Bill C-250 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda)
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.
This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.
Svend Robinson NDP
Introduced as a private member’s bill.
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Canadian Human Rights Act
October 18th, 2016 / 11:30 a.m.
Thunder Bay—Superior North
Patty Hajdu Minister of Status of Women
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Centre.
I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.
The bill is designed to support and facilitate the inclusion of transgender and other gender diverse people in Canadian society. Diversity and inclusion are values that are important to us as Canadians, yet we have heard repeatedly from trans and gender diverse Canadians that they still do not feel safe or fully included in Canadian society. Social science research also shows that many transgender and other gender diverse Canadians are not yet able to fully participate in our society. They face negative stereotypes, harassment, discrimination, and sometimes violence.
We know that discrimination and violence have significant impacts on social participation and an individual's sense of safety in the public sphere. Research conducted by the Trans Pulse survey found that approximately two-thirds of trans people in Ontario had avoided public spaces or situations because they feared being harassed or being perceived or outed as trans. The survey also indicated that the majority of trans Ontarians had avoided public washrooms because of these fears. Trans Ontarians also avoided travelling abroad, going to the gym, shopping at the mall, and eating out in restaurants, all commonplace everyday activities and pleasures that many of us are able to enjoy comfortably. However, for many trans people, these activities can be fearful because of their previous experiences of harassment and discrimination.
The research also shows that transgender or other gender diverse people face significant obstacles in obtaining employment. This is not due to a lack of qualifications. The Trans Pulse survey results I mentioned earlier showed that 44% have a post-secondary degree, but trans people are significantly underemployed, with many having been fired or turned down for a job because they are trans. Others felt that they had to turn down a job that they were offered because of a lack of a trans-positive or safe work environment.
It is clear that too many transgender and gender diverse people are being deprived of the opportunity to contribute to and flourish in our society. This is important not just for trans people but for us all. When a person loses an opportunity to work or is too fearful to go out shopping or eat in a restaurant, we all lose a potential contribution to the workplace, to the economy, and to our collective social life. Discrimination is a matter of concern to us all. It both undermines the freedom of those individuals to make the life they are able and wish to have, and it deprives us all of their participation in our society.
The bill would be just the beginning but is an important beginning. It is another step toward greater acceptance and inclusion. By adding the grounds of gender identity and gender expression to the prohibited grounds of discrimination listed in sections 2 and 3 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, we would protect the freedom to live openly.
The amendments proposed by the bill would make it clear that discrimination in employment against trans people is unacceptable and a violation of the Canadian Human Rights Act. An employer cannot refuse to hire or promote a qualified individual simply because that person is trans or gender diverse. These amendments will make it clear that federally regulated employers and service providers will need to provide accommodation for transgender and other gender diverse individuals when required and treat them in a manner that corresponds with their lived gender. Explicit recognition will also serve to promote understanding and awareness about trans people and their rights.
I now want to address one of the amendments that the bill proposes to make to the Criminal Code, which is to expand the hate propaganda offences in the Criminal Code to protect those who are targeted because of their gender identity or gender expression. To put this proposal in context, it is useful to give some of the history of these offences.
There are three crimes of hate propaganda. They were created in 1970. These are now found in sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code. These offences are advocating or promoting genocide against an identifiable group, inciting hatred against an identifiable group in a public place that is likely to lead to a breach of the peace, and willfully promoting hatred, other than in private conversation, against an identifiable group.
As we can see, a key element for all of these offences is the term “identifiable group”. When the hate propaganda offences were first created and for many years afterward, the definition of identifiable group was very limited in scope. It was defined in the Criminal Code to mean a section of the public that was identifiable on the basis of race, colour, religion, and ethnic origin.
In 2001, the then member of Parliament for Burnaby—Douglas introduced in the House Bill C-415, later reinstated as Bill C-250, and entitled “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda)”. This bill proposed to add sexual orientation to the definition of identifiable group in the Criminal Code. The member quoted in support of his bill a statement made by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1990 case of R. v. Keegstra, which upheld the constitutionality of the hate propaganda offence of wilfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group. The Supreme Court said:
The harms caused by [hate propaganda] run directly counter to the values central to a free and democratic society, and in restricting the promotion of hatred Parliament is therefore seeking to bolster the notion of mutual respect necessary in a nation which venerates the equality of all persons.
In 2004, Bill C-250 became law. As a result, the definition of identifiable group was expanded to include sexual orientation as an identifiable group for the crimes of hate propaganda.
I will now fast-track to 2014, when Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, received royal assent. One section of that bill amended the definition of identifiable group for the hate propaganda offences by adding more groups to that definition, specifically the criteria of national origin, sex, age, and mental or physical disability. As we have seen, the definition of identifiable group has been expanded considerably since 1970. This expansion reflects a commitment to equality and the desire of Canadians to protect more and more vulnerable groups in our society from the serious harms to human dignity that flow from the type of vicious hate speech prohibited by these Criminal Code provisions.
