An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief)

Sponsor

Chandra Arya  Liberal

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

Status

Awaiting royal assent, as of Oct. 18, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-305.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to add to the offence of mischief relating to religious property the act of mischief in relation to property that is used for educational purposes, for administrative, social, cultural or sports activities or events or as a residence for seniors.

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.

Votes

May 10, 2017 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Feb. 8, 2017 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2017 / 7 p.m.
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Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

moved that Bill C-305, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief), be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking all members of this House. They unanimously supported this bill at second reading. 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, and national or ethnic origin. The bill proposes to expand this to include motivation by hate based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

In its present form, subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code creates an offence for hate-motivated mischief relating to religious property. Bill C-305 proposes to amend this section by expanding the scope of buildings to which this subsection applies. The proposed amendments add hate-motivated mischief directed at a building primarily used as an educational institution or for administrative, social, cultural, or sports events, or as a residence for seniors. These are in addition to the places of worship, such as temples, mosques, synagogues, and churches. The unanimous support for this bill, as received today, sends a strong message to all Canadians that we stand united against hate crimes.

Bill C-305 would expand the scope of motivating grounds on which the offence may be based. The current law only provides protection for crimes motivated by hate based on religion, race, colour, and national or ethnic origin. The proposed amendments would add the grounds of hate, sex, sexual orientation, and mental or physical disability.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has proposed amendments—

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2017 / 7 p.m.
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Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has proposed amendments which I humbly accept. It is my understanding that the government will support the amendments to Bill C-305 that were passed as the proposed changes are consistent with our government's stated commitment to diversity and inclusion. The amendments would protect additional groups and ensure consistency with other provisions of the Criminal Code, and address over-breadth.

I am honoured to have received support from many religious and community organizations all across the country. Organizations representing the Jewish faith, the Islam faith, Sikhs, Hindus, and Christians have overwhelmingly supported Bill C-305. LGBTQ2 groups have also been strong supporters of this bill. It is my hope that this bill and, optimistically, soon a law can bring some peace of mind by acting as a strong deterrent against these acts of hatred.

Hate crimes happen in small towns and large cities. They involve everything from simple graffiti to brutal murders. They may be called hate crimes, bias crimes, civil rights crimes, or ethnic intimidation. All these crimes are committed because of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or against other recognized groups.

Canada is an inclusive nation. We welcome people from all over the world, irrespective of race, religion, colour, or creed. Regardless of where people are from, what nationality they are, or what they believe, they will be treated with respect in Canada.

Although bigotry may be as old as humanity itself, the term “hate crime” is a new one, as is the idea of special treatment of these offences. The term “hate crime” came into common use during the 1980s, but the term is often used retrospectively in order to describe events which occurred prior to that era. From the Roman persecution of Christians to the Nazi slaughter of Jews, hate crimes were committed by both individuals and governments long before the term was commonly used.

We had certain dark episodes in our country: the Chinese head tax; the internment of Ukrainian, Japanese, and Italian Canadians during the First and the Second World Wars; our turning away boats of Jewish and Punjabi refugees; our own history of slavery; “No Irish need apply”; “We don't speak French here, so speak white”; the discrimination faced by Greek and Portuguese Canadians in Toronto and other places.

The same rhetoric that led to a “none is too many” immigration policy toward Jews in the 1930s and 1940s is being used to raise fears against Muslims today. There has been discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for a very long time. The Criminal Code once described gay men as “criminal sexual psychopaths” and “dangerous sexual offenders”.

In the 1960s, we deployed the RCMP to investigate suspected homosexuals. This discrimination still exists in Canadian society today.

While Bill C-305 would not solve every issue related to racism and discrimination, it would take important small steps in protecting those most vulnerable, strengthening the Criminal Code, and acting as a strong deterrent.

In my speech today, I will refer to an excerpt from the book Hate Crimes: Causes, Controls, and Controversies, by Phyllis Gerstenfeld. She writes that the birth of hate crimes in the United States was in 1977 when a neo-Nazi group called the National Socialist Party of America wished to hold a demonstration in front of the village hall in Skokie, Illinois, which had a huge, large Jewish population, many of whom were Holocaust survivors. One organization that paid special attention to this was the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, a group that combats anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. Alarmed by increasing anti-Semitism and frustrated with existing federal and state laws, it drafted a model ethnic intimidation statute in 1981.

Together with allies, such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Institute Against Prejudice and Violence, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, it began lobbying states to pass the statute. When it was passed, the model statute contained four provisions. The first of these is institutional vandalism, aimed primarily at people who targeted cemeteries, community centres, and places of worship. Bill C-305 would also deal with this provision, with proposed amendments to the Criminal Code.

Hate-based mischief can have a long lasting impact on the community. A recent study by the Department of Justice stated that the commission of a hate crime is against not only the individual but the entire community. It quoted David Matas who said that people live in community, their Rights are exercised in community. The study further stated:

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”.

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.

Since introducing this bill eight months ago, there have been a considerable number of high profile hate-related incidents. Right here in Ottawa, hate-based motivated acts were committed against synagogues, a Jewish community centre, a rabbi's private home, mosques, and a church. Then there was the horrific shooting at a mosque in Quebec. Whenever these things happen, it is important for each and every one of us to stand up united to condemn these acts.

The intent of the bill is consistent with our commitment to ensure equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, in keeping with the charter. It is also consistent with a clear message that hate crimes will not be tolerated in Canada. Bill C-305 would take a strong step in making our neighbourhoods and communities a safer place to live. Think of the strong message we would be sending to all Canadians that not only select people but all people in Canada can feel safer knowing that Parliament has taken concrete and strong measures to protect them.

Once again, I would like to thank all members for their continued support of Bill C-305.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2017 / 7:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, under the current subsection of the Criminal Code, vandalism against the Jewish Community Centre is not covered.

Under Bill C-305, with the amendments that have been passed by the Standing Committee on Justice, vandalism against the Jewish Community Centre would be covered.

That was a major focus of this bill, to expand the definition of property to beyond places of worship. The current subsection in the Criminal Code is limited to places of worship only, but with this new bill it would be expanded to include schools, community centres, cultural centres, and those used mainly by these identifiable groups.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2017 / 7:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in support of Bill C-305. I want to again take the opportunity to acknowledge my friend from Nepean for his hard work and his leadership in moving this legislation.

Bill C-305 seeks to amend section 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code, which relates to mischief against religious property. Section 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code makes it an offence for an individual to commit an act of mischief motivated by hate targeted at a place of worship such as a church, mosque, synagogue, or temple.

In addition to section 430(4.1), there is also a section of the Criminal Code that deals with mischief targeted toward general property. The reason section 430(4.1) was added to the Criminal Code to deal specifically with acts of mischief motivated by hate targeted at religious property was in recognition of the fact that such acts of mischief were different than acts of mischief to general property.

Take, for example, someone who sprays graffiti on the back wall of a restaurant. In such a case, the victim is the owner of the restaurant. Take the example of someone who sprays hateful graffiti on the back wall of a mosque or synagogue. That is an act that targets an entire community. It affects an entire community and it victimizes an entire community.

Bill C-305 would amend section 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code by expanding the categories of properties to not only include places of worship, but to include the likes of schools, community centres, and seniors residences. The expansion of these categories recognizes that mischief motivated by hate and targeted to people of a religious faith or a religious group often do not just take place at places of worship, but take place at religious schools, or religious community centres or religious seniors facilities. We have seen many examples of hate crimes that have been perpetrated against schools and community centres.

We saw a few years back the horrific fire bombing of the United Talmud Torah School in Montreal. More recent in Ottawa a string of mischief incidents were motivated by hate, which targeted a mosque and two synagogues, but also targeted a Jewish learning centre as well as the Ottawa Muslim Association.

Bill C-305 is good legislation. Its objective is laudable. It was why I was proud to speak in strong support of the bill at second reading. It is why I am proud to speak in strong support of Bill C-305 at this stage of the legislative process.

Bill C-305, upon passing the House at second reading, was referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which I am a member. As a member of that committee, I had an opportunity to study the bill in some detail.

Upon studying the bill, listening to the witnesses, and reviewing the evidence that was presented to the committee, I, along with the majority of the members of the justice committee, believed that in some respects Bill C-305, as originally drafted, was overly broad, inasmuch as it would apply not only to religious schools, religious community centres, and religious seniors residences but to all schools, all community centres, and all seniors residences. In my view, that would not be consistent with the purpose of section 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code, which was added to the Criminal Code in recognition of the fact that mischief motivated by hate targeted at religious property was a crime that was different, that was unique from mischief that targeted general property.

At the same time as finding that perhaps it was overly broad in some respects, I, along with the majority of the members of the justice committee, could not really see any logic as to why the section applied in cases of mischief targeted toward religious property but did not encompass similar acts of hate targeted at property associated with other identifiable groups. After all, when one commits mischief motivated by hate on a religious community centre, an ethnic community centre, or an LGBTQ youth centre, such acts of mischief are acts that target entire communities, affect entire communities, and victimize entire communities.

On that basis, the justice committee brought forward a few amendments to Bill C-305. As a result, Bill C-305, as amended, is, in some respects, narrowed inasmuch as it no longer applies to any school, senior centre, or community centre. However, at the same time, section 430(4.1) is expanded to encompass not just acts of mischief targeted at religious property but mischief targeted at property associated with any identifiable group, “identifiable group” being already defined in the Criminal Code.

I believe Bill C-305 would help send a strong message that hate crimes against any identifiable group would not be tolerated and that the perpetrators of such egregious crimes would be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Once again, I thank the member for Nepean for his hard work and leadership, and I urge the passage of Bill C-305.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2017 / 7:20 p.m.
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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again to speak in favour of Bill C-305. I would like to echo that thanks to the member for Nepean for bringing this forward.

