Hate and bias crimes
A hate- or bias-motivated crime is a criminal offence – committed against a person or property – motivated in whole or in part by hate, bias or prejudice based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, language, mental or physical disability, sex, age, or any other similar factor.
Hate- and bias-motivated incidents are situations where the actions of an individual or group were motivated by bias, hate, prejudice or racism, but the actions did not rise to the level of a criminal offence. These may include uttering slurs, homophobic bullying, distributing material endorsing hate, etc.
The Criminal Code of Canada contains several specific sections and subsections covering offences related to hate propaganda (public incitement of hatred, willful promotion of hatred, advocating genocide), and hate-motivated mischief against certain types of property.
Reporting hate crimes
Research indicates approximately one 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 are a victim of a hate-motivated crime, or have witnessed a hate-motivated crime, please report it to police. It is crucial to the safety of all citizens that every incident of hate is investigated. This also reinforces our stance that hate will not be tolerated in Calgary communities.
Be an active witness. Silence or non-action are often perceived as condoning acts of hate or discrimination. When you observe a hate or bias incident or crime, if it is safe to do so, record pictures or video of the event with your cellphone. Take notes of when it occurred (date and time), and what exactly was said and done; describe the offenders (age, height, weight, clothing worn, distinguishing features such as tattoos) and provide the information to police.
Although many citizens might not agree with the viewpoints of certain groups who openly gather to voice their 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
- Freedom of peaceful assembly
- 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 police via email at email@example.com. They can also be reported to the Alberta Human Rights Commission through their confidential inquiry line at 403-297-6571, or to the Alberta Hate Crime Committee at #STOPHATEAB website.
If you're witnessing a crime in progress or are involved in an emergency situation, call 9-1-1.
If you would like to report a crime but are not presently in danger, call the non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.