The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/canadian/canada/justice/ethnocultural-groups/ecg-012-01

Archive/File: orgs/canadian/canada/justice/ethnocultural-groups/ecg-012-01
Last-Modified: 1997/01/29
Source: Department of Justice Canada

12.1 An Integrated Perspective on Hate Crimes and Activities

The problem of hate crimes does not appear to be minor.
Anecdotal evidence points to the existence of wide ranging
and serious activities. Unfortunately, there are no reliable
quantitative data available on the extent and scope of hate
crimes. While there is data on how often the hate propaganda
provisions are employed, there are no official criminal
justice system statistics specifically on hate crimes. Some
police forces in the country are now beginning to collect
such data,<304> but there has been no national attempt to
collect statistics on criminal acts that are deemed to be
motivated by racial hatred. Nevertheless, newspaper articles
suggest that criminal acts of violence against property and
people, motivated by hatred against people because of their
membership in a group, do occur in this country and, while
they may be few in number, are a source of fear for personal
safety for ethnocultural groups and individuals. <305>

     Furthermore, hate groups are numerous and openly active
     in this country:
     In 1991, the Canadian Centre on Racism and Prejudice
     exposed the far-right network in Canada listing 44
     groups and organizations as part of this network in
     Canada. A recent issue of Klanwatch Intelligence Report
     in December 1992, an American publication that monitors
     hate group activities, featured a special report on the
     development of white supremacist organizations in
     Canada with a similar assessment of the network in our
     country....At this point, the white supremacist
     movement in Canada embraces dozens of organizations,
     active on a national, continental or local level. Some
     groups are made up of a few individuals that share the
     same views and programs, while others, like the
     Heritage Front, are made up of a few hundred
     individuals. In 1992, these organizations have seen a
     dramatic increase of their public profile, particularly
     for the Heritage Front, while gaining new recruits in
     most regions of Canada. The first three months of 1993
     have been marked by a definite attempt to unify the
     movement on a national basis.<306>

The problem is becoming an issue of wide public concern. A
recent Gallup poll suggests that the majority of Canadians
feel that racial intolerance has increased in the past five
years and that racial problems will increase in the next
five years.<307>

The problem of hate crimes is not likely to be easily solved
or addressed. The three aspects of the "hate problem":
materials, behaviours and groups are not distinct. Rather,
they are interrelated in complex ways, making an approach to
any aspect difficult. For example, the interrelationships
create multifaceted problems whereby "hate crimes" cannot be
addressed without dealing with "hate groups." As the recent
newspaper articles suggest, hate groups are involved in the
promotion and dissemination of hate propaganda as a
principal mechanism for spreading their messages and
beliefs. 308 These two aspects of the hate problem, hate
groups and hate materials are related problems. Attempting
to address materials without attempting to address the role
of groups in the production and distribution of these
materials is not likely to be as successful as addressing
both together as related aspects of one overall problem.
Recognition of the interrelatedness of the three aspects of
the hate problem provides an important first step in
achieving effective solutions.

On the other hand, attempting to address hate groups may not
have any great effect on the overall problem of hate crimes.
Hate groups "do not create racism, they organize it."<309>
If hate groups are organizers rather than creators of racist
attitudes and sentiments, the control of hate groups may not
have the desired longterm effect of controlling hate crimes
since this kind of approach would not address the existence
of attitudes and beliefs which tolerate and even condone
acts of discrimination against racial and visible
minorities. It appears, then, that addressing the three
aspects of materials, behaviours and groups as separate
focal points is not likely to be as effective as a more
rounded effort to combat hate crimes; and, addressing the
wider sentiments of prejudice and racism, upon which hate
groups play, would also seem to be warranted and important.
This is not to say that the three aspects of hate crimes
should not be addressed on their own, but a more rounded
approach to the problem, involving both legal and non-legal
approaches, is more likely to be successful.

Furthermore, hate groups appear to be sophisticated,
resourceful, and well organized in their efforts. For
example, the creation of a record company to produce hate
music and the adoption of the tactic of having it
distributed from a United States-based mailing address<310>
signifies that hate groups operating in Canada are
sufficiently funded to undertake large-scale and varied
activities; and that they are adopting strategies designed
to overcome the laws and resources in place in Canada to
combat their activities. Again, it appears that addressing
the problem of hate crimes will not be easy and a varied
approach to limiting the activities of hate groups and hate
crimes is necessary.

An informed approach should be based on empirical evidence
with respect to the nature, organization and structure of
hate groups operating in Canada as well as an objective
understanding of the extent of the hate-propaganda problem
and other forms of hate-motivated crimes. Unfortunately, the
empirical research in this area is lacking in the Canadian
context, and it is required to address these information

12.2 Materials Promoting Hatred

As noted above, Canada's Criminal Code contains provisions
to combat hate propaganda. These provisions against
advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred and wilful
promotion of hatred were created in 1970, following the
Cohen cornmittee's3" recommendations for such criminal law
provisions. However, there has been significant debate and
criticism on these hate-propaganda provisions. Two important
opportunities were provided by the Law Reform Commission of
Canada's 1986 study of the provisions,<312> and the creation
in 1988, of a governmental working group on hate

The working group was created to examine the existing hate
propaganda provisions with a view to making recommendations
to facilitate the prosecution of cases such as Ernst Zundel
and James Keegstra. The working group identified a number of
issues with respect to the use of the provisions and offered
a number of recommendations for improving the legislation.
One apparent problem that the working group addressed was
that the Criminal Code hate-propaganda provisions rarely
have been used in Canada. This suggests there may be
potential problems with the law itself, which might be
addressed to employ the provisions more often and with
better results.

The fact that the provisions are used rarely is also
reflected in the expressed concerns of ethnocultural and
minority groups in Canada that hate crimes, including the
need to better prosecute hate-propaganda laws, is one of
their key justice issue concerns.3'4 The main reason for not
enforcing the hate-propaganda laws appears to be the long-
recognized tension in the law between the need to protect
society from the harmful effects of hate propaganda which
entails putting a limit on people's ability to express their
views, and the expressed and important guaranteed right to
freedom of speech.<315>

In-dealing with the aspect of materials, the justice system
is faced with the task of ensuring that the harmful effects
of hate propaganda are minimized, but doing so through the
criminal law is difficult given the tension between free
speech and hate propaganda restrictions on communication.
Nevertheless, it may be possible to increase the use of the
Code by, for example, removing or relaxing (a) the
requirement of the Attorney General's consent<316> with
respect to genocide provision, or (b) the available legal
defences to the inciting and promoting hatred provisions.3"
Furthermore, there are other avenues available for legal
action such as human rights legislation and/or the creation
of a tort of group defamation. Nonlegal approaches could
also be employed to diminish and control the harmful effects
of hate propaganda. For example, an education program could
be undertaken to counter the claims of hate propagandists
and/or to inform people of what hate propaganda is and how
it effects them.

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