In the current climate in North America and around the world, where there has been a promotion of hatred against all kinds of groups, a promotion of hatred that has often led to violence, this is a very important expansion of protections in Canada. I do not normally support amending the Criminal Code piece by piece, but the urgency of the situation we are in right now means that we should do this as quickly as we can, so I am very pleased to see this moving forward.

As people know, there are only two very basic things here. The bill says that places that are included in the law against hate-motivated damage should be expanded to include things we would all agree on. Very few Canadians would say we should not protect day cares, schools, and universities. Why would we not protect all those groups that are listed as protected groups under the hate crimes legislation? I think, in many ways, it was an oversight, over time, that this mischief provision was not updated as other laws changed.

Of particular concern to me, as an advocate for the inclusion of transgender rights, is that the original version of the bill actually was not consistent with Bill C-16, so I am very pleased to see that it has come back with a coordinating amendment. I am confident that Bill C-16 will pass through the Senate, even though it has taken an inordinate amount of time for that to happen. The legislation to add gender identity and gender expression to the human rights code and the hate crimes section of the Criminal Code first passed this House in 2011. Here we are, six years later, still waiting for the Senate to add those important protections. Therefore, I am very pleased to see that the bill has that coordinating amendment.

When the bill finally moves in the Senate, and my understanding is that hearings are going to commence tomorrow at the Senate committee, we will look forward to this coming back, I hope, before the House rises and therefore in time for what is known colloquially as the Pride season. It will give some additional thing to celebrate at that time.

I hope this bill will also be expedited in the Senate, if we can get it there, and that it will deal with this one quickly as well.

There are some people, mostly younger than me, who would be surprised to know that the original version of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms did not include protection for sexual orientation, let alone gender identity and gender expression. As I have said before, I was not a supporter of the charter at that time, because there was a debate about the inclusion of my own rights in that charter. A decision was made by Parliament at that time, unfortunately, to exclude sexual orientation. At that time, there was not even a debate about gender identity and gender expression. We have come a long way, and I am here today to salute that progress and to salute the committee for making sure that this progress is reflected in this bill.

It is an unfortunate fact in Canada that hate crimes that result in violence are most often directed at first nations people and transgender people. These are the two groups with the very highest rates of hate-motivated violence, so the bill would be of assistance in helping protect the community places where we would expect to find first nations people and transgender people in a safe place. It would help enhance that safety, which is so important.

I wish it were not true, but I know from the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, which is in my riding, that hate crimes, hate-motivated violence, and even hate graffiti often appear at their community centre. That is a great surprise to me. I do not think of my riding as one where hatred is that strong and where people are that disrespectful of other members of the community, especially the Native Friendship Centre, which is a centre where people who are trying to better their lives go. It focuses on adult education and employment programs. It is a very positive place in all those ways, so it is particularly upsetting when I see those attacks on a place like that.

While we originally started with churches that often do that positive work in our community, it is very appropriate that we expand it to these other places that often make such a positive contribution in all of our communities.

I thought a bit about what I was going to say tonight, and I was not going to go to the obvious place when we talk about the promotion of hatred, which is south of the border. I have to say, however, that in this connection there is an unfortunate spillover into this country. People talk to me about their fears and concerns. They talk to me about things which are not problems in the community which I represent. There are things that they see and hear coming from the United States, and this often has motivated people to be fearful, for instance, currently of refugees.

I had the privilege of meeting earlier today with a coalition of groups that support gay and lesbian transgender refugees from around the world. We talked about the group that has crossed irregularly into Canada. Anecdotal evidence tells us that around 40% of those who have crossed irregularly between the borders are from the LGBT community. Why are they doing that? The Conservative Party has taken a strong stance against the illegality of those crossings, but I argue strongly, as many others do, that under international law those are not illegal crossings. These people are fleeing violence and hatred in the United States. Talking to them about their experiences, especially those who are people of colour, they tell us they have become fearful of living there, and they see Canada as a place where they can find safe refuge.

This legislation illustrates the best of what is Canadian, and why people are attracted to come to this country. They want to find a safe haven. They want to be able to integrate into Canadian society, and make a contribution which will allow them to support themselves and their families. I was pleased to sit down at this meeting today and talk about those kinds of successes.

The Liberals quite rightly raised the goal of having 25,000 Syrians come to this country. In my riding, what was most impressive was how people with no particular connection to Syria stepped forward. They were not Muslims necessarily, and they were not from the Middle East. They did not have any particular reason to step forward, but as Canadians they felt that they should do their part. Many were from families that had immigrated to Canada, some of them from refugee families in previous generations, Hungarians and other people who had fled their homeland. It was so encouraging to see those people step forward and sponsor refugees. When the deadline elapsed saying they were no longer sponsors, there were no examples in my community where those ties that had been built under that refugee sponsorship program were broken.

There is some disappointment among those sponsors and with those in the community who see refugees as threats, and as bringing terrorism into the country. These refugees are fleeing terrorism and extremism, and they have come to Canada because, as the bill says, we are a tolerant country. Canada is a country which will not tolerate hatred and violence focused on religious, racial, sexual orientation, or gender identity grounds.

This is one of those cases where Canada has made progress, but we are not done. We have more to do. If the impact of this legislation is to expand those safe spaces for doing that positive work in our communities, then it has done a great thing. Without the member for Nepean bringing this legislation forward, we would have missed an opportunity to build a better and more inclusive Canada.

I look forward to this legislation making its way to a final vote here in the House and going to the Senate. I was asked, in relation to Bill C-16, to explain to a reporter how things get through the Senate. I said that, unfortunately, I cannot do that, and I am not sure there is anyone who can do that right now because there is a bit of chaos in the Senate over rules and how things proceed.

However, I am going to launch that plea again tonight, that when this legislation gets to the Senate that it be treated in a fashion that expedites its passage, so that we can have this in place as soon as possible, and give yet another symbol of what an inclusive country this is, and how we will stand up for people's rights and make them safe everywhere in our communities.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2017 / 7:30 p.m.
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Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Marco Mendicino LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise to speak to Bill C-305, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief) as reported back to the House of Commons with amendments.

I want to begin by commending the sponsor of the bill, my colleague, the hon. member for Nepean. I also want to take a moment to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for their dedicated work. I also want to commend the hon. member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke for all of his passionate advocacy over the years for the LGBTQQ community, and in particular for the transgender community, without which I do not believe we would be at this historical moment.

Allow me first to set the bill in the context of recent past events. As has been mentioned recently in the House, in January of this year, six people were murdered in a Quebec City mosque, an event that shocked and appalled the nation. In Ottawa there has been a troubling spike in the incidents of hate graffiti on synagogues over the past several months. Such incidents should cause us as legislators to consider how we wish to confront and prevent the commission of hate crimes in our society.

Bill C-305 is an important response to strengthen the ability of the criminal law to adequately denounce and deter hate crimes. It proposes to expand the scope of the current hate-motivated mischief offence now found in subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code. That provision, entitled “Mischief relating to religious property”, currently prohibits mischief committed against buildings or structures primarily used for a religious purpose, such as a church, mosque, synagogue, or cemetery. The offence must be committed out of hatred, prejudice, or bias based on religion, race, colour, or national or ethnic origin.

The current provision carries a maximum punishment of 10 years of imprisonment when prosecuted by indictment and a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail when prosecuted by way of a summary conviction.

The Criminal Code presently has a sentencing provision to address hate crimes. Subparagraph 718.2(a)(i) of the code requires a judge to take into consideration as an aggravating factor for any crime whether the crime was motivated by bias, prejudice, or hatred. This is based on a non-exhaustive list of criteria, including religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, mental or physical disability, sex, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.

Some may argue that given these existing provisions, there is no need to expand the offence of hate-motivated mischief any further, since what is not caught by current subsection 430(4.1) would be addressed at the sentencing stage when the judge must take into consideration whether the offence was motivated by hatred. However, I believe this is an overly narrow interpretation of the law as it stands, and we have an opportunity as legislators to address this.

I acknowledge that judges may rely on the existing sentencing provisions to account for hateful motivation, but I believe that by expanding the actual offence of hate-motivated mischief, we have an opportunity to send a strong message of condemnation to those who would commit such crimes.

Denunciation of this type of offence is not merely symbolic. Hate-motivated mischief carries a heavier maximum penalty on summary conviction than the general offence. In addition, by showing leadership on this troubling issue, we stand to raise public awareness in a real and impactful way.

As a result, while some may perceive a redundancy, others will recognize the benefit of providing a broader range of tools to our police, prosecutors, and other criminal justice professionals and, I would add, justice for victims of this particular type of crime.

I will now address the specific changes proposed in Bill C-305 as well as the amendments passed by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

As I noted earlier, the existing offence under subsection 430(4.1) of the code applies only to mischief committed against religious property. While this is one category of property that deserves special recognition, I believe that a broader diversity of Canadians stand to benefit from an expanded application of this section.

Bill C-305 addresses this issue head-on by amending the current hate-motivated mischief offence in two ways. First, the bill proposes to include new buildings or parts of buildings primarily used as educational institutions, including a school, day care centre, or college or university; used for administrative, social, cultural, or sports events or activities, including a town hall, community centre, playground, or arena; or used as a seniors residence.

Upon passage of this bill, therefore, vandalism committed against a Jewish or Muslim community centre would be caught by the expanded hate crime mischief offence and not just vandalism committed against a synagogue or a mosque.

I should note that a major concern for our government was expressed during the debate at second reading. The concern was that the definition of property that it proposed to add to the current offence was overly broad. The list of new properties caught by the bill appeared to be much broader than we believe was intended. For instance, the bill would have likely covered privately owned sports stadiums, as well as any buildings used for social purposes. In other words, it would have covered buildings that have no real connection to groups that are historically targeted by hate-based mischief. As a result, the government felt this aspect of the bill reached too far.

I am pleased to say that this issue was addressed by the standing committee during its study of the bill. Specifically, amendments passed by the committee require a building or space to be “primarily used” by one of the groups protected by the bill. This helps maintain a rational connection between the hateful motivation and the building that is subject to the mischief.

