A hate or bias crime is a criminal offense committed against a person or property which is motivated by hate, bias or prejudice based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, language, mental or physical disability, sex, age, or any other similar factor.
The Criminal Code of Canada contains several specific offences related to hate propaganda, such as advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, and willful promotion of hatred. There is also an offence related to hate motivated mischief against religious property. Some common offences that could be motivated by hate are assaults, threats, harassment and mischief to property, such as vandalism or graffiti.
Hate and bias incidents are those actions by an individual or group that, while motivated by bias, prejudice or racism, do not rise to the level of a criminal offence. These include racial slurs, homophobic bullying, racist or offensive emails, or distributing material that endorses hate.
Reporting hate crimes
Research indicates that only approximately 1 in 10 hate motivated incidents are reported to police. Many victims of hate motivated crimes do not report their victimization to the police, for a variety of reasons, including fear of retaliation, language or cultural barriers or a perception of the importance of the incident.
If you have been a victim of a hate motivated-crime, or have witnessed a hate-motivated crime, please report it to police and have it investigated. It is crucial to the safety of all citizens that all incidents of hate be investigated, in order that a strong message is sent that hate will not be tolerated in Calgary communities.
Be an active witness. Often our silence signals our consent in acts of hate or discrimination. If you observe a hate/bias incident or crime, consider being an active witness if it is safe to do so by using your cell phone to take pictures or video of the event; taking some notes of the date and time, what was said and done; and recording suspect descriptions, including age, height, weight, clothing, tattoos, and distinguishing features. When safe to do so provide the information to police.
Although many citizens might not agree with the viewpoints of certain groups who openly demonstrate to voice hate based ideas, Canada is a free and democratic society that provides fundamental freedoms to all its citizens.
The Calgary Police Service must balance the requirement to enforce Canadian laws with the duty to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Canadians. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
- Freedom of conscience and religion;
- Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
- Freedom of peaceful assembly; and
- Freedom of association.
The Charter states that individuals have the freedom to their own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions and can express those openly. The only time the police would infringe on that right is when the law is broken.
Hate incidents can be reported to the Alberta Human Rights Commission via their confidential inquiry line at 403-297-6571.
If you're witnessing a crime or are involved in an emergency situation, please call 9-1-1.
If you would like to report a crime but are not presently in danger, call the non-emergency police line at 403-266-1234.
Additional resources on hate crimes