An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda)

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

This bill was previously introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Borys Wrzesnewskyj  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of May 4, 2006
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment expands the definition of “identifiable group” in relation to hate propaganda in the Criminal Code to include any section of the public distinguished by its sex.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

May 14th, 2008 / 6:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise and participate in the debate on Bill C-384, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief against educational or other institution). This bill would create a new offence in section 430 of the Criminal Code to prohibit hate motivated acts of mischief against an identifiable group of persons at an educational institution, including a school, day care centre, college or university, or community centre, playground, arena or sports centre.

I would like to congratulate the member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant for her initiative in introducing this bill and thereby raise attention of this type of hate crime in our society.

In discussing this proposed legislation, there are two main elements that should be underscored. First, the importance of fighting hate motivated crimes; and second, to provide protection to the educational and social places where ethnocultural and other identifiable groups gather.

These are places where people gather to joyfully share in cultural experiences, often passing on through generations the richness of our multicultural mosaic. These are institutions to which children are entrusted to be educated. Yet too often, those who would hate and cause violence target these very places of joy and education.

Canada is an open and welcoming society that has embraced multiculturalism as an underlying principle. Our multicultural mosaic is a shining example to the world of peace and harmony among all races, religions, ethnicities; in fact, humanity in its endless multitudes of variations. Unfortunately, there are those among us, individuals and groups, who would act to spread hatred and violence, even violence against identifiable groups.

In 2004 the pilot survey of hate crime was published by Statistics Canada. This study reported a total of 928 hate crime incidents.

Overall, 57% of these hate crimes were motivated by race or ethnicity. The second most common motivation was religion, which accounted for 43% of incidents. Sexual orientation was the motivation in one-tenth of the incidents.

Blacks and South Asians were among those most frequently targeted in hate crime incidents motivated by race or ethnicity. The majority of incidents by religion involved anti-Semitism followed by those targeting Muslims.

The most common types of hate violations included: mischief or vandalism at 29%; assault at 25%; uttering threats at 20%; and hate propaganda at 13%.

While statistics are important, I would also like to point out a number of examples of hate crimes against several communities, religious and educational institutions that make the case of supporting Bill C-384 even stronger.

On March 24, 2004, the Al Mahdi Islamic Centre in Pickering was intentionally set on fire. Its interior walls were spray painted with supremacist graffiti. On September 2, 2006, the Skver-Toldos Orthodox Jewish Boys school in Outremont was firebombed. On June 21, 2007, the community centre of the Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg Algonquin First Nations community in Quebec was vandalized with swastikas and white supremacist graffiti. On March 11, 2008, RyePRIDE, a community service group at Ryerson University was vandalized with hate graffiti.

The study also concluded that young people, those between the ages of 15 and 24, experienced the highest rate of hate crime victimization. This rate was two times higher than the next age group. As well, it was educational and other community institutions that were the most frequent targets of hate crime propaganda.

Acts of vandalism motivated by racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and hatred of the other are more than simple acts of mischief. To the victims and the community to which they belong these are traumatic assaults on the very core of who they are and their place in society. It is an assault on the very values of inclusion, tolerance and pluralism that are at the core of our Canadian identity.

I would now like to address a gaping omission in our current hate crimes legislation. According to the 1999 General Social Survey, 18% of hate crimes were motivated by hatred of a gender. Yet, gender-based hate crimes, misogyny and misandry, are not covered.

As it is currently drafted, Bill C-384 only addresses acts of hatred or incitement to violence against an identifiable group based on religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

As Valerie Smith, a leading expert and advocate on the issue of violence against women, underscores, misogynistic acts of vandalism carried out against a girls' school or university women's centre would not be covered under this bill because it protects only those groups identified by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. Bill C-384 adopts a limited list of identifiable groups found in section 318 of the Criminal Code dealing with hate propaganda.

For this reason, it would seem prudent to amend the proposed legislation to ensure that hate targeting a gender group is also included, because as the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics shows, women and girls continue to be targets of hate crimes at disturbingly increasing rates. Because sex, the legal term for gender, is not included in the list covered by this proposed legislation, girls and women will not be protected under this law.

As further underscored by Valerie Smith, this legislation would be enhanced if the more inclusive definition found in Criminal Code subsection 718(2) were to be used.

In 1996 this law was amended to allow courts to increase a sentence where an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental and physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor. There is no legal reason for Bill C-384 to use the limited list of identifiable groups found in section 318.

As section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms underscores, everyone has a right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, and in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability.

In the spring of 2005 I was reviewing Canada's hate crimes legislation and I noted that there were a number of categories, identifiable groups. However, I was startled to find an omission. Gender was not covered. That spurred me to draft Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), a private member's bill that is perhaps unique in the sense that all it entails is the addition of one single word to existing legislation, “sex”.

Returning to my colleague's Bill C-384, I think that besides increasing punishment of hate-based acts of mischief against an identifiable group, vulnerable groups also need assistance to better help protect themselves against these cowardly attacks. This would entail governments taking proactive measures to help defray the increased security costs that would have to be paid by vulnerable communities in protecting their institutions from hate-based attacks.

The current government has set up a pilot project with only $3 million in funding for the purposes of helping vulnerable communities to protect their institutions.

Canada's Jewish community estimated that it would require a minimum investment of $8 million to begin to upgrade the security surrounding its community centres and schools.

In many cases the communities whose institutions were attacked were forced to raise funds to repair and enhance security in their facilities. This has taken much needed funding away from the educational needs of children and youth.

In response, the leader of the Liberal Party announced in April that a Liberal government would create a $75 million fund to boost security at places of worship and community centres targeted by racist vandals.