The amendment will help to ensure that subsection 430(4.1) does not accidentally capture instances of mischief committed against property that is not actually connected with one of the protected groups.

The bill proposes to expand the list of “identifiable groups” that are covered by the mischief provision of the Criminal Code to make it more consistent with the groups set out in the section on hate propaganda offences.

The definition of “identifiable groups” for hate propaganda offences covers not only groups that are identifiable by colour, race, religion, and national or ethnic origin—the motivations currently set out for hate-based mischief—but also those identifiable by age, sex, sexual orientation, and mental or physical disability.

Bill C-305 seeks to eliminate that inconsistency by establishing a list of motivations for hate-based mischief that is similar to that set out in the definition of “identifiable groups” under the hate propaganda section of the Criminal Code. In other words, the motivations of age, sex, sexual orientation, and mental and physical disability would be added as motivations for hate-based mischief as soon as the bill is passed.

It is important to note that Bill C-305 proposes adding another item to the list of motivations for hate-based mischief that depends on the passage of Bill C-16 by both the House and the other place.

My colleagues may recall that Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, proposes adding gender identity and gender expression to the definition of “identifiable groups” for hate propaganda offences.

My colleagues will also recall that, although Bill C-305, as introduced at first reading, proposed adding gender identity to the list of motivations for hate-based mischief, gender identity was not addressed in the bill. The sponsor of the bill recognized that this was an oversight. The amendments proposed by the standing committee corrected that omission.

As a result, once Bill C-16 comes into force, an act of mischief committed against property primarily used by a group identifiable on the basis of its gender identity where the mischief was motivated by hatred based on gender identity would be caught by this expanded offence.

To summarize, Bill C-305 would expand the current hate crime of mischief to clearly denounce additional types of mischief motivated by hatred against certain historically marginalized groups. It would therefore provide additional tools to our criminal justice system to protect Canadians from hate-motivated crime.

I would once again like to thank the sponsor for his outstanding advocacy on this issue, as well as the standing committee for its excellent work on Bill C-305. I sincerely hope that the hon. members of this House continue to support Bill C-305 in order to more fully protect the diversity of communities in our Canadian society.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2017 / 7:40 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, it certainly is a privilege to stand in the House and to have the opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-305, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief).

I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the discussion that is already taking place in the House today because I believe this is a very timely issue and it is one that impacts Canadians as a whole.

The bill addresses a current injustice when it comes to sentencing for crimes that are motivated by hate in Canada. Currently, if an individual is convicted of mischief, which is a fancy word for vandalism, against a place of worship, the maximum penalty for that is 10 years. However, if the same individual were to vandalize a religious school, or a religious recreational centre or a religious day care, the punishment for that same crime would only be two years in prison.

This is the exact same crime and it is motivated by hatred for an identifiable group, but the penalty is dramatically different.

Canada is a religiously plural and multicultural society. It allows its citizens to live out their lives according to their conscience, their beliefs, their values, yet throughout its history, Canada has experienced a regrettable number of anti-Semitic and racist acts of vandalism.

The recent and tragic events that took place in Quebec City not too long ago with the Muslim community and then in Toronto with the Jewish community remind us of the severe impact the manifestation of hate can have on the lives of Canadians.

Fundamental human rights and freedoms are infringed upon when hateful acts interfere with the ability of those of diverse faiths, origins and political affiliations to live out their convictions according to need. While race, ethnicity, and religion remain the most common motivators for hate-based crimes, Statistics Canada indicates that such acts of mischief are not limited to these groups. Hate crimes have also been directed toward those of different sexual orientation, those of a different political belief, or those perhaps with a mental or physical disability.

In a country that values both tolerance and respect, the fact that only those crimes which are carried out on religious property are indictable under section 430 of our Criminal Code is unacceptable.

Hate crimes affect a broad range of Canadian citizens, not just those within these religious organizations. A church community may meet in an old movie theatre, or it might even choose a recreational centre or a school. Therefore, it is possible then that hate crimes or vandalism, mischief, could then be committed against these properties.

Parents may also choose to send their children to a day care that is religious in nature because of their beliefs and values. At present, these properties do not benefit from the same protections under the Criminal Code. This is why I support the amendment brought forward today.

To fight to protect religious freedoms is a fight that we in our capacity as parliamentarians have the duty to address and to promote. While the damage of vandalism is generally minimal, the impact hate motivated crimes have on the targeted population is often absolutely devastating.

In 2014, over half of the hate crimes committed in Canada fell into what was known as the mischief category. This was 523 of the 1,170 crimes that were committed. That is a huge number. It is clear this legislation applies to the majority of hate crimes that take place within our country. Who are the targets of these attacks?

In Toronto, incidents of hate motivated crimes increased by 8% in 2016 alone. That is a significant change. Within that, Jews are the single most targeted group for the 12th year in a row. The Toronto Police Service 2016 Annual Hate Bias Crime Statistical Report also revealed that Muslims were the target of hate crimes at about half the rate that Jews were, so making up a significant portion of that population being discriminated against.

I find this very concerning. It is again the reason why I am standing in support of this legislation going forward.

Jews make up only 3.8% and Muslims only 8.2% of Toronto's entire population, but these two communities were the victims of more than half of all the hate crimes committed within the city. Across the country, the statistics generally fall into a similar pattern. We see the same thing when we look from one city to the next.

In addition, with members of the Jewish community being the target of most attacks, we also see significant attacks that are brought against Muslims, those who are black, the LGBTQ community, and those with disabilities. These numbers are horrifying. I would argue as well that they are not just horrifying but, together, they are an attack on our identity as Canadians.

Our Canadian identity is based on the idea of many peoples joining together toward a common purpose. Hate crimes against an identifiable group, often minority groups, attack this central principle of unity on which so much of Canada is built.

These crimes are intended to make a community of people feel excluded from being Canadian. Therefore, in order to protect the many diverse communities spread across our vast and beautiful country, we must take action. We must increase the protection that is available to those who find themselves victim to these hate crimes. To do any less would betray Canada's history, the history that we have fought for with respect to having a common and shared identity.

Given the recent history in the House and the political games the government has played with the Islamophobia motion as of late, I would like to speak to the difference between protecting freedom of speech and supporting the bill before us today.

One of the fundamental freedoms we enjoy in Canada is freedom of speech. Our constitution, the Bill of Rights, and our Criminal Code give the maximum latitude when it comes to freedom of speech. The only limits that can be placed on free speech, according to the Criminal Code, is if the speech wilfully promotes hatred against an identifiable group, or where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the public peace. In other words, unless people are focusing their hate on one group, to the point of encouraging violence against it, they have not actually broken the law.

However, even within this provision there is an exemption for criticism of religion. The Criminal Code states that a person is not guilty of hate speech if “in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text...”

Our law is very clear. Debating the merits of one's religion is not in fact hate speech. However, focusing hate on an ethnic group and encouraging people to attack it clearly is. This is the distinction: words versus actions.

I fully support the bill going forward, because whether someone has a difference of opinion on religious grounds, there is no justification whatsoever for physically attacking a person or a property that belongs to a person who holds differing beliefs. Canada was founded on the idea that we are rational human beings and that our differences of opinion actually strengthen democracy rather than hinder it. We believe the testing of our beliefs and our values by the diverse traditions of the people who make up Canada ensures the preservation of our democracy. This is why it is so alarming to see the limits being placed on free speech on university campuses across our country right now.

Furthermore, it is why the Liberals' poorly-defined Islamophobia motion was so incredibly misguided. Their motion could take away the freedom of Canadians to debate the merits of religious ideas, about which I am very concerned.

As an alternative to Motion No. 103, the Conservatives put forward a well-balanced and inclusive motion that focused on condemning acts of systemic racism against all religious communities and not just one. Given the Liberals' love for the charter, one would expect them to understand the difference between religious ideas and religious communities.

The bill before the House right now, Bill C-305, closes a gap that currently exists within our Criminal Code. I believe it is absolutely necessary for the Canadian public going forward. Hate crimes are absolutely disgusting. They go against our shared identity as Canadians. Increasing the possible sentences for those who commit such crimes is entirely worthy of the House. These provisions will continue to protect the freedom of speech that Canadians currently enjoy, and they will enhance religious freedoms by providing a stronger disincentive to commit hate crimes.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 3rd, 2017 / 7:50 p.m.
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Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my hon. colleague from Brampton South for her support throughout the process. I would also like to thank the hon. member for Mount Royal, the chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and all committee members who worked hard and delivered a bill that is more robust.

I am honoured to have received support from many religious and community organizations all across the country, organizations representing the Jewish faith, the Muslim faith, Sikhs, Hindus, and Christian faiths. They were all supportive. LGBTQ groups have also been a strong supporter, and it is my hope that this bill will soon become law and bring some peace of mind. In particular, I would like to recognize the support I received from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which worked hard to generate support from various stakeholders.

The consequences of hate crimes are considerable. A manual issued by the Attorney General of Ontario lists the impact of hate crimes on individuals, target groups, vulnerable minority groups, and the community as a whole. It says, on the impact on the community as a whole:

This, perhaps, is the greatest evil of hate crime. Hate crime can end up dividing people in society. In a multicultural society like Canada, where all groups are to live together in harmony and equality, hate crime is an anathema. Any occurrence of hate crime is a negation of the fundamental values of Canada.

Bill C-305 would codify the intent of this House into law. It would send a strong message to all Canadians that we stand united against hate crimes.

Once again, I would like to thank every member of the House who has, so far, unanimously supported this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2017 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in strong support of Bill C-305, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding mischief. I want to thank the member for Nepean for bringing this bill forward.

Bill C-305 would make small but significant changes to the way we handle hate-motivated crimes against communal spaces. There are many things we can do to stand up to discrimination and make our communities safer for all of us. This bill is one good step in that direction, so I hope we can all work together to see it debated, improved, and passed into law.

