moved that Bill C-305, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to my private member's bill. Bill C-305 seeks to amend a subsection of the Criminal Code which deals with damages to property due to crime, motivated by hate, based on religion, race, colour or national or ethnic origin. The bill proposes to expand this to include motivation by hate based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Also, the subsection is primarily limited to places of worship like churches, mosques, synagogues and temples.
The proposed Bill C-305 seeks to expand this to include schools, day care centres, colleges, universities, community centres, seniors residences and cultural centres.
Recently there were acts of hate crimes in Ottawa, motivated by hate based on religion and race. Synagogues, a Jewish community centre, a Rabbi's private home, mosques and a church were targeted.
Whenever these things happen, it is important for each and every one of us to stand up united to condemn these acts.
I am Hindu, and no Hindu temples in Ottawa were targeted in the recent hate crime wave. However, in times like this, we do need people from all different religions and races to stand united together. We need, each one of us, to speak to each other and in one single voice.
Let me quote Martin Niemöller, the prominent protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. He said:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Under this criminal subsection, if a person is found guilty of an indictable offence, the prison term is up to 10 years. If a person is found guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction, the prison term is up to 18 months.
After these recent hate crimes in Ottawa, several religious leaders have stated that education and compassion are more important than law and the consequent punishment to eliminate and eradicate these hatred acts from our society
However, while I agree education is the best long term solution, I also believe a strong law acts as a major deterrent. We have seen that we have combatted social issues like smoking, and wearing seatbelts through an effective combination of law and education.
At this point, I would like to quote Dr. Martin Luther King on the interaction between positive law, morality, and culture. He said:
It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me...So while the law may not change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men; and when you change the habits of men, pretty soon the attitudes and the hearts will be changed. And so there is a need for strong legislation constantly to grapple with the problems that we face.
Also, it is quite interesting to see people who diametrically disagree on ideologies seem to agree on the relationship between culture and law. I would like to quote Ryan Anderson who is the William E. Simon senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation. While I completely disagree with Mr. Anderson's views on pro-choice and marriage, I do like to quote him on culture and law.
Culture shapes law, but so too does law shape culture. The law both reflects our values and teaches values—especially to younger generations. The better metaphor, I think, is that of two coasts connected by a tide, that comes in and out, that picks up and drops off on the shorelines. Law and culture reinforce each other, either for or against human dignity and human flourishing.
Therefore, it is very important that we have a strong and robust law for hate crimes. Again, I agree that education is important, but I am equally confident that good law is also required.
There is also an interesting article that appeared in the Christian Research Journal, which said:
Because every law springs from a system of values and beliefs, every law is an instance of legislating Morality. Further, because a nation’s laws always exercise a pedagogical or teaching influence, law inescapably exerts a shaping effect over the beliefs, character, and actions of the nation’s citizens, whether for good or ill. Those who seek to separate morality from law, therefore, are in pursuit both of the impossible and the destructive. The question before us is never whether or not to legislate morality, but which moral system ought to be made legally binding.
It is heartening to note the near unanimous support I have received from all sections of society. Every person has expressed his or her support and encouragement. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the support I have received from a diverse group of religious and ethnic organizations. I would like to recognize and thank the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs for its ongoing support and its efforts to mobilize the stakeholders.
I would like to thank the following organizations that have pledged their support for Bill C-305: the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, World Sikh Organization, Coalition of Progressive Muslim Organizations, Canada India Foundation, Canadian Rabbinic Caucus, Association of Progressive Muslims, Baha'i Community of Canada, Multicultural Council for Ontario Seniors, Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Ghanaian Canadian Association of Ontario, Presbyterian Church in Canada, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at of Canada, Armenian National Committee of Canada, Canadian Polish Congress, Jamaican Canadian Association, Reconciliation Canada, Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, Vivekananda Vedanta Society of British Columbia, Temple Sholom of British Columbia, International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) of Vancouver, and the Akali Singh Sikh Society of Vancouver.
With respect to hate crimes, there are some alarming statistics that I would like to share today. As per a Statistics Canada report released in 2015, it was noted that 51% of police reported hate crimes were motivated by hatred of race or ethnicity, 28% was motivated by religion, and 16% by sexual orientation.
Furthermore, six out of 10 hate crimes were classified as non-violent. These would include crimes such as mischief, public incitement of hatred, and disturbing the peace. Mischief in relation to religious property and other types of mischief made up over half of all reported hate crime incidents. It was the most commonly reported offence. This is regarding the same subsection of the Criminal Code that my proposed bill deals with. Out of all of those crimes, 4% of mischief related to religious property was motivated by hate.
Four out of 10 police-reported hate crimes involved violent offences, such as assault, uttering threats, and criminal harassment. Among religious hate crimes, 18% were violent. Hate crimes fuelled by prejudice against sexual orientation at 66%, or against race and ethnicity at 44%, were most likely to involve violence.
There was a recent study by the Department of Justice on understanding the community impact of hate crimes. It states, “The commission of a hate crime is against not only the individual but the entire community.” It quotes David Matas as stating that “People live in community. Rights are exercised in community”.
The study continues:
With victims of hate crime, it is important to consider that the impact on the community is particularly devastating, as hate crimes are 'message crimes in that the perpetrator is sending a message to the members of a certain group that they are despised, devalued, or unwelcome in a particular neighbourhood, community, school, or workplace.
Furthermore, it notes:
As well, it is important to consider that the impact on the individual victim may result in the victim rejecting the aspect of themselves that was the target of the attack or associating a core part of their identity with fear, loss, and vulnerability.
The study concludes:
The data also showed that after the hate crime incident, many people experienced increased levels of fear for their personal safety and for the safety of their family.... As a result, many community members took measures to protect themselves and their family, especially members of the targeted ethnic identity community.
This bill expands the number of places to include schools, daycare centres, colleges or universities, community centres, seniors residences, and cultural centres, because the impact felt by those victims of hate crimes cannot be limited just to places of worship. The public properties proposed to be included have either all been subject to hate crime or are vulnerable to being a target of hate crimes. Whether it is places of worship or other properties, the negative impact of hate crimes on the community remains the same.
Bill C-305 will also recognize that hate motivated by bias based on gender identity and sexual orientation carries the same weight as crimes committed against religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin. I am open to amendments with a view to broadening and further strengthening the bill.
The issue of hate crime is truly one that saturates communities nationwide. While we may be shocked and appalled when these terrible acts occur, we must focus on how we may prevent them in the future. Make no mistake: this is an issue that affects every riding and every member of the House; this is an issue that goes across all party lines. There is no room for hate and/or discrimination in Canada. We are a nation that embraces its diversity and that is inclusive of people irrespective of their race, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation. I know—