Hate speech in Canada
Status of free speech in Canada.
Criminal Code, sections 318 & 319.
Status of free speech in Canada compared with the U.S.:
In the U.S., a person cannot falsely yell "fire" in a crowded movie
theatre. But they are free to say just about anything else without danger of
|A fundamentalist Christian teleminister in the early 1990s advocated the execution of all Wiccans in the
|More recently. A fundamentalist Baptist pastor from Texas advocated that the U.S. army
round up Wiccans and burn them alive with napalm. |
|Recently, Merrill Keiser, Jr., apparently a fundamentalist Christian, entered the
2006-MAY Democratic primary with a platform calling for the genocide by execution of
sexually active homosexuals. He told WTOL-TV in Toledo" "Just like we have laws
against murder, we have laws against stealing, we have laws against taking
drugs. We should have laws against immoral conduct."|
All three were immune from prosecution due to the
U.S. Constitution's First Amendment which guarantees
almost complete freedom of speech in the country.
(We do not wish to overemphasize the advocacy of genocide by
fundamentalist Christians. However, we are unaware of any other groups promoting
genocide motivated by religion in the
Canadians do not have this level of freedom of speech.
Its citizens are not allowed to incite or promote hatred in some circumstance,
advocate genocide or against certain specified groups, or actually commit
The Criminal Code of Canada: Hate propaganda sections:
Prior to 2004-APR-29, the "Hate Propaganda" section of the Criminal Code of
Canada (Section 318 & 319) prohibited the expression of
hatred against -- or the advocacy of genocide of -- four "identifiable groups:" people distinguished by their
"color, race, religion or ethnic
Curiously, gender, disability,
sexual orientation, gender identity and
other criteria were not included.
Apparently one could have delivered a speech that "willfully promotes hatred"
-- even one which "advocates or promotes genocide" -- against
women, men, inter-sexual persons, the disabled, heterosexuals, bisexuals, homosexuals,
cisgendered or transgender
persons, transsexuals, and others while enjoying
immunity of prosecution under the law.
Bill C-250 added sexual orientation to the list of "identifiable groups" when
it was signed into law on 2004-APR-29. However, there are still many categories
of people who remain unprotected against genocide
advocacy and hate speech.
Section 319 in the hate propaganda section of the criminal code:
This section deals with public incitement of hatred:
|If it can be shown that the speech was so abusive that it was likely
to incite listeners or readers into violent action against an identifiable group, and
if the the speech was made in a public place, then a person could be
charged under this section.|
|If the speech promoted hatred against an identifiable group, but was
not likely to incite a listener to violence, then a person could still be
charged. However there are many safeguards that could give that person
immunity. A person could not be charged:|
|If the hate speech was expressed during a private conversation.|
|If the person can establish that the statements made are true.|
|If, "in good faith, he expressed or attempted to establish by
argument an opinion on a religious subject." This would give
clergypersons immunity from conviction for a hate-based sermon, for example.|
|If the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest,
and if, on reasonable grounds, the person believed them to be true. This
would give additional protection to clergy.|
|If he described material that might generate feelings of hatred for
an identifiable group "for the purpose of removal" of that
hatred. This gives websites such as ours the freedom to document and expose religious
and other forms of hatred without running afoul of this law.|
|If the provincial Attorney General refused to give permission. The Attorney General's consent is required
before charges can be laid..
In this section of the Code, the term "statements" includes
spoken words, written words, published text, gestures, signs and other visible
representations, including the Internet.
The Code permits up to two years in prison for anyone convicted of a
public incitement of hatred or willful promotion of hatred. It permits the government to confiscate any literature that was used in
conjunction with the hate speech.
Section 318 in the hate propaganda section of the criminal code:
This section covers the advocacy or promotion of genocide.
This includes promoting the killing of members of an
identifiable group, or "deliberately inflicting on
the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical
However, only certain
categories of individuals are currently in identified groups: namely those "distinguished by
their colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation."
Apparently, one can advocate genocide against women, men, inter-sexual
persons, the mentally or
physically disabled, cisgendered
or transgender persons, transsexuals, the elderly, etc. and be immune from prosecution under
this law. This is an omission that we find very strange.
the perpetrator may be imprisoned for up to five years.
- "Hate propaganda: Advocating genocide," Criminal Code of Canada, at:
Copyright © 2003 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2009-AUG-09
Author: B.A. Robinson