Canada is thought of, at home and abroad, as an inclusive nation, a place that welcomes all people, regardless of culture, language, or religion, with equality and respect. It is a country where diversity is not just accepted but celebrated. We strive to make Canada a nation free from racial intolerance and xenophobia, but recent events remind us that we still have more work to do.

Here in Ottawa, right here in the nation's capital, we have seen mosques, synagogues, and a Jewish community centre vandalized. We have seen discrimination in communities right across Canada, and in Quebec City this weekend, we saw where hatred can lead.

In Canada, racial and ethnic discrimination motivates about half of all police-reported hate crimes. Another quarter of these crimes are driven by prejudice towards religion, and that number, sadly, is rising. In just the last three years, hate crimes against Muslim Canadians have more than doubled. These statistics should not cause us to despair. They should call us to action.

Bill C-305 would expand the protection we give to communal spaces against vandalism driven by hate and discrimination. As it stands, the crime of mischief in our Criminal Code is punishable by up to two years' imprisonment, but where that mischief is motivated by “bias, prejudice or hate based on religion, race, colour or national or ethnic origin”, it becomes punishable by up to 10 years behind bars. This is only the case, however, when the crime is committed against religious property. It does not apply to other community spaces.

Bill C-305 would extend these legal protections to more communal places, including daycare centres, seniors' homes, schools, town halls, and sports arenas, granting them the same protected status as places of religion.

Let us be clear. This is not just some arcane criminal law question. It is about our values. It is about supporting Canadians' right to live without fear of discrimination and to enjoy spaces free from hateful vandalism. It is about making it clear that hate-fuelled vandalism is a hate crime, regardless of where it is committed.

A second benefit of Bill C-305 is that it would expand the list of discriminatory motives for hate crimes to include “gender identity” and “sexual orientation”.

Ten years ago, New Democrats pioneered legislation calling for the inclusion of gender identity as a prohibited basis for discrimination under federal human rights law. I want to acknowledge the incredible hard work and dedication of my colleague for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, who advanced the cause this far. I want to thank all members from all parties who have joined that cause along the way. Because of the efforts and advocacy of thousands of Canadians, that cause succeeded in passing Bill C-16 recently, which is a milestone in Canada's commitment to inclusion and protection for all.

However, as it stands, the wording of Bill C-305 before us today is inconsistent with Bill C-16 in that it includes gender identity but does not include gender expression. Therefore, for the sake of clarity and consistency, I would propose that both be included and protected by this bill.

We know that one in six hate crimes in Canada is motivated by discrimination toward sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. These are not the most common hate crimes, but they are the most likely to be violent.

I believe an amendment at committee to mirror the language used in Bill C-16 and change “gender identity” to “gender identity or expression” would strengthen the bill and affirm our policy of zero tolerance for transphobic discrimination.

These and other amendments can be considered at committee. However, I want to thank, again, the member for Ottawa West—Nepean for opening the door for much-needed conversation on hate crimes in Canada.

Better laws can counteract these offences. However, changing laws is obviously not enough. We need to teach empathy in our schools, tolerance in our workplaces, and openness and inclusivity in our community centres and spaces. We have a responsibility, now more than ever, to stand up to discrimination. The roots of prejudice are in lack of understanding, and that is within our power to change.

We know that Canada is not immune to the disturbing trends we see south of the border and across Europe. We have seen how playing with the fire of fear and division can spark violence. However, we have also seen acts of great strength. We have seen citizens speaking up for their friends, for their colleagues, or for complete strangers, refusing to let differences divide them. Now is the time when we must look to that strength and reaffirm our commitment to building a safe, resilient, and welcoming Canada for all.

We know what happens when we fail to stand up to those who seek to divide us.

This week, six Canadians were murdered in a mosque, targeted because of their faith. That act of violence shook our country and triggered an outpouring of support for our Muslim friends and neighbours, as Canadians gathered in vigils across the country to remember the victims. However, we cannot ignore that the hatred that led to a gunman in a mosque in Sainte-Foy, Quebec, is not so different from what drives a teenager to spray a swastika on a door in Ottawa or a commuter to hurl racial slurs on a streetcar in Toronto.

It is critical, now more than ever, that we condemn, not only these acts, but also the divisive rhetoric that inspires them.

At a time when so many are fearful, we can lead by example. We can do more to protect the diversity we are so quick to call our greatest strength.

Every individual in Canada has the right to live without fear of persecution. This bill would be one more step to ensuring that right is protected. I urge every parliamentarian to commit to that cause and support the bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2017 / 5:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to acknowledge the effort made by my colleague, who just advanced the clock in the House. I am very pleased that you heard the right time when he said it because it was a praiseworthy effort and it was very kind of him to speak to all of us in the House in French.

I am usually very happy to rise in the House to speak to different bills, whether they are government or private members' bills, as is the case this evening with the member for Nepean's Bill C-305. I will be very clear. I am unhappy to rise today not because of the substance of the bill, but because we have to pass a bill such as this one.

Sunday's tragic events in Quebec remind us that it is important to protect everyone living in this country from hate crimes. It is our role as parliamentarians to take action, as the member for Nepean is doing, so that we can intervene when such crimes occur.

Bill C-305 seeks to amend section 430 of the Criminal Code, which criminalizes the commission of mischief motivated by hate toward a group and targeting a religious property, be it a church, synagogue, temple or cemetery. Bill C-305 goes further, proposing to expand the scope of section 430 of the Criminal Code to include other types of property such as schools, other educational institutions, cultural or sports centres, seniors’ residences and other institutions.

As has been said, the bill could not be more welcome. It aims to fill a gap in section 430 of the Criminal Code. The fact is that, if a person motivated by hate against a particular group commits mischief against a religious property such as a place of worship, that person could be charged, prosecuted, and found guilty under section 430 of the Criminal Code. If the person is convicted he or she could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison.

On the other hand, if that same person, being motivated by the same hate against the same group, should commit the same mischief, but against a school, a recreational facility, or a residence for seniors, that person could not be charged under section 430 of the Criminal Code and would not be liable to a maximum prison term of 10 years. That person would probably be prosecuted under the general mischief provisions of the Criminal Code, and be liable to a maximum sentence of two years.

Later in my speech I will describe one very specific case where the person was not given a prison term for an act of hatred such as this. The sad fact is that certain hate crimes are committed on a regular basis. According to Statistics Canada, nearly 1,300 hate crimes were reported in 2014. These were just the crimes that were reported. Statistics Canada informs us that the vast majority of hate crimes are not reported. People would rather not report them. They would rather not draw attention to this sort of crimes, not make them public knowledge, not deal with them, with the result that the intolerable is tolerated, to the point that acts that are even more violent are unfortunately committed. In 60% of cases, the crimes reported involved mischief.

I would like to read some excerpts from an article published on l'Actualité's website on January 31 following the tragic events in Quebec City. The title of the article is “Hate Crimes Targeting Religion on the Rise in Quebec”.

The article says:

...since Sunday, the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization and the Montreal police service have been receiving more calls than usual. Quebec's public safety ministry logged 93 hate crimes against all religions in 2014 compared to just 70 in 2010. Many of the crimes were mischief, which includes vandalism. The ministry was able to provide details about crimes against Muslims, but only for the past two years. It began keeping track of details about religion-related hate crimes in 2013 and reported that there were 20 hate crimes against Muslims that year. In 2014, that number increased by 15 to 35. According to Montreal police, hate crimes linked to religion are also on the rise. The police logged 55 in 2016 compared to 24 in 2013...

The article does not specify which religions were targeted, but I do not think that is what the debate is about. Whether they target a religion or a group, all such actions are totally unacceptable today. As I said, while many crimes or wrongdoings may not have been reported to police, not all wrongdoings that were reported led to criminal convictions.

The Montreal police service also indicated that it had received a number of calls early in the week from people denouncing hateful or Islamophobic comments on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Some of those comments were even criminal in nature, including threats for example.

The good news is that since Sunday, people are paying more attention. People are reporting those comments; they are no longer tolerating them. Whether on Twitter or Facebook, on a church or a school, such comments should never be tolerated.

During that same period, the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence reported 14 hate incidents—targeting, for example, ethnic origin or sexual orientation—and 16 cases of Islamophobia, for a total of 30 cases. Of that number, only half were reported to police. Many people do not report hate crimes. “They are uncomfortable or nervous”, regrets the centre's director.

In Sherbrooke, in 2014, a local man committed hateful acts against a mosque and a store that sells halal products. He got a $500 fine for putting up signs that said, “no to Islam and yes to the charter”. He was referring to the Quebec government's proposed charter of values under then premier Pauline Marois. Worse yet, bullet holes were found in the windows of a grocery store owned by a Muslim in Sherbrooke. The individual was given a $500 fine and two years' probation.

More attention should have been paid to those incidents. They are indicative of a deep malaise and serious societal dysfunction. Those are things that needs to be addressed. Each of these incidents is important because we need to prevent them from escalating into a tragedy like the one that occurred on Sunday in Quebec City.

I rarely do this, but I would like to quote one of my colleagues opposite. The comments he made this week touched every member of the House. I would like to share the words of the member for Louis-Hébert with my constituents in Mégantic—L'Érable. His remarks were so eloquent that I will quote him directly. He said:

Today, I also want to ask their forgiveness, forgiveness for watching while, over the past few years, they were ostracized and stigmatized, while fear, mistrust, and hatred took root in the hearts of my fellow human beings. I did my best to do something about it, but I ask their forgiveness for not doing enough. Words have consequences, but so does silence.

I commend my colleague from Louis-Hébert for those remarks. As members of Parliament, we need to take note of what he said. Silence has consequences. As parliamentarians, failure to act in these situations also has consequences.

I am very pleased with the private member's bill introduced by my colleague from Nepean because it breaks that silence. It helps us, as parliamentarians, do what we can to put an end to the hateful acts that are occurring in our country.

