Reading Hate
Hate Crime Research and Scholarship in Canada

Canadian Hate Crime Literature

Canadian Hate Crime Literature

Government Reports

Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Canadian Heritage Department of Justice City of Toronto

Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics

Janhevich, D. E., Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, & Statistics Canada. (2001). Hate crime study: An overview of issues and data sources. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

A discussion of the need to understand the experiences of people of various backgrounds being crucial to policy making in Canada begins this article.  It speaks to the need for more data and further study in the area.  The purpose of this article is to create a better understanding of hate and the viability of collecting hate crime statistics from police departments in Canada.  This is done through a review on literature pertaining to hate crime ensuring that hate crimes’ important issues are better understood.   The literature includes a history of hate crime in Canada, definitional issues, and available research and data.  Next, the benefits and disadvantages of collecting hate crime statistics in Canada, as well as data collection techniques in Canada and other countries around the world are compared.  The third section of the article focuses on police policies and procedures.  It was found that the problem was not lack of interest but the uncertainty of the best way to collect hate crime data.  The article’s final section focuses on results from the 1999 General Social Survey which, for the first time, included measures to assess the level of hate crime in Canada.  There continues to be a need for data on the nature and extent of hate crime in Canada to better help inform policy makers and create better legislation on hate crime in the country.   

Silver, W., Minorean, K., & Taylor-Butts, A. (2004). Hate crime in Canada. Ottawa: Juristat: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

The Canadian Centre of Justice Statistics published this comprehensive review of hate crime in Canada in order to develop an understanding of hate crime and to address the feasibility of collecting national police-reported statistics. The document is very descriptive, detailing the various types of hate crimes, grounds for hateful acts, methods of gathering hate crime statistics, and statistical profiles of the number of hate crimes committed, the type of offence, and the characteristics of the victim and offender. The summary is a compilation of the results from the 1999 General Social Survey which focused on victimization, the 2002 Ethnic Diversity Survey, the 2001 Census which was used to establish demographics, and the 2001/2002 Hate Crime Pilot Survey. The pilot survey was based on data collected from twelve major police forces in Canada and was an attempt to determine the viability of collecting national police statistics. This survey supplemented the data collected by the aforementioned self-report surveys and was used to compare findings with regards to hate crime. Each survey came to very similar conclusions prompting Statistics Canada to continue to collect victim reported data through the 2004 GSS and from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey in order to contribute to a more complete understanding of hate crime in Canada.

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Candian Heritage

Canadian Heritage. (1998). Hate and bias activity in Canada. Canada: Department of Canadian Heritage.

This brief article attempts to assess the state of hate crime and bias activity in Canada in 1998. It points to the absence of a single definition of hate crime in Canada as well as inconsistent statistical gathering methods as the source of the uncertainty surrounding the number of hate crimes committed. Despite this, several prominent scholars in the area have estimated this number and believe that close to 60, 000 hate-motivated crimes are committed each year in Canada. Furthermore, the report indicates that several police units and community organizations collect statistics which suggest that hate crime is on the rise. These statistics also indicate that most assaults are random and unprovoked, committed by young males alone or in small groups. The article also addresses hate on the internet, identifying it as a simple and inexpensive medium to dispel hate propaganda to a large audience. The article gives no recommendations to address these issues, but simply highlights their existence. 

Canadian Heritage. (2005). Canada’s action plan against racism: A Canada for all. Canada: Department of Canadian Heritage.

This document published by the Department of Canadian Heritage, is an overview of a recently devised plan at the federal level to combat racism and hate-motivated crimes. The plan articulates Canada’s commitment to eradicate racism and discrimination through national and international legal frameworks as well as partnerships among various agencies, organizations, and citizens. Although the document recognizes the strides Canada has already made on this front, it acknowledges that there is still much to achieve, citing recent statistics and opinion polls that suggest many visible minorities remain disadvantaged. Canada’s action plan includes a number of guiding principles and seeks to build partnerships with civil society, employers and associations, and the police. A Canada For All also expresses the federal government’s commitment to reduce hate crime by providing further cultural sensitivity training to police officers and conducting in-depth research on hate-motivated crimes to reduce the number of repeat offenders. The government also hopes this research will shed light on strategies to address victims’ needs. Furthermore, the Canadian government is working towards reducing the distribution of hate propaganda on the internet, which presents an ongoing problem. For accountability purposes, the plan also describes ongoing evaluations that will take place and reports which will follow.

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Department of Justice

Gilmour, G. A. (1994). Hate-Motivated Violence. Ottawa: Department of Justice Canada, and Development Directorate, Policy, Programs and Research Sector.

Representing the Department of Justice, Glenn Gilmour reviews his study, “Hate-Motivated Violence” which examined how Canada’s Criminal Code should address racially motivated violence. Gilmour describes related literature including legal periodicals, government and organizations’ reports, newspapers, and magazines. He also briefly reviews current and historical Canadian data as well as Canadian criminal law relevant to hate-motivated violence. Gilmour continues by examining the criminal laws of the United States, England, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, and Sweden to establish possible directions for reform in Canada. The document concludes with a list of fifteen options for reform to Canadian criminal law. Many of the recommendations fall into categories such as increased penalties for hate-motivated crimes or the creation of specific hate-motivated crimes. Others suggest altering the definitions of some crimes to include those motivated by hate. There are a number of additional recommendations which cannot be categorized but which culminate to offer a wide range of options for Canada’s Criminal Code. Furthermore, each of the fifteen recommendations is accompanied by a list of advantages and any foreseen disadvantages in order to weigh the options against one another

Nelson, J. & Kiefl, G. (1995). Technical Report: Survey of hate-motivated activity. (Cat. No. TRI1995-4e).  Department of Justice Canada.

