Thank you, Madam Chair.
Good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before this committee as part of its study of motion 103.
My name is Gilles Michaud. I'm the deputy commissioner of federal policing for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The RCMP has a long-standing commitment and adherence to bias-free policing. In practice, this means that in the performance of their duties RCMP employees treat all individuals equally in accordance with the law and without abusing their authority, regardless of an individual's race, nationality, ethnic origin, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age, mental or physical disability, citizenship, family status, socio-economic status, or a conviction for which a pardon has been granted.
Creating respect and valuing diversity is essential for the RCMP, as it is for any law enforcement agency. The RCMP places a high priority on building and developing effective partnerships with communities and other law enforcement agencies to build trust. These relationships are all the more important given that there remain individuals in the country who do not share our values of inclusion and diversity and hold views that are rooted in bigotry and prejudice. Holding and/or espousing these views is not of itself illegal; however, when such beliefs lead to or inspire violence, law enforcement must and does act.
The process by which individuals become convinced that violence against others is a legitimate way to advance their cause is known as “radicalization to violence”. In Canada, this most often manifests as acts of violence against some type of identifiable group, referred to as hate crime. The Criminal Code contains specific offences related to hate: sections 318, 319, and 430. Common offences include, but are not limited to, intimidation, harassment, mischief, and uttering threats against persons or property. There are no Criminal Code provisions for violent hate crimes, just sentencing requirements.
Section 718.2 of the code encourages judges to treat violent offences such as murder as hate crimes if there is evidence that the act was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor. Therefore, some type of primary activity must be investigated for hate sentencing requirements to be considered.
Given the nature of these offences, the responsibility for these investigations falls to the police force of jurisdiction in communities across the country. As you know, the RCMP acts as the provincial or territorial police of jurisdiction in eight provinces, three territories, and over 150 municipalities through our contract and aboriginal policing services. Contract policing is provided through police services agreements, which are negotiated between the federal government and the provinces, territories, and municipalities.
As the police of jurisdiction, the RCMP leads hate crime investigations. The RCMP also provides training and education. For instance, the RCMP national youth services program offers a variety of education and awareness resources on topics relating to ideological violence, as posted on the website of the Centre for Youth Crime Prevention. Resources are designed for police officers, parents, and persons working with youth to engage and empower them to make positive decisions.
Education programs such as this are essential in combatting hate crimes, as they encourage victims to report incidents so law enforcement can initiate investigations. Reporting of hate crimes is essential in order for the RCMP and all law enforcement agencies to respond to and disrupt acts of ideological violence, as well as to understand the magnitude of the problem in our communities across the country.
In areas where the RCMP is the police of jurisdiction, reported hate crimes went up from 160 in 2014 to 206 in 2015, an increase of 46 incidents. The majority of the cases reported appear to be motivated by race, ethnicity, or religion.
The priorities of the RCMP’s federal policing program include some of the more sophisticated and complicated types of criminal activity in Canada relating to serious and organized crime, cybercrime, national security and protective policing.
Given the role of the police force of jurisdiction and the need to act within the parameters set out in the Criminal Code, federal policing’s role in investigating ideological violence is largely limited to instances where an individual or group moves toward acts of terrorism as defined in section 83.01 of the Criminal Code.
Our investigations are guided by the definition of terrorism as outlined in section 83.01 of the Criminal Code. The definition is important to note. Section 83.01 of the Criminal Code defines terrorism as an act committed “in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause” with the intention of “intimidating the public, or a segment of the public with regard to its security, including its economic security.”
Therefore, for federal policing personnel to pursue a terrorism investigation, there must be an indication of an ideological basis and motivation for the act, as well as potential intent.