Bill C-305 adds to what we, as parliamentarians, can do to counter hate crimes. That is why I want to commend my colleague and tell him that I fully support this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2017 / 5:35 p.m.
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Scarborough Southwest Ontario

Liberal

Bill Blair LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to join in the second reading debate of Bill C-305, an act to amend the Criminal Code concerning mischief, which was introduced in the House on September 27 by the member for Nepean.

I would like to begin by thanking the member for Nepean for bringing this important issue before the chamber to give this Parliament an opportunity to speak to it.

I also want to thank and commend the member for Victoria and the member for Mégantic—L'Érable for their remarks, which were very timely and appropriate as well.

We have been tragically reminded of the impact that hate in all of its manifestations can have on our society. The horrific attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec on Sunday night, the hate-inspired acts of terror which occurred that evening taking six of our fellow citizens' lives, injuring so many, and tragically traumatizing a community and a nation must deepen our resolve to confront and prevent hate in all of its manifestations.

In my experience, the issue of hate does not immediately manifest itself in acts of terror and murder, but far more often is expressed in acts of mischief. Our failure as a society to confront and deal appropriately with these acts, to denounce them in our strongest forms, and to resolve them through appropriate serious consequence can have the effect of encouraging them through complacency. We are reminded of the importance of dealing with this issue.

As parliamentarians I believe we could all agree that hate crimes in all of their forms cannot be tolerated in our country. They are a fundamental attack on our values and our principles and on each and every one of our citizens. A crime of hate against any Canadian citizen is a crime of hate against all Canadian citizens.

Our charter of rights and freedoms guarantees that everyone in Canada has a right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and our government is committed to protecting that right. The amendments proposed by this bill would strengthen the message that hate crime will not be tolerated in Canada.

I would now like to turn briefly to where the current law stands in Canada. Currently, there is a specific hate crime of mischief committed against property primarily used for religious worship which is found in subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code, mischief relating to religious property. It is a hate crime because the offence is only committed when such mischief is committed out of bias, prejudice, or hate based on religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin. The maximum punishment for this offence is 10 years' imprisonment. Subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code was enacted as part of the Anti-terrorism Act of 2001, which was also known at that time as Bill C-36.

Today, hate crime is restricted to property that is primarily used for religious worship, such as churches, mosques, and synagogues, and also includes cemeteries. However, during the committee hearings on Bill C-36, some witnesses, while approving of the creation of a specific hate crime of mischief, argued that the crime should be broader in scope, and if I may, I will cite some examples.

David Matas, lead counsel for B'nai Brith Canada, in his testimony at that time, argued that sex should be added to the list of hate motivations and also that the crime should be expanded to cover schools, organizational buildings, and cemeteries.

As well, on November 6, 2001, before the same committee, Mr. Ed Morgan, who was at that time chair of the Ontario region of the Canadian Jewish Congress, testified that all religious property should be protected by the hate crime mischief offence. He said:

Not just sanctuaries, not just synagogues or churches, but all religious structures, religious centres, religious schools, religious community centres, cemeteries—which are a particular target for hate crimes and desecration—ought to be covered as well.

He also argued at that time, and again I quote from his testimony:

...the grounds of group identification ought to be expanded to include, for example, hate crimes against groups identified by sexual orientation or gender. Gay-bashing is a hate crime, as would be an attack on a women's centre, every bit as much as on a religious community centre.

As a result, subsection 430(4.1) was amended by the House of Commons committee to add cemeteries to the list of properties primarily used for religious worship, but not the other kinds of properties that had been cited in the testimony, such as schools or community centres.

As well, a proposed amendment to add sex as a ground of hate motivation was rejected at that time, because it was seen as not relating logically back to the purpose of the hate crime mischief offence, which was to protect places of religious worship, unlike other hate motivations of race, colour, religion, or ethnic or national origin.

Bill C-305 proposes to add to this mischief offence additional kinds of property. These are buildings or structures used for educational purposes, for administrative, social, cultural, or sports activities or events, or as residences for seniors. As well, the list of hate-motivating criteria would be expanded by adding two new ones: sexual orientation and gender identity.

I wholeheartedly support the principles behind the bill that our criminal law should clearly denounce all hate-motivated mischief. However, it does bring forward some questions about the potentially broad scope of the proposed crimes in this section, which were previously discussed during the first hour of second reading by my colleague and the member for Charlottetown.

The private member's bill in its current form could potentially capture numerous unintended buildings and spaces such as sports arenas or coffee shops. These buildings or structures are currently protected by the general offence of mischief. Additionally, in order to ensure consistency with the existing hate speech provisions in the Criminal Code as well as those amendments proposed under Bill C-16, gender identity, which is currently before the Senate, we need to look more closely at this proposed legislation.

Therefore, the government will support Bill C-305 with a view to amendments to address the potential overbreadth and consistency with other provisions of the Criminal Code. We believe that Bill C-305 should receive second reading and be sent to committee for further study.

I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the member for Nepean for his commitment in bringing this matter forward. It is a timely piece of legislation. It is work that demands our closest attention.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2017 / 5:40 p.m.
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Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Flamborough—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, everybody has alluded to the tragic terrorist event that happened in Quebec City just days ago. I hope that you and all of my colleagues in the chamber will allow me this opportunity to mention the names of those people who are no longer with us: Khaled Belkacemi, Azzedine Soufiane, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane, Ibrahima Barry, and Mamadou Tanou Barry.

It is also important to note that five of these six men were fathers. According to the research, which I hope is accurate, and we have done all we can to find that out, 15 children have now been left without fathers. Therefore, it is poignant that we are debating this bill tonight.

Out the outset of my remarks on Bill C-305, I would like to remind the House of the words of Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”.

Bill C-305 seeks to amend the section of the Criminal Code that applies to hate crimes. As we debate the merits of this bill, we should bear in mind that the antidote for hate is not merely legislation. Indeed, it is love. However, as members of Parliament, we cannot legislate that citizens love one another, although as leaders we often have the opportunity to encourage our constituents to be tolerant, accepting, and compassionate. Furthermore, it is our responsibility to ensure that the legal framework is in place so that those who commit acts motivated by hate are held to proper account.

Last weekend we marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day as we remembered the six million Jews who died in what the Jewish people call the Shoah. I was reminded of my recent visit to Israel, where I toured Yad Vashem, the museum of the Holocaust. If we were to go there, we would enter a building that shows the timeline of anti-Semitism, how it grew, how it became socially acceptable, and how that paved the way to allow the Nazis to take over Germany and to come up with what they called the “final solution”.

As we look back at this time in our collective history, it is clear that any kind of racism, when allowed to brew, when allowed to fester, when allowed to grow, can turn into these kinds of atrocities that all of us despise and all of us would condemn. It is incumbent upon us to enact legislation that would help extinguish hate before it metastasizes into a more virulent form, which is what this bill seeks to address.

In the wake of the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, misinformed individuals firebombed the Hindu Samaj temple located in my riding, a temple meant for worship and prayer. This destructive act was meant to send a message of hate to Muslims, although it actually hurt the innocent Hindu community that gathers there. This is the type of act we should seek to avert before it happens by teaching and demonstrating tolerance while ensuring that measures in the Criminal Code are in place that could target the early signs of this type of behaviour.

Before I delve into the details of the bill before us, I would like to offer one further reflection.

I have been afforded the opportunity to serve as a member of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights for almost 11 years. This role has opened my eyes to what hate looks like unchecked when taken to its extreme. Hate has ravaged lives in the Middle East, South America, Africa, and virtually every corner of the globe. It has taken the form of genocide, sexual slavery, torture, kidnapping, and other horrific acts. In Canada, hate does not often take these extreme forms, but these tragic events abroad should also serve as a stark reminder that hate must not be allowed to take root. In fact, it must be given no oxygen whatsoever in the public square.

With these reflections in mind, I would like to thank the member for Nepean for bringing this bill forward. He has identified a gap in our statutes respecting hate crimes and has proposed Bill C-305 in response.

Presently, the Criminal Code provides for a penalty of up to 10 years for mischief related to religious property based on bias or prejudice against a certain race, religion, or some other identifiable group. In legal terms, “mischief” broadly refers to destroying, disfiguring, or damaging property or rendering property dangerous or of no use. In plain language, houses of worship are legally protected from damage or disfiguring brought about by hate.

In contrast, if a similar act of hate is committed against a university, a day care centre, a community centre, or a seniors' residence, charges would be laid under the general mischief section of the Criminal Code, but would only carry a sentence of up to two years.

Bill C-305 seeks to close this gap by extending the legal protection afforded to houses of worship to a wide variety of other property critical to our community lives.

It is my view that the Criminal Code should be consistent and tough as it relates to hate crimes. If a person inflicts damage upon a building to propagate a message of hate, such offenders should bear the weight of our criminal justice system, wherever it is.

For this reason, Bill C-305 is deserving of our support at second reading in order to send it to committee where it should receive due consideration, including a robust inquiry of witnesses and a thorough examination to ensure that any unintended consequences are avoided.

This work should also be done in a timely fashion in light of the recent events. The horrific attack at the mosque in Quebec City this past weekend is the latest example that hate still plagues our nation. On Monday, many members of the House gathered by the centennial flame in honour of the victims and to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community. These events should serve as a reminder to us as legislators that we ought to re-double our efforts to root out hate.

Additionally, at the end of 2016 in Ottawa, three synagogues, a mosque, and a church were spray-painted with racist graffiti.

I have every confidence that these actions and others like them are being met with the vigilance of our law enforcement officials. Meanwhile, we must ensure the law responds to these acts appropriately, no matter where they take place, be it a university campus, a high school, or seniors' home. This bill would give our police forces the tools they need to combat hate in all of its forms, everywhere.