Bill C-16 proposes to add two new terms to the definition of identifiable group: gender identity and gender expression. Such an expansion is eminently justifiable on two grounds.
First, this expansion would extend to those in our society who are identifiable on the basis of gender identity and gender expression the same protections already afforded to other groups in Canadian society, such as those identifiable on the basis of their sex and sexual orientation. This would help to promote equality before the law and throughout Canadian society for trans people.
Second, this expansion would explicitly recognize that those who are identifiable on the basis of their gender identity and gender expression are in need of protection by the criminal law. For example, the Trans Pulse survey I mentioned earlier indicates that trans people are the targets of specifically directed violence; 20% had been physically or sexually assaulted for being trans, and another 34% had been verbally threatened or harassed but not assaulted.
Here in Canada, we criminalize hate propaganda, in part because it undermines the dignity and respect of the targeted group. It undermines their sense of belonging and inclusion in society. Adding gender identity and gender expression to the list would send a clear message that hate propaganda against trans and other gender diverse individuals is not acceptable.
I encourage all members of the House to support this bill.
December 6th, 2006 / 9:50 p.m.
Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON
Mr. Speaker, if he reads the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, his regional paper, it is right in the editorial. I have been very much a proponent of same sex marriage. I come from the same region as the member and I have more votes than either of the members who opposed it and the majority of votes supported same sex marriage in the election. They had a lucky split that might not repeat the next time. I think that is important for the member to understand and I suggest that he read the report.
He also asked why we would not continue to debate the issue. I can only say that we did not end desegregation and discrimination soon enough. If the member wants to look at hateful comments, all he has to do is go from the 35th Parliament on and look at comments coming from the Reform Party, the Alliance Party, then the Conservative Party as it relates to gays and lesbians. Be it the hate crime legislation or the identifiable group, Bill C-250, Bill C-41 or the one on equal marriage, he should look at the comments.
May 12th, 2004 / 3:25 p.m.
Statements by Members
May 4th, 2004 / 2 p.m.
Jim Gouk Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC
Mr. Speaker, democracy is defined in part as a government that is periodically elected and thus controlled by the people who live under it and the ideals and principles of such a government, such as the rule of the majority. How does that square with the current Prime Minister?
He is the man who voted in favour of preserving the traditional definition of marriage before being elected leader, then reversed his position after being elected. When asked about a referendum to let the people decide, he said there was no doubt that Canadians would vote to uphold the traditional definition of marriage and he could not allow the majority to override the wishes of the minority.
He is also the man who claimed he wanted democratic reform in the House but refused to allow a free vote on the useless, money consuming firearms registry. In fact there has not been a free vote on any legislation since he became PM.
This lack of democracy even reaches the Senate where the PM's Liberal lackeys used closure to force through Bill C-250 which stifles freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression.
About the only chance for democracy is for the Canadian public to replace the Prime Minister with a leader who will follow the real concepts of a true democracy.
April 30th, 2004 / 12:05 p.m.
Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC
Mr. Speaker, the final petition I have the pleasure to present today is from constituents from my riding of Prince George—Peace River, citizens from Fort St. John, Charlie Lake, Baldonnel, Buick and other rural communities.
The petitioners are deeply concerned that with the passage of Bill C-250, which adds sexual orientation as an explicitly protected category under sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada, this could impinge upon moral and religious doctrines regarding homosexuality. Therefore, they call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to be free to share their religious beliefs with no fear of prosecution.
Statements By Members
April 30th, 2004 / 11:10 a.m.
Andy Burton Skeena, BC
Mr. Speaker, this week the Liberal majority in the Senate passed Bill C-250. It was indeed a sad day in Canadian politics.
Many of my constituents in Skeena and I as their MP vigorously and vociferously opposed the bill as it moved through the House of Commons. The Liberal majority, with the help of both the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, supported Bill C-250 on its way to the Senate.
A government that supports such biased and undemocratic legislation as Bill C-250 does not deserve to be in office, much less re-elected.
I urge all Canadians to remember which candidates stood for freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of expression in this country whenever the upcoming election is called.
Statements By Members
April 30th, 2004 / 11:05 a.m.
Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to applaud the work of Canada's Parliament in passing Bill C-250 this week. Bill C-250 will amend the Criminal Code by adding sexual orientation to the list of groups protected by the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code.
The bill is a significant step toward protecting Canadians from hate based attacks. Bill C-250 will not infringe on the freedom of speech, nor will it limit the rights of individuals to disagree on lifestyle issues, nor will it criminalize religious text. What Bill C-250 does is to ensure equal protection under the Criminal Code regardless of sexual orientation.
