Threshold for hate crimes charges high in Canada
Posted Mar 18, 2021 06:42:44 PM.
Last Updated Mar 19, 2021 06:48:21 AM.
CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Torch marches, Nazi salutes, and Confederate flags.
For many, these are clear examples of hate and should be charged as hate crimes, but that’s not always the case — and there’s a high threshold that must be met for police to go down that road.
“The simple act of putting up a hate sign is one thing, but you then have to prove that they actually intended to foster hatred and so that becomes a really challenging thing,” said Doug King, a Justice Studies professor at Mount Royal University
Take the investigation of a Confederate flag found flying over a cemetery in Calgary’s southeast.
WATCH: CityNews’ Jonathan Muma reports on two young men Nazi saluting downtown, just hours after a Confederate flag was seen flying at Union Cemetery.
Police issued a lengthy release explaining just that, appearing to set expectations early in that investigation.
“Ultimately, if you’re going to lay a charge in terms of willful promotion of hatred or something like that, you need to get the Attorney General of Canada’s office to approve it,” said King.
But in some jurisdictions, like Montreal, it’s even more difficult because it doesn’t have a dedicated Hate Crimes Unit, something a motion heading to council next week hopes to change.
“We want to ask the police force to be especially vigilant at this time because we do not want a similar incident to be repeated – the carnage that happened in Georgia, we don’t want it to happen to Asian Canadian women and men,” said Farida Mohamed, the President of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.
As for the case of an Atlanta man allegedly killing 8 people, six of them of Asian decent and whether it’s a hate crime, US states have their own criminal codes in addition to federal law, and there is separate legislation that allows for charges of ‘crimes motivated by hate’ if police choose to.
As far as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is concerned, King says the Supreme Court has purposely set the bar very high on hate in order to protect freedom of expression rights.