Indeed, if we support Bill C-305, we will send the message that hate will not be tolerated in Canada. I look forward to supporting the bill when it comes up for a vote.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2017 / 5:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak on Bill C-305, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief), and even more pleased that I will be seconding the bill that my colleague, the member for Nepean, has put forward. I have had the pleasure of working with my colleague in the past, through parliamentary friendship groups and discussing a number of other issues. I have seconded the bill for many other reasons as well though. The bill is a strong response to hateful acts, like the tragic shooting in a Quebec City mosque this past weekend.

As a mother of three, my children were taught that Canada is a country of multiculturalism and acceptance. Multiculturalism and religious freedoms are core parts of Canadian identity, although there are those who have a different world view.

Multiculturalism and pluralism are still challenged today. There are those who believe they can scare people into falling backward into the past. I know that at this time some leadership candidates for the Conservative Party are promoting ideas that would only divide Canadians. I have long been proud that multiculturalism has stood in the face of that view. It has been part of our national fabric for decades.

Multiculturalism is why people move to Canada. It is a country of harmony where people can freely start new lives and raise families. It is at the core of what attracts people from other countries to want to build a life here in Canada. In my riding of Brampton South, my office often gets calls from people all over the world asking us how they can move to Canada.

While countries in other parts of the world try to shut down their borders to Syrian refugees, Canada has opened its borders and homes to let them in, and we worried about how fast we could take them in. Never forget that our inclusive, remarkable country today was only possible because of immigrants. Canada is the nation of multiculturalism. It is not just a country of tolerance, but a country of acceptance. Acceptance is important, where those of different faiths, cultures, and ethnicities can coexist with one another without any fear of discrimination.

The acts we have seen recently do not make a difference, despite how the offenders hope they might. These acts do not reflect the Canada that Canadians know and love. Some of the recent heinous acts we have seen in various communities have been committed by youth, under the age of 18. I am baffled to see that there are people, particularly youth, that are getting the message that it is okay to promote messages of hate and racism at synagogues, mosques, and schools. I do not want my children to live in a world where they cannot feel safe in their country because of their cultural and religious background.

I want to tell a quick story about one of my volunteers, who is also a constituent of my riding. Stephanie identifies herself as a Canadian of Chinese Vietnamese descent. As a child, she was a target of bullying and racism among her peers in day care and elementary school, simply because she was the only student who did not look like them. She hated going to school because she felt that she was not safe, at a place where she should feel safe. She told me it all started to turn around when their class had a day where they learned about each other's cultures and really grasped multiculturalism. Over time, most of her peers started to treat her better. There are always a few outliers who do not change.

Bill C-305 understands that we need to be conscious and respectful, and to defend our brothers and sisters of different ethnicities, religions, and various backgrounds.

People are not born racist or hateful. It is taught, and people can unlearn it as well. I come back to it because these recent acts in the region sadden me, hearing that messages of hate are being spread in a country where people should be free to be who they are away from intolerance, bias, and hatred. Hate speech and hate-motivated mischief is the line between our right to freedom of speech and unfiltered hatred.

This should not be tolerated in Canada. These acts have used the symbols of hateful regimes of the past to scare people. In Canada, such a great, welcoming, open, free country, our citizens should not walk in fear in our communities.

It causes fear in communities such as my own, and it means that parents have to explain to their children very difficult things about what is going on. Kids are told sometimes to be vigilant for people who might want to hurt them just because of their identity and how they pray. We have seen this hate before, and we must work together to combat it. This is why this bill would take the next step, in focusing on the next issue.

Bill C-305 expands the definition of mischief to also include other places as well, particularly buildings established by a religious community, which were previously not included. This would ensure the equal protections and equal benefit of the law without discrimination. These are the principles—particularly freedom of religion and protection of that freedom by the government—echoed within the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We need to firmly state the message that hate crimes such as ones in the vein and spirit of what we have recently seen in Quebec City will not be tolerated in Canada.

These institutions, gathering places, and places of worship that we would protect in this bill are the fundamental backbone places in each of our communities. In each of our ridings, we can point to places that make a real difference in bringing together our various communities: a park where communities gather, like Chinguacousy Park in my community; an educational institution like Sheridan College in my riding; or any number of landmarks we can point to.

We need to stand up for those groups who are being discriminated against and the culture of fear overall. In a world where many live in fear, Canada can be a beacon. This government stands up against that fear and that approach. This optimistic spirit drives our ministers and our Prime Minister to be more open. We cannot stand idly by. This is our opportunity to stand up and speak out. We are not making false choices like pitting safety and free speech against one another; we are making a choice where everyone wins.

I am glad to see support from around this House so far on this bill. I would like to commend all the groups who were involved in working on this bill. For years, the discussion around safe space has been happening, and this bill would make a real step forward on this. This bill has been supported by a number of important groups, and I want to take a moment to recognize them:

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs; the World Sikh Organization of Canada; Coalition for Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations; Canada India Foundation; Canadian Rabbinic Caucus; Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada; Baha'i Community Canada; Multicultural Council for Ontario Seniors; Ukrainian Canadian Congress; Ghanaian Canadian Association of Ontario; Presbyterian Church in Canada; Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at 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, B.C.; International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Vancouver; and Akali Singh Sikh Society, Vancouver.

This bill speaks up in favour of those whom some would want to silence. This bill is something I think this Parliament should be very proud to pass into law. Again, I want to commend the author of this bill on his work to advance this discussion. Together, we can make a real difference for Canadians by voting for this. I encourage all my colleagues to think of those places in their community that they want to protect when they cast their ballot on Bill C-305. I know I will when I stand and vote yea on this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 2nd, 2017 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise once again to speak to Bill C-305. I do so with a very heavy heart in light of the recent horrific attack at a mosque in Quebec City. It pains me to see such a hate-motivated act taken against our fellow Canadians. Hate such as this has absolutely no place in Canada. Bill C-305 is one of the small steps we can take to eliminate hate-motivated crimes in Canada.

I would like to thank my colleagues from all parties for their interest and contribution to this debate.

I would like to 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 stated:

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.

Bill C-305 would recognize that hate motivated by bias based on gender identity and sexual orientation would carry the same weight as crimes committed against religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin. The bill would expand it to include schools, day care centres, colleges or universities, community centres, seniors' residences, and cultural centres. The impact felt by victims of hate crimes cannot be limited to just 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 crime. Whether it is places of worship or other property, the negative impact of hate crimes on the community remains the same. Also, under this criminal subsection, if a person is found guilty of an offence, there are stiff prison terms. While I agree education is the best long-term solution, I also believe a strong law and punishment act as major deterrents.

At this point, I would like to quote Dr. Martin Luther King on the interaction between positive law, morality, and culture. He stated:

It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behaviour 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 we face.

It is very important that we have a strong and robust law for hate crimes. Again, I agree education is important, but I am equally confident that good law is also required.

It is heartening to note the near-unanimous support I have received from all sections of society. I would like to recognize and thank the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs for its ongoing support and its efforts to mobilize other stakeholders.

Bill C-305 takes a strong step to making our neighbourhoods and communities safer places to live. Think of the strong message we would be sending to all Canadians: that not select people but all people of Canada can feel safer knowing that Parliament has taken concrete and strong measures to protect them. I ask my fellow members support this important bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 22nd, 2016 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

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—

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 22nd, 2016 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in strong support of Bill C-305. At the outset, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Nepean for his hard work in bringing forward this important and much-needed legislation.

Bill C-305 seeks to amend section 430 of the Criminal Code. Section 430 of the Criminal Code makes it a criminal offence for an individual to commit an act of mischief motivated by hate targeted at a group and carried out on religious property, whether that property be a church, synagogue, temple, or cemetery. Bill C-305 seeks to expand section 430 of the Criminal Code to include other types of property, whether it be a school or other educational facility, a cultural or community facility, a seniors facility, or other facility.

Regretfully, Bill C-305 could not be more timely. Recently, we have seen a spike in anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim racist vandalism in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and other centres throughout Canada. Just last week, as the hon. member for Nepean alluded to, we saw peaceful Jews, Muslims, and black Christians targeted by a criminal with a string of hateful vandalism.

Bill C-305 seeks to close a void in the Criminal Code that presently exists under section 430. The fact is that if an individual commits an act of mischief motivated by hate toward a particular group and carried out on a religious property such as a house of worship, that individual would be subject to being charged, prosecuted, and convicted under section 430 of the Criminal Code. If convicted, that individual would be subject to a penalty of imprisonment for up to 10 years. By contrast, if the same individual committed the same act of mischief motivated by the same hate and targeted at the same group, but carried it out not on religious property but at a school, a recreational facility, or a seniors facility, that person would not be able to be charged under section 430 of the Criminal Code and would not be subject to a penalty of imprisonment for up to 10 years. Most likely, that individual would be subject to prosecution under the general mischief provisions of the Criminal Code where the maximum penalty is up to two years.

Acts of mischief motivated by hate toward a particular group, whether it be on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, and so on, are not general acts of mischief. They are much worse. They are acts of hate. They are acts of hate designed to intimidate and terrorize a particular community. It is precisely for that reason that under section 430 of the Criminal Code, an individual who commits an act of mischief motivated by hate targeted at a group on religious property is subject to imprisonment for up to 10 years, not two years.

Bill C-305 would close the loophole that presently exists in the Criminal Code by ensuring that anyone who commits an act of mischief motivated by hate toward a particular group would be subject to section 430 of the Criminal Code and subject to a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment whether they carry out that act of mischief at a religious facility, a school, a community centre, or other facility.

We know that, so often, acts of mischief motivated by hate are carried out in places other than strictly religious institutions or other religious property. Indeed, when we look at the very sad events last week in Ottawa, we saw that, yes, a church and two synagogues were targeted, but also the Ottawa Muslim Association as well as a Jewish teaching school. This past July, a Jewish community centre outside of Montreal had graffiti spray-painted on its doors. In 2004, the United Talmud Torah School in Montreal was firebombed. There are hundreds of other examples in the past number of years.