It is my view that Bill C-384 is a worthy piece of legislation that should be supported by all members. It is also my view that Bill C-384 would be further enhanced by friendly amendments that would deal with gender-based acts of hatred.

When people talk of a future global village, I respond by saying that it exists here in Canada, in our urban centres. We are a shining example to the world of how humanity, in all of its variations, can live constructively and joyously in peace and harmony.

However, in our midst threats exist to our multicultural mosaic, to our Canada, a Canada which celebrates all of our diversities. With this legislation we will further diminish the ability of those who hate, who would do harm, and who would incite others to do so.

April 7th, 2008 / 6:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, initially, as the parliamentary secretary began, I was a little discouraged because he began diverting into various tangential discussions. However, he then came back to our legislation and to the essence of the matter. In fact, he quoted the particular section that lists out the groups that are covered by the legislation, the identifiable groups based upon race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Gender is not covered.

Bill C-254 calls for the addition of one word, “sex”, the legal term for gender, into the existing legislation.

When he said that the government has acted, it has. Three times members of the government blocked the passage of Bill C-254.

Just a couple of hours ago I received an excited phone call from my wife. She had received the results of an ultrasound and we now know that this summer we will have a baby daughter. I know that she will be born--

April 7th, 2008 / 6:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the spring of 2005 I was reviewing Canada's hate crimes legislation and I noted that there were a number of categories, identifiable groups, which were covered: race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. However, I noticed that there was an omission. Gender was not covered. That spurred me to call the Department of Justice to find out if perhaps there was other legislation that covered off gender.

I received a call back from an official who told me that it seemed to be an oversight. I thought to myself after that conversation, my goodness, what kind of Canada do we live in when this sort of oversight can occur? Is it a reflection of the gender inequality in our House of Commons? Or is it a reflection of society's tacit acceptance of certain hateful types of expression?

That spurred me to draft a piece of legislation, a private member's bill, perhaps unique in the sense that all it entailed was the addition of one single word “sex”, the legal term for gender, in existing legislation.

Since the original introduction of hates crimes legislation, there has been a diminishing number of hate crimes in Canada. We have become more accepting and respectful. In fact, we often now celebrate our differences. Unfortunately, women continue to be the target of hate crimes at increasing rates.

Several months ago, every MP in this House stood for a minute of silence in memory of 14 young women massacred at the École Polytechnique. Yet three times, a number of these same MPs have blocked the passage of Bill C-254 in our House of Commons, allowing the continuation of the spreading of gender-based hatred. It is a hatred with which vulnerable new generations are being infected.

For instance, a musician who has sold thousands of CDs in Canada raps these horrific lyrics:

Then punch a bitch in the nose
Until her whole face explodes
There's three things I hate: Girls, women,--

And he continues.

Minister, why are these lyrics legally protected? Yet, if we were to substitute equally pejorative terms for Jew, Black or gay, charges would be laid. Today, the hands of our police forces are tied when attempting to deal with this type of hatred.

Soon after introducing my bill, I received a letter of support from the office of William Blair, Chief of Police in Toronto. His letter stated:

The Toronto Police Service supports and applauds your efforts to combat the serious issue of promoting hatred and violence against women.

It is not just our police forces which support Bill C-254. The media violence coalition, representing some 160,000 teachers, principals and trustees in Ontario, is actively lobbying on its behalf.

Finally, I hope that the Minister of Justice will concur with the opinion of his colleague, the Minister of Finance, who, as Ontario's attorney general, stated in a letter dated December 20, 2000:

I will continue to ask the federal government to expand the definition of identifiable groups to include gender.

He further stated:

It is time for the federal government to provide such tools to prosecute those promoting hatred against women by amending the Criminal Code.

I hope that all my parliamentary colleagues will put their political differences and ideologies aside for the sake of Canadian women, to protect our mothers, to protect our wives, to protect our sisters, and to protect our daughters.

I call upon the minister to act and to add one word, just one word, “sex”, the legal description for gender, into existing hate crimes legislation.

Tough on crime should also apply--

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

March 5th, 2008 / 3:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place among all parties with respect to Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), first introduced during the 38th Parliament and reintroduced May 24, 2007.

This bill at long last includes the legal word for “gender” in the categories protected from hate crimes.

On the cusp of International Women's Day, I hope to find consent for the following motion: that notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), be deemed read a second time and referred to committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed.

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

November 29th, 2007 / 10:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for unanimous consent for the following motion. I move that Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda) stand in the name of the member for London West instead of the member for Etobicoke Centre, and that it stand on the order of precedence in the place of Motion No. 400.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

April 19th, 2007 / 3:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place among all parties with respect to Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), first introduced during the 38th Parliament and reintroduced on May 24, 2006. This bill at long last includes the legal word for “gender” in the definition of what constitutes a hate crime.

I hope to find consent for the following motion: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), an act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), be deemed read a second time, referred to committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

May 4th, 2006 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-254, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda).

Mr. Speaker, I want to table, for a second time, my private member's bill, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding hate propaganda.

The purpose of the bill is to expand the definition of an identifiable group under the hate propaganda provisions of the Criminal Code to include any section of the public distinguished by its gender. The way our current law is written, it is prohibited to propagate hate against an individual because of colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. However, it is not against the law to propagate hate against individuals because of their gender.

By enacting this change to the Criminal Code, Parliament can begin to address the serious issue of promoting hatred and violence against women or men. This is an amendment that should have been made long ago. It is my sincere hope that my colleagues on all sides of the House will support this worthy and overdue initiative.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)