.

The experience with the issue of crime definition in the
United States is also worth noting. By 1994, over 35 states
had enacted statutes pertaining to hate-motivated crimes.
These statutes take many different forms, but all states
have had to grapple with the question of the extent of
motivation required. There has been a fair amount of
American case law on the issue, and the general result lies
somewhere  between the extremes of total and incidental
motivation. That is, the state must show  that the accused's
hate motivation was a substantial motivation for the crime,
and not just incidental to the act. However, the prosecution
need not show that the crime  would not have been committed
in the absence of the hate motivation. To rely on an
exclusive motivation def nition is likely to have the effect
of  seriously underestimating the incidence of hate crimes.
Many hate crimes will not be classified as such if such an
exclusive definition is used.

This point can readily be substantiated by comparing the
hate crime statisticsfrom two forces using different
definitions, Toronto and Ottawa. As noted earlier,Toronto
uses an exclusive motivation definition. In Ottawa, however,
the Bias Crime Guidelines state the following:

     Bias is to be reported only if the investigation
     reveals sufficient objective facts to conclude that the
     offender's actions were motivated, in whole or in part
     by bias (Ottawa Police Service, 1 994).

Assuming that racial or ethnic hatred is a priori the same
in the two urban centres, we would expect a much higher
number of hate crimes in Toronto. There are approximately
five times as many Criminal Code infractions in Toronto than It would be reasonable, therefore, to expect the
incidence of reported hate crimes to be approximately five
times higher in Toronto than in Ottawa. In fact, a higher
proportion of racial and ethnic minorities in Toronto as
compared to Ottawa would lead one to expect an even higher
rate of hate crimes in Canada's largest city since these
minority communities are a principal target of hate crimes.
The expectation of a much higher number of hate crimes in
Toronto is also sustained by B'nai Brith data from the same
year (1993). B'nai Brith records almost half the incidents
of antisemitism in Canada as occurring in Toronto, with only
16 percent of all incidents taking place in Ottawa.

What do the hate crime statistics recorded by the police
show? In Toronto, there were 155 hate crime incidents
recorded by the police in 1993. This compares to 176 for the
same period in the city of Ottawa. The explanation for this would appear to be that one
force is using a higher threshold to define a hate crime (a
definition that requires exclusive motivation). The same
point can be made using American data. Levin and McDevitt
(1993: 171) note that:

     New York City recorded 525 bias crimes in 1991, while
     Boston recorded 218 incidents with less than one-tenth
     of New York's population. This statistic surely
     reflects the Boston Police Department's more expansive
     bias crime definition, or, more accurately, the lower
     hurdle for bias intent which must be met for bias crime

It is clear then, that a standard definition of hate crime
as well as uniform criteria for application need to be
developed. This recommendation has been made by several
critical groups in the area, including the Metropolitan
Toronto Police Force.  As well, the less restrictive definition by the
Ottawa police service (among others) would appear to be the
most appropriate one.

There is of course a danger to having a less stringent
definition. If the motivation is not exclusive,
interpretations of what constitutes a hate crime are likely
to be variable, and this will undermine the comparability of

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