Ministry of Attorney General
June 4, 1998
OTTAWA AGREES WITH B.C, TO EXPAND HATE LAW REVIEW
VICTORIA - Ottawa has agreed to British Columbia's request for an expanded review of the Criminal Code to help fight hate crime, including hate propaganda on the Internet, Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh said today.
"The existing provisions of the Criminal Code have not kept pace with the proliferation of hate propaganda through new technology. Nor does the code reflect the complexity of hate activity as it is being carried out by organized hate groups across the world."
"In a multicultural society such as British Columbia, hate comes present a risk to public safety that simply can't be tolerated. We need a Criminal Code that reflects the seriousness of this crime, and gives police and prosecutors the tools they need to take effective action."
Dosanjh and Minister of Justice Anne McLellan have agreed to expand the terms of reference for the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group on Diversity, Equality and Justice so that it can review substantive provisions in the Criminal Code pertaining to hate crime. Dosanjh said that in view of this agreement, he wants the working group to review five initial reforms proposed by B.C.:
. making possession of hate propaganda for the purpose of distributing it with the intention of promoting hate a Criminal Code offense.
. allowing seizure of computer hard drives storing hate propaganda. [this should be a fun assignment for rookie RCMP constables- break down the doors of some business, smash open their server and rip out the hard drive 'cause the janitor was browsing the Aryan Dating Page. (a 'hate' page according to Sol Littman and Hatewatch.org)].
. establishing a uniform, national definition in the Criminal Code of 'hatred'. [why would he overlook the opportunity to legally define 'contempt'. You can just as easily violate s.318 by expressing 'contempt' instead of 'hatred'.]
. providing definitions of both 'possession' and 'public place' as they relate specifically to computers. [real subtle here. Guess where 'ISP's' and 'web pages' would fall under.]
. expanding the identifiable groups to include race, national or ethnic origin, language, color, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability and sexual orientation. [so we are forbidden to express 'contempt' or 'hatred' for the identifiable sexual orientation of perverts?]
The working group is co-chaired by the Ministry of Attorney General (B.C.) and the Department of Justice. Dosanjh said he will ensure that the group shares information and strategies with the federal/provincial/territorial working group that is addressing pornography [..don't most pornographers have an identifiable sexual orientation?] and other offensive materials on the Internet.
"I will also be working to ensure that these reforms, and other actions to fight hate crime, are a priority at my next meeting with Justice McLellan and the provincial/territorial ministers of justice," said Dosanjh.
Ministry of Attorney General
(250) 387-5008 (Victoria)
P O Box 9044 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9E2
June 4, 1998
Honourable Anne McLellan, P.C.. M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
East Memorial Bldg.
284 Wellington Street - 4th Floor
Further to our discussion on Friday May 7. 1998, I want to thank you for your commitment that the Federal, Provincial, Territorial Working Group on Diversity, Equality and Justice will expand its terms of reference to recognize that the existing provisions of the Criminal Code regarding hate propaganda have not kept pace with the proliferation of this kind of material through new technology. I believe the federal government and the provinces and territories of Canada need to focus more clearly and move more swiftly on making the changes necessary to show that our citizens do not tolerate hate crimes.
As you know, the Province of British Columbia has been in the public spotlight as a result of Internet hate messages emanating from Oliver, B.C. [unproven accusation by BC AG] The Mayor and citizens of Oliver displayed exemplary courage in resisting [?? with the help of CJC] this kind of activity and in their willingness to embrace diversity in their community.
The Oliver situation is another example of how difficult it is for the justice system to deal with such matters under the current law. Criminal Code of Canada Sections 318,319, and 320 do not address the complexity of hate as it is propagated now by organized hate groups across the world.
In response to a very real problem in Quebec relating to motorcycle gang crimes, the Enterprise Crime Offence amendments to the Criminal Code were enacted very quickly. In a multicultural society such as British Columbia, hate
crimes raise an equally urgent need to protect the public peace and safety. We look forward to as expeditious a solution here in British Columbia as was found for the problem in Quebec.
British Columbia is a leader in combating hate crime. We created a hate crime team in 1996 to co-ordinate and support investigation of hate-motivated crimes. The team and other police and prosecutors in British Columbia tell me they need better tools for the investigation of these offences. The provisions of the Criminal Code need to be reviewed not only in the context of hate on the Internet, but also with a broader view to addressing the reality of hate crimes in Canada today.
I appreciate your agreement that the Federal, Provincial, Territorial Working Group on Diversity, Equality and Justice will immediately expand their review and assess British Columbia's following proposals for reforms as a starting point:
1. Make possession of hate propaganda for the purposes of distributing it with the intention of promoting hate, a Criminal Code offence. This would allow us to proceed in a manner similar to enforcement against child pornography. The damage from hate propaganda is as serious as that resulting from child pornography. The incursions into freedom of speech that would be necessary to bring hate propaganda under control could be balanced by societal interests, as defined by s.1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
2. Allow seizure of computer hard drives storing hate propaganda. [Of course we'll need to seize hard drives first, then have our crime lab 'find' the evidence to justify the seizure. Not that there would be any pressure for them to 'cooperate' with the prosecution, but if our crime lab staff are 'slow learners' they can take lessons from the FBI.] Currently s.320 does not extend to data on computers, thus posing a significant barrier to investigations of hate propaganda over the Internet.
3. Provide definitions of both 'possession' and 'public place' as they relate specifically to computers. This would reduce the problem related to the investigation and prosecution of internet crime. [Any ISP that is reluctant to immediately delete web content that Sol Littman, CJC, B'nai Brith etc.. complains about would be liable for charges under this section.]
4. Establish a definition in the Criminal Code of 'hatred'. [what about 'contempt'?] At the moment, 'hatred' is limited to the most extreme form of dislike, wherein the target is denied respect, is despised, and is vilified.
5. Expand the identifiable groups enumerated under s.318. There is no reasonable basis for limiting the groups protected from hate propaganda to colour, race, religion, and ethnic origin. The groups protected under the sentencing provisions dealing with hate crimes (s.718.2) should be mirrored in the hate propaganda provisions. They would then include race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, [child molesters, pedophiles, pederasts, etc.. will like this!] or any other similar factor. [does he have any idea what 'sexual orientation' includes?]
I am aware that each of these reforms requires an in-depth analysis to determine whether a s.1 Charter argument could save any amendments that have an impact on freedom of speech.
However, I am confident that your agreement to have the working group assess these proposals will result in quick action and give provinces the tools to deal with hate propaganda transmitted through new technology.
Ujjal Dosanjh, Q.C.
Update: Nov 25, 1998
Crackdown on hate materials planned
Criminal code reforms: Tougher laws would include penalties, hard drive seizures
Update: Dec. 6, 1998
Speech Cops of the Great White North
Update: Dec. 23, 1998
Petition to protect free speech in Canada
BC AG FOIP Request Index