This report summarizes the findings of a survey on hate-motivated activity in Canada conducted by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Multicultural and Race-Relations in the Justice System.  The survey was sent to human rights commissions, justice departments, police and relevant federal agencies, from which fifty-six responses were received. Respondents were asked about a variety of issues related to hate-motivated activity in their respective areas, including whether it was a problem; the types of hate activity that occurred; the most common targets of hate activity; the types of hate activity experienced by targeted groups; and the seriousness of and trends in hate crime activity. Key findings of the study suggest that hate-motivated activity is a problem across Canada. According to respondents, the primary targets of hate activity are people of colour, Jewish people, and homosexuals.  A wide variety of hate activities were identified, such as assaults, homicide, vandalism, written and electronic propaganda and the formation of organized hate groups. A relationship was also identified between the type of hate activity and the targeted group, for example, with assaults directed more towards homosexuals and vandalism directed towards religious institutions. Among respondents, there was no consensus regarding the seriousness of the problem; however, of those reporting a trend in hate-motivated activity, most stated that hate acts were increasing. The report concludes by drawing attention on the need for more data on the nature and extent of hate-motivated activity.
                 Rosen presents the arguments for and against the amendment of hate crime legislation in this report published by the Parliamentary Research Branch. Hate propaganda legislation was enacted as part of the Criminal Code in 1970 as a response to wide-spread hate accompanied by an influx of white supremacist groups and political parties. The document describes the current laws which are in place to prosecute cases of hate propaganda, pointing out their strengths and weaknesses of the legislation and the defences available to those charged with an offence. The proposals for reform stem from the recommendations of The Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution, The Cohen Committee, the 1982 Vancouver Symposium on Race Relations and the Law, the Special House of Commons Committee, and the Government of Canada in its response to Equality Now! The report also provides a numbered list of arguments for and against hate propaganda legislation and offers a chronologic timeline of legislation related to it.

Roberts, J. V., & Canada. Department of Justice. Research and Statistics Directorate. (1995). Disproportionate harm: Hate crime in Canada : An analysis of recent statistics. Ottawa: Department of Justice Canada, Research, Statistics and Evaluation Directorate.

Julian V. Roberts discusses the need for systematic research on hate crime.  Focusing on hate or bias motivated crimes Roberts uses three sources to summarize his data; police services across Canada, B’nai Brith of Canada, and two groups representing the gay and lesbian communities from Toronto and Montreal.  Roberts found many methodological issues including definitional issues regarding the research of hate crime.  To better explain the differences in definitions there are a number of examples explaining the way other countries as well as different provinces in Canada define hate crimes.  Another issue discussed is the classification issues by police officers.  They must recognize and be knowledgeable in how to properly report when a hate crime has occurred.  Another methodological issue discussed was the under reporting of hate crime.  It is a hidden crime and represents a portion of the dark figure of crime.  Roberts goes onto describe the findings of his study discussing hate crime and the collection of data comparing the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada as well as major cities throughout Canada.  Roberts offers many options to improve the collection of hate crime in Canada one being to create a national approach to hate crime.  Advantages being that it would be consistent throughout the country and disadvantages being the lack of resources needed to implement this.  Other suggestions include new criminal offences to better reflect the nature of hate crimes, and an increase in the visibility of criminal justice systems response to hate crime.  One way to do this is through the news media.  Canadians who are not members of communities that are most affected by hate crimes may have a difficulty in understanding its impact on the individual and the community as a whole.  It is important to create surveys for the community to gain a better understanding of the confidence that they have in the police and the experiences of response time of police.  Roberts concludes by stating that nothing is more important than having a full understanding of the nature of the problem of hate crimes in Canada.    This is crucial to the victims of hate crime and the community because if it is better understood the criminal justice system and community groups will better be able to help deal with the issue. 

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City of Toronto

City of Toronto (1998).  “Hate activity policy and procedures”.  Retrieved from the World Wide Web:

This document reviews the policies and procedures of the City of Toronto (hereafter referred to as the “City”) for dealing with hate activity. The stated purpose of this policy is to assist key city officials in the identification of hate motivated crimes and/or incidences by outlining the procedures for responding to hate through the City’s Human Rights Programs. Key parts of this document detail the position of the City on hate crime, including, among other things, its commitment to eliminating hate activity and all forms of discrimination, taking remedial measures to assist victims of hate-motivated crimes, making public condemnations against the actions of hate groups/individuals and racist organizations, and ensuring that people can function in an environment void of hatred through institutional practices and/or individual biases. In describing the scope of the policy, the document recognizes multiple grounds of discrimination, including sexual orientation, ancestry, family status, level of literacy, and other personal characteristics. As these grounds go beyond the categories of discrimination that are typically mentioned, such as race, gender, and religion, this document has a notable progressive orientation. A main section of the document is devoted to providing key terms relating to hate crime, including definitions of hate crime and hate propaganda as well as explanations of what constitutes advocating genocide and publicly inciting hatred.  These terms are referenced from the Criminal Code of Canada. Special attention is also given to the concept of hate crime, as defined by the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code. The final sections of this document detail the appropriate procedures for dealing with hate activity in the City as well as the institutions responsible for handling those procedures.

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