I would like to applaud the good work of the members of the House who helped pass the bill. My thanks to all who helped pass the bill.
Canada National Parks Act
April 30th, 2004 / 10:20 a.m.
Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK
Mr. Speaker, things seem to change very rapidly in the House and this being a Friday it is expected that things get juggled around. However I was a little disappointed with Bill C-30, which was listed first and dealt with the budget, because I wanted to address the concerns of some people in Saskatchewan who were hurt by an audit that took place on amateur sports and which was not addressed in the budget. I brought this matter to the House two years ago and nothing has been done since then.
Even though this will probably be my last day in the House and last activity, I will not be done with that infraction against the province of Saskatchewan. I will have to take that up in public life.
When I first looked at Bill C-28 I could see nothing wrong with it. I could see that the bill, as it was presented to me, was to take some land from a park and add it to a reserve, mainly on the west side of Vancouver Island, to provide for additional housing and the growth of that particular community. That in itself I do not think any Canadian would deny.
The bill also deals with the Riding Mountain National Park in the province of Manitoba. There was an error there but I think that can be corrected. I do not think we will find any opposition to that.
When I look at the map of this area I see a number of little pieces of land which are listed as being Indian reserve land, IR, but nobody lives on them. They are not a place to live, even though they are on reserve, but what the bill would do for these 10 reserves is to provide that these people have additional land, as my hon. colleague mentioned, for the building of houses and so on.
What bothers me about this is that we have not heard anyone in the House talk about it. However I have not had this assignment long enough to know if indeed there has been any other action or opposition to the bill. I have never had the opportunity, and maybe that is my fault, to know if any environmental groups are opposed to it. I have not had the opportunity to know if all the other politically elected people, including in the province of British Columbia and the local municipal people, are totally in agreement with it.
One of the problems we have with the bill is that we are being asked to support the bill on the eve of an election and yet I, for instance, do not have all the information that I would like to have. I understand that access to the ocean and the beach will remain public but that point is one of the points that is under the memorandum of understanding and a memorandum of understanding is not a legal document. It can be cancelled at the snap of a finger. That causes me concern because, not only does that national park belong to the first nations who live there, but it belongs to everybody. Therefore, a memorandum of understanding, in my opinion, is not sufficient.
I do know that the Canadian Parks, the Wilderness Society and other groups have supported this but the Province of British Columbia has interest in the lands and I do not know for sure if it has totally given us the green light to go ahead with it. It concerns me a great deal when a piece of property within the province of British Columbia does not have the total okay of the provincial government. I think we should stop for a moment.
For instance, I know a family who lives just miles away from the Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan. If there were to be a change or alteration, that would affect them a great deal.
Therefore, the first people who would be affected and consulted would be the RMs of Mankota and Glen McPherson, and then it would go on to affect the provincial government. I cannot find if it has the total consent of the province of British Columbia. That concerns me.
Second, there are also concerns with the land use agreement. To bring the land use agreement up at the eleventh hour, which we are in now, bothers me a great deal. We have only heard from the groups supporting the agreement. We have not heard from any groups who are opposed.
If there are no groups who are opposed, that would be great. However, I have been around this place long enough to know that there is always someone opposed and always someone from which the committee and the House should hear. from. We have not done that and that makes me walk very gingerly on this bill. We have not heard from those who are in opposition. I have not and I understand that others have not.
I hope, hidden in this beautiful piece of legislation about a beautiful part of Canada, with a great idea for expansion for native housing, that I do not pick up the paper five years from now or even two years from now and see that the bill had a bit of a cynical trick to it. I have concerns that this bill is coming before the House at the eleventh hour.
On its own, I can assure the House that I would have no reason to object to this, nor would my party. However, the procedure is questionable and I worry about that.
This could be one of my last speeches in the House and I would not want to dare say that I suspect there is something wrong on the other side. Do not clap yet, because I will come back, even as a ghost, to haunt the House if this changes. I will be like MacArthur. I will be back because the bill is too important.
The bill will go through the Senate. Knowing what the Senate did with Bill C-250, I do not trust it either.
In a report of the Auditor General it states, “To promote accountability for implementation measures, we support the annual reporting of treaties and land claims consistent with the recommendations of chapter 9”.
The bill does not do that and therein lies my concerns. Does the bill have to pass right now? Is it really necessary for the next election? I cannot see any reason. I do not know any reason why I should not support it, but we have some very deep concerns.
On comes the bill with very little discussion. I have not been assigned to this long enough to even know if it has been discussed in committee, let alone having the opportunity to invite people so we could have this discussion in committee. We have not had that.