We, as Canadians, take pride in our collective diversity. The values of tolerance and inclusivity are Canadian values, but the fact remains that crimes motivated by hate continue to occur in Canada. Sadly, they occur regularly. Indeed, according to Statistics Canada, in 2014 nearly 1,300 hate crimes were reported. Those were just the reported hate crimes. We know from Statistics Canada that the vast majority of hate crimes are not reported. Of the hate crimes that have been reported, nearly 60% involved mischief.

Based on those very troubling statistics, it is evident that we have a lot of work to do collectively as Canadians to combat the scourge of hate. As we undertake that work, we must not be complacent and turn a blind eye, but must be vigilant and proactive, and must call out hate when we see it, by shining the light on the darkness of hate.

As parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to ensure that individuals who perpetrate crimes motivated by hate are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Bill C-305 would be a step in that direction. Let us support Bill C-305 and make sure that this legislation is passed as soon as possible.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 22nd, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
See context

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise in support of Bill C-305, introduced by the member for Nepean.

The bill is both timely and important in our community. The member for Nepean read a long, very impressive list of groups that are supporting the bill. That tells us a lot about the significance of promotion of hatred in North America at this time.

The bill would do two basic things. One is to expand the number of places that are defined as protected under law against hate-motivated damage, basically from religious property to community institutions like day cares, schools, universities, town halls, senior centres, and sports arenas. This is admirable, because we know that those who want to promote hatred do not pick on churches alone. Although they quite often do pick on churches, we have all seen these messages scrawled elsewhere in our communities. This is the essence of why this is an important bill.

The second part is important to me, as one of the six out gay members of Parliament. It tends to expand the grounds for protection of groups to include sexual orientation and gender identity. That is laudable. We have made progress over the years in extending protections to people of my community, but it has always been done in a piecemeal fashion, kind of step by step. I accept that this is another step in that progress.

Some people are surprised to know that sexual orientation was not originally included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Of course, I am old enough to have been around at that time. In fact, I was actually here in Ottawa at that time, and I was not a supporter of the Charter of Rights because it did not include my rights. That was corrected through decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada.

In 1996, Parliament, and again, a Liberal government, brought forward a government bill to add sexual orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act. In 2004, the section we are really dealing with in this bill was brought forward by Svend Robinson, a New Democrat member of Parliament, and the first out gay member of Parliament. His private member's bill succeeded in working its way through Parliament to add sexual orientation to the hate crime section of the Criminal Code.

Of course, I am very proud that Bill C-16 has now passed in the House of Commons. It would extend that same protection against hate crimes to those who are gender diverse, non-gender binary, or those who are called transgender. Bill C-16 would also add this to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

When this bill gets to committee we will be asking for one small amendment, and that is to make its wording consistent with Bill C-16. That will take a very small amendment, but I am confident that the member for Nepean had no intention of narrowing the bill. I hope to have a good discussion with him about the possibility of that. I regard it as a technical amendment that really meets the objectives of what he laid out in the bill.

When it comes to hate crimes, we know the groups that are most often subjected to them because of the statistics that are kept. However, I would point out in the chamber, as I did in debate on my private member's bill in the last Parliament, and as I did on Bill C-16, that we do not keep good statistics on hate crimes that are committed on the basis of gender identity or gender expression, because these are not explicitly embedded in the law. They are lumped together usually, when they are considered at all, with sexual orientation, which is quite a different matter than gender identity and gender expression. Again, I hope we can make the bill more consistent.

We need a larger debate about hate crimes in this Parliament at some point. I am not faulting the bill. It is not the purpose of the bill, but I would look forward to a discussion, because unfortunately, in the last Parliament, in June of 2013, we passed a bill that removed section 13 from the Canadian Human Rights Act, which would have allowed the Canadian Human Rights Commission to do more proactive work against hate crimes in our society.

The very fact that this is coming forward as a private member's bill gives me some confidence that we can probably find a consensus in this Parliament to actually restore the power to the Canadian Human Rights Commission to do that preventative work that would prevent the kinds of crimes that Bill C-305 is talking about.

I look forward to finding a forum where we could have that broader discussion among MPs.

I would hope that the government might bring forward such a bill as part of its agenda. Again I have to question why this important bill is a private member's bill and not part of the government's agenda. In response to my question, the member for Nepean said he hoped to have the support of his frontbench and the Minister of Justice for this legislation. That is a bit of a waiver for me in terms of my confidence. I hope that we can and will see the government, particularly the frontbench, support the bill and not kill a private member's bill as it has done to other Liberal backbenchers.

When it comes to hate crimes, the crimes that the bill focuses on are the most common. I do have to note once again that the groups most likely to be subject to violent hate crimes are the LGBTQ community and, in particular, transgender Canadians, and within that group, first nations or two-spirited people.

I am pleased that on Friday and Saturday in my riding, the Victoria Native Friendship Centre is putting on a workshop for two-spirited British Columbia youth from across the province to help them build confidence in themselves and to confront the prejudice and the violence they often face. I intend to be at that conference on Friday and to bring news, I hope, that we have support for adding gender identity and gender expression to help protect two-spirited first nation youth in this country against these kinds of hate crimes.

Who is in favour of this legislation? I guess my question should be, who in Canada would not be in favour of this legislation? Quite often because of the immense overflow of American culture and American politics into Canadian society, we get caught up in the negativity that goes on there, particularly the negativity of the presidential campaign, and the increased frequency of hate crimes reported throughout the United States as a result of the unfortunate encouragement of prejudice and hate by some very prominent citizens, including the current president-elect of the United States, whose name I always avoid saying.

As previous speakers have done, I am not going to review some of the incidents that have taken place. We all know about them. It is a bit like my own personal habit of not mentioning the perpetrators of crime, but instead talk about the victims and how they recover from that crime. It is important that we recognize the reality, and I thank the member for Nepean and the member from Edmonton for bringing that to our attention again.

I know my time is drawing short, but let me go back to what I said at the beginning of my remarks. I extend my thanks to the member for Nepean for bringing this forward. I encourage him to talk to the frontbench of his party seriously to make sure that those members will support this legislation. We have found some support, I hope broad support, within the Conservative caucus. The member will find universal support in the NDP caucus for his bill. We will ask for what I regard as a technical amendment to broaden the legislation a bit to make it consistent with Bill C-16. We look forward to this legislation's passing through the House expeditiously.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 22nd, 2016 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

Charlottetown P.E.I.

Liberal

Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to speak about private member's bill, Bill C-305, an act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief).

Bill C-305 seeks to broaden the provision of the Criminal Code on mischief that constitutes a hate crime in relation to buildings or structures that are primarily used for religious worship by adding other types of buildings or structures.

To help situate the Bill C-305 within the criminal justice system, I intend to do three things in my remarks. First, I will provide an outline of how the current criminal law addresses cases of mischief that are hate motivated. Second, I will provide recent statistics of mischief that is hate motivated. Third, I will briefly outline how Bill C-305 proposes to expand the existing hate crime of mischief committed against property primarily used for religious worship, including some concerns with this approach.

First, let me address what the Criminal Code currently does to prevent hate mischief including hate-motivated mischief. Section 430 of the Criminal Code includes a general offence of mischief, which carries penalties ranging from up to two years imprisonment, where the value of the property that has been vandalized does not exceed $5,000 in value; up to 10 years imprisonment, where the value of the property that has been vandalized exceeds $5,000; and up to life imprisonment, where the mischief causes actual danger to life.

The variations in punishment for this offence depend on the value of the property that has been vandalized, not on the cost of the damage done to the property. For example, minor damage of a few hundred dollars done to a property that exceeds $5,000 in value, such as a house, could result in a maximum punishment of 10 years imprisonment, not a maximum punishment of two years imprisonment.

For the general offence of mischief, like for all criminal acts, there is a sentencing provision for hate crimes. In fact, subparagraph 718.2(a)(i) of the Criminal Code indicates that, during sentencing, the courts must take into account any aggravating circumstances, including whether the offence was motivated by prejudice or hate based on a non-exhaustive list of motives, such as race, colour, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.

There is also a specific hate crime of mischief relating to religious property. Subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code specifically prohibits mischief directed against a building or a structure that is primarily used for religious worship—such as a church, mosque, or synagogue—an object associated with religious worship, or a cemetery. For a person to be convicted of this offence, the mischief must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have been motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate based on religion, race, colour, or national or ethnic origin. The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment on indictment. Enacted in late 2001 by the Anti-terrorism Act, this offence was designed to prevent the chilling effect that some mischief could have on the worshippers of a particular religion.

Now let me move on to what we know about the incidence of hate-motivated crime in Canada and, in particular, hate-motivated mischief. The uniform crime reporting survey conducted by Statistics Canada in collaboration with the policing community collects police-reported information on hate crimes. This includes offences motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, and any other similar factor.

It also includes information about hate crimes categorized by the term “most serious violation”, which includes the categories of mischief and mischief to religious properties motivated by hate. The statistics for mischief for the last two years of police-reported information on hate crimes cover the years 2013 and 2014. Statistics Canada reported that for 2013 there were 1,167 incidents of police-reported hate crime in Canada.

Now let me provide some information with respect to vandalism committed because of hatred of a person's religion.

According to the B'nai Brith of Canada's annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents 2015, for the five-year period from 2011 to 2015, antisemitic vandalism declined to its lowest point in 15 years, with 136 incidents in 2015, compared, for example, to 362 in 2011 and 238 in 2014. However, it added:

Frequent and ongoing threats against the Jewish community result in increased security costs for synagogues, Jewish schools and community organizations, in order to maintain the safety of those who utilize such facilities. These increased security costs are unfortunately justified, with hundreds of incidents every year taking place at Jewish institutions.

As well, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, which tracks hate crimes committed against Muslims, has noted on its website that in 2015, of the 59 hate crime incidents reported, 18 involved vandalism against Muslims.

