Archive/File: orgs/canadian/canadian-jewish-congress/marches-to-modems/mtm-005-00 Last-Modified: 1997/03/30 5. THE LAW by Steven H. Shulman There are many legal remedies available in Canada to respond to hate activity, be it hate propaganda or other criminal acts motivated by hate of a particular group or groups. This chapter will attempt to provide an overview of the most important legal remedies currently available and their relative strengths and weaknesses in combating hate activity. 5.1 Hate Activitv and The Law A natural question which arises is how to define the abstract concept of "hate". After all, hate in and of itself is an emotion rather than a concrete act. The emotion of hate often results in specific acts being carried out. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines hatred as follows: "prejudiced hostility or animosity (old racial prejudices and national prejudices).">Webster' s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary> The context provided by legislation and its application to actual events is often more helpful in defining terms. That view is certainly applicable to defining the concept of hate. There are a myriad of definitions which have been used by the courts in various instances. One of the more helpful definitions and that which carries the greatest weight in legal terms is the one developed by the Supreme Court of Canada in the criminal case of R. v. Keegstra (1990) 3 S.C.R. 697. Hatred connotes an emotion of an intense and extreme nature that is clearly associated with vilification and detestation. It 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. Although the definition in the Keegstra case involved the section of the Criminal Code of Canada which acts as the crirninal sanction against the most extreme forms of hate propaganda (ie. wilfill promotion of hatred against an identifiable group), the definition is relevant to the entire class of hate-related cases. There is a clear progression implied in the Supreme Court's definition of hatred. The definition deals with an emotion which can result in specific harmful or concrete acts (e.g. discrimination, violence, etc.) against identifiable groups in our society. Essentially, implicit in the definition is a continuum from hate propaganda, to discrimination, to physical violence in the worst case scenario. As with all other facets of human interaction, the law does not provide a solution to the problem of hate in our society. World history and current events teach us that humanity has not yet evolved to the point where it has produced a fool- proof solution to hate. Rather, legal remedies are among the tools available in the constant struggle against hate moving our society away from freedom and democracy. Other tools include education and the promotion of social interaction. However, it should be stressed that the law has an important role to play, most often in situations where education or the promotion of social interaction are non-starters. A common criticism leveled against legal remedies is that they are reactive rather than pro-active. Legal remedies are most often applied in response to conduct which has akeady occurred, be it the dissemination of hate propaganda or criminal acts motivated by hate against minority groups, although there are notable exceptions. However, the importance of legal remedies goes above and beyond a solely punitive function. Legislation, be it in the form of criminal sanctions, human rights law, immigration law, or judge-made law (ie. comrnon law) sends a message to our multicultural society about values of decency and tolerance accepted as the norm by our Government and, by extension, the vast majority of Canadians. Particularly in a diverse city like Toronto, the mere existence of legal sanctions to deal with those who would seek to attack identifiable groups because of their race, religion, ethnicity, beliefs, or other factors provides a great measure of comfort to minority groups. These remedies send the message that this society is different than those which have historically allowed abuses against minority groups, often with the state's help. In Canada, the state, through the law, plays a role in fighting such acts. Certainly, the legal remedies available need to be used to underscore that message. Finally, the existence of legal remedies which are available to combat hate act as a deterrent against hate activity. While it is impossible to scientifically measure how many individuals are deterred from promoting hatred or cawing out crirninal acts or human rights violations motivated by hate, as a result of existing legislation, anecdotal evidence provides some support for the argument in favour of deterrence. The best anecdotal evidence of the deterrent effect of anti-hate legislation in the Metropolitan Toronto area is provided by the rise and fall of local "hate telephone lines", discussed below.
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