In conclusion, I hope, as I have said, that I do not have to come back here, even as a member to appear before the committee. I hope the government does not deceive me, or the House or my party, on any of the things I have mentioned, including taking away access to the beaches. If that portion of a beautiful national park is destroyed, all on the basis of a memorandum of understanding, that is not good enough for me, and I do not believe it is good enough for the people of British Columbia or the people of Canada.
Is it possible to hold the bill for a short time until it goes through the legal process?
April 29th, 2004 / 3:45 p.m.
Ken Epp Elk Island, AB
Mr. Speaker, several times in her speech the member said that all Canadians are entitled to their opinion. I remind everyone that she voted for Bill C-250 which rather decidedly prevents people from expressing their opinion. That is a serious error of the Liberal government.
On this bill, she says that the judge will take into account the age of the victim and the age difference of the so-called perpetrator. If I were the father of a 13 year old girl, and many years ago I was, and the 14 or 15 year old neighbour, near in age, smooth talked her into doing things that I believed were immoral and wrong, I believe that person should be just as guilty as if being a 20 or 21 year old. They may not do that.
In that sense, the bill fails to protect our children. A 13 year old girl or boy is entitled to protection of the law. The bill does not provide that. As emphatically as she said it, but on the other side, I urge all members to vote for this motion to send it back to committee so we can get it right and actually protect our children instead of having a bill that just has in the heading, protection of children.
Statements By Members
April 29th, 2004 / 2:15 p.m.
Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK
Mr. Speaker, the Senate may have seen fit to pass Bill C-250 yesterday, but that brings little reassurance to the hundreds of Canadians who have contacted me with their concerns about the legislation. They are worried that Bill C-250 will be used to attack legitimate forms of opinion and expression, rather than as a means of protecting minorities in Canada. The Owens case, in which a Saskatchewan man was declared guilty of a hate crime for advertising passages from the Bible, proves there is validity to their concern.
With so much of this soon to be law left open to interpretation, there is a definite opportunity to misuse and abuse. On behalf of my constituents in Blackstrap, I can only express my hope that the spirit of this law will prevail over its potential as a gag on our freedom of speech.
Statements By Members
April 29th, 2004 / 2:05 p.m.
Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Senate passed Bill C-250 by a vote of 59 to 11. This private member's bill was first introduced by the member for Burnaby—Douglas almost 15 years ago to include sexual orientation in the Criminal Code hate propaganda section along with race, colour, religion and ethnic origin.
Too often gay and lesbian people are targeted for violence, hatred and even death as in the tragic case of Aaron Webster. This bill, supported by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and attorneys general in Canada, is long overdue.
NDP leader Jack Layton and New Democrats join in paying tribute to those who made passage of the bill possible, including the member for Burnaby--Douglas and his staff, Corie Langdon and Dan Fredrick; Inspector Dave Jones; the bill's sponsor in the Senate, Senator Serge Joyal; and members of the House and the Senate who voted for it.
Together we are sending a powerful message that there is no place in our Canada for hatred and violence targeting gay and lesbian people.
Statements By Members
April 29th, 2004 / 2 p.m.
Vic Toews Provencher, MB
Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my concern at the decision of the Liberal majority in the Senate to invoke closure on Bill C-250 and to pass the bill into law. Bill C-250 broadens the hate propaganda provisions of the Criminal Code.
Former Prime Minister Diefenbaker warned that enacting these kinds of laws could have an adverse effect on fundamental Canadian freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression. His concerns are directly applicable to Bill C-250.
Unfortunately, most of the Liberals in both the Senate and the House of Commons rejected Conservative efforts to amend the bill in order to address these concerns, while at the same time ensuring that Canadians were properly protected against criminal action.
I would like to thank concerned citizens across Canada, including those in my riding of Provencher, for their ongoing efforts and dedication to prevent this ill-conceived bill from becoming law.
Committees of the House
The Royal Assent
April 29th, 2004 / 10:40 a.m.
The Deputy Speaker
I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
April 29, 2004
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 29th day of April, 2004 at 9:50 a.m.
Secretary to the Governor General
April 27th, 2004 / 10:25 a.m.
Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to present six petitions on Bill C-250. The petitioners believe that the addition of sexual orientation as a protected category under sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code threatens the ability of individuals to exercise their religious freedoms and to express their moral and religious doctrines without fear of criminal prosecution.
The petitioners call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to be free and to share their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution.
April 26th, 2004 / 3:10 p.m.
Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is on Bill C-250, the hate crimes bill. The petitioners want to bring to the attention of the House that Bill C-250 is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation brought before the House. It must not be passed in law because it would threaten all those opposed to special rights for homosexuals, including same sex marriage, with prosecution on the basis of alleged hate.
The petitioners, therefore, petition Parliament to stop the passage of Bill C-250 as it would severely limit the religious freedom and freedom of speech of all Canadians.