Bill C-305 proposes to expand subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code, mischief relating to religious property, to include hate-motivated mischief directed at a building or structure that is primarily used as an educational institution; for administrative, social, cultural, or sports activities or events; or as a residence for seniors.

Bill C-305 also proposes that the grounds of hate motivation found in subsection 430(4.1), currently restricted to acting out of bias, prejudice, or hate based on religion, race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, should be expanded to include the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation. As a result, if Bill C-305 is enacted, subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code would no longer have, as its underlying rationale, preventing a chilling effect on worshippers of a particular religion.

The intent of Bill C-305 is consistent with our government's commitment to ensuring equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, in keeping with the charter. It is also consistent with a clear message that hate crimes will not be tolerated in Canada.

This rationale is well explained by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, or CIJA. This organization has highlighted the recent spike in anti-Semitic, racist, and anti-Muslim vandalism that was reported in Ottawa, including at three synagogues and other religious institutions in our nation's capital.

CIJA argues that the current law is deficient, since it only designates as a hate crime mischief committed against a religious site such as a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple. In its view, this designation should be broadened. To quote from its website:

Hate-fuelled criminals do not distinguish between synagogues, community centres and schools. Neither should the law.

I believe that this principle is a worthy one, but I have questions about the potentially broad scope of the proposed crime. For example, would it include structures such as sports arenas, like the Rogers Centre in Toronto? Would it apply to a coffee shop used regularly by a university Spanish club or to an office building occupied partly by government? As it is currently worded, it appears that the bill could potentially capture numerous unintended buildings and spaces. As a result, the offence could become over-broad and potentially vague.

Potential impacts of the bill on other parts of the Criminal Code must also be considered. Would it have a deleterious effect on paragraph 718.2(a)(i) of the code, the hate-crime sentencing provision, since that sentencing provision would no longer be used in a large number of mischief cases?

Lastly, I am concerned about maintaining the underlying rationale of subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code, which is to protect freedom of religion. In its current form, the bill appears to go quite far beyond that original intent.

Cabinet will therefore support Bill C-305, with amendments to address over-breadth and consistency with other provisions of the Criminal Code, including those referred to by my colleague from the New Democratic Party.

As noted, this bill aligns with our government's commitment to charter values, as well as being a clear message that hate crimes will not be tolerated in Canada. For these and other reasons, I believe that Bill C-305 is deserving of further discussion and examination at a committee of the House.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 22nd, 2016 / 6:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation, AB

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to rise today to contribute to this important debate on Bill C-305, which aims to amend the section in the Criminal Code dealing with mischief. Currently, there are four specific offences listed as hate propaganda offences or hate crimes in the Criminal Code of Canada. There is advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, willful promotion of hatred, and fourth is mischief motivated by hate in relation to religious property.

The proposal before us today intends to strengthen the penalties and the convictions for hate crimes that target property. Damage to property is the most common form of hate crime. These crimes can range from graffiti to the complete destruction of a building through fire. Sadly, we know that the main targets for this type of crime are schools, places of worship, community and cultural centres, seniors homes, and even memorials. Places of worship, as I mentioned earlier, are already covered by existing legislation, but we need to close the gap and address the realities of hate crime. This is why the bill proposes to include, along with religious property, day cares, schools, community centres, seniors residences, and playgrounds.

The statistics are startling. One half of police-reported hate crimes are based on race or ethnicity. Another quarter are based on religion. Sixteen per cent are based on people's sexual orientation. Sixty per cent of these hate crimes are non-violent mischief targeted at property. This proposed bill would help police and the courts by giving them a stronger tool to crack down on this type of criminal activity in our communities.

I am sure I speak for all members of the House when I say that there is no place in Canada for hate. We are a peaceful and compassionate society as a whole, but that can never be taken for granted. We have a societal duty every day to defend the country and the way of life we have taken so long to build and defend. At the same time, we have to recognize that we are not perfect as a society. Things that were tolerated in the past are no longer tolerated as we have become more enlightened. As little as a generation ago, it was common to have the LGBTQ community targeted. As a society, we have taken a stand to say this is not what we want in Canada. We now have an intolerance for those who target people based on whom they love. We have an intolerance for those who target our indigenous communities, but we can still do more.

Another part of this proposed legislation seeks to broaden the definition of mischief as it relates to those acts motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Sadly, a sizable portion of the population still hates others simply because of the colour of their skin, the nature of their worship, or the gender of the person whom they love.

I am not naive. I know that passing legislation such as this would not fix the backward thinking and prejudices of folks like them. However, it would allow us to deal with bad apples within our community. Hateful actions hurt more than just those they target. They affect the entire community. They divide communities. They foster mistrust among neighbours and make us all feel a little less safe and less secure. These criminals are misguided. They think that their criminal actions will only hurt those whom they hate. However, they often make victims of those they purport to protect in the community.

I will digress for a moment to make a general comment about hate. The recent American election seems to have raised the issue of hate speech again. I will not go on about this, but I will say that hate is not limited to any one political stripe or any one nation. I have seen it from both ends and in the middle. As a society, we can do better here in Canada. Hate for fellow citizens is alive and well in all ridings, including my own.

I receive thousands of responses from constituents on a regular basis, as we all do in this House. I am saddened by the very small but consistent number of hateful responses I receive.

These comments are occasionally targeted at me, but usually at others in our community. These venomous and toxic comments are targeted at others, based on their skin, their god, their sexual orientation, their political affiliation, or anything that makes them different from the writer. These spreaders of hate know their comments are not welcome in the community, though. They never provide their names. They hide, cowardly, in their anonymity.

I simply mention this because folks ought to know that their other opinions rarely count for anything in my books, when accompanied by their hateful comments. If they have something constructive and valuable to say, it is best said intelligently, without all the hate.

This is not the first time that this legislation has come before the House. I applaud those who tried to bring these issues forward in the past and did not give up.

Societal change does not happen overnight. Change is a difficult concept for some and a dream for others. I do not doubt for a second that every single person here has been the target of hate, at some point. When members were the target of hate, it resulted in a lasting memory. It left a deep emotional scar, I am sure. It made them mad. People need to take these memories and the emotions they created and channel that energy into fighting hate in all its forms.

This legislation could be a valuable tool to our law enforcement in dealing with hate crimes in our communities. It would make it easier to get convictions and deal with this problem.

Before I close, I want to encourage all Canadians to challenge hate at the source. If we have friends, family members, or co-workers who engage in this type of thing, we should take a moment to let them know that they do not speak for us.

People may be amazed to find that many of these spreaders of hate are incredibly insecure and when they find out that they are alone in their thinking, it can provoke perhaps a moment of personal reflection and perhaps even change. Our silence in situations like this is taken by them as tacit approval of their behaviour. Our silence is seen as agreement with their thinking. We should not let them speak for us.

Recently, we commemorated Remembrance Day.

Tens of thousands of Canadians fought hate. They gave their lives to put down those who sought to reshape human existence through hate. They gave their future so that we could have one. There could be no greater dishonour to their memory and their sacrifices than for us to give up on the fight against hate.

Yes, we have the freedom to speak our mind in Canada, but that freedom was found in the fight against hate. Let us not forget that.

I am reminded, in cases like this, of a certain saying, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”.

I and many others in this House are supporting this proposed legislation because we want to be part of the solution when it comes to fighting hate in our communities.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 22nd, 2016 / 6:25 p.m.
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Liberal

David Graham Liberal Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, Canada is a nation that is proud of its multiculturalism. We thrive when we all grow together. As the Prime Minister has always said, we are strong, not in spite of our differences, but because of them.

However, Canada is not immune to the issue of hate crimes. It is an issue that affects us from coast to coast to coast. As the country continues to become more diverse, hate crimes against individuals and groups are an ongoing issue.

The most common form of hate crime is that of mischief, damage to property, most often in a form of vandalism. These cowardly acts, targeted at people and groups in our neighbourhoods, are hurtful, not only to their intended targets, but to our communities as a whole.

It is for this reason that the member for Nepean proposed Bill C-305. This bill seeks to amend section 430 (4.1) of the Criminal Code of Canada that to date only includes places of worship such as churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques as protected places against hate crimes.

In its current form, Bill C-305 seeks to expand this to include schools, day care centres, colleges or universities, community centres, and playgrounds.

The LGBTQ community is one of the most targeted groups when it comes to hate crimes. While Parliament has previously passed legislation to protect these groups, section 430 (4.1) currently does not recognize hate-based mischief against one's sexual orientation or gender identity. The current law only recognizes bias, prejudice, or hate based on religion, race, colour, or national or ethnic origin.

Bill C-305 seeks to include these two groups. It is the sponsor's hope that with the passage of Bill C-305, our neighbourhoods will be a safer place for the LGBTQ community.

I believe the bill is very important for making progress in fighting hatred and hate crimes, and I really congratulate the member for Nepean for his hard work on this, for bringing this forward. When we look at the results of the bill, we see a wide number of stakeholders have come out in support of this. We have heard from the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the World Sikh Organization, the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, the Canada-Indian Foundation, the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus, and so on and so forth. This is a wide breadth of support for a very important bill to address hate.

Where I grew up in rural Quebec, there used to be signs on places that said, “No dogs, no Jews”. Hatred is a real thing. It is a thing that has to be fought. It has to be fought against and protected from. I think this is a really nice step and I really encourage the member for Nepean to go forward with this, and I am looking forward to the second hour of debate.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

September 27th, 2016 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-305, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mischief).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce my private member's bill, which seeks to amend subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Hatred based on race, colour, religion, ethnic origin, gender identity, and sexual orientation are some of the worse things in our democratic society. As it stands, this subsection, which deals with mischief motivated by hate, is currently limited to race, colour, religion, and ethnic origin. I would expand this to include gender identity and sexual orientation.

Also, currently this subsection limits properties to places of worship, such as churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. I would expand this to include schools, daycare centres, sports arenas, seniors residences, colleges, universities, and community centres.

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