Policy and Communications Branch Briefing Note
ISSUE: CBC-TV interview. Hate Propaganda on the Internet
MINISTRY'S RECOMMENDED RESPONSE:
Hate propaganda on the Internet is a serious concern. I am committed to doing everything legally possible to stop those who spread hate, including enforcement actions against those who perpetrate hate crimes.
Speaking personally, I am deeply offended by hate propaganda and I believe that those who maintain an Internet vehicle for the dissemination of hate literature should examine their own motives.
There are various levels of response to this issue. I am advised that some Internet providers ensure that hate material is not disseminated through their service. This obviously reflects a sense of social responsibility.
Another level of response is through provincial legislation. Under the B. C. Human Rights Act, a complaint of publication of hate materials may be filed with the B.C. Council of Human Rights. The Council has the authority to appoint a Board of Inquiry to investigate such complaints and the Board of Inquiry can prohibit the offending conduct and order that compensation be paid. My government has amended this Act (effective October 1) to provide the Commission with the ability to initiate complaints in the public interest. The B.C. Civil Rights Protection Act also prohibits communications promoting hatred.
Depending on the circumstances there may also be the option of criminal prosecution. In appropriate circumstances, the police will investigate allegations of hate-mongering and the Crown will prosecute. The Criminal Code specifically prohibits public statements inciting hatred on the basis of colour, race, religion or ethnic origin.
It is indicative of B.C.'s and my own personal commitment that the Hate Crime Team was established last spring to research these issues, to liaise with community groups concerned with issues of hatemongering and to provide advice to me, Crown Counsel, and in appropriate. circumstances, to the police.
I want to point out that what I'm talking about is not a matter of regulating the Internet. I'm interested in enforcing the law which exists to prohibit the promotion of hatred. The use of modern Internet technology may make law enforcement against hate propaganda more difficult but it doesn't insulate illegal behaviour.
Re: Internet providers - Elsewhere in Canada, web-site providers have removed services from those purveying hate literature. In B.C., Mascon Communications has decided to withdraw its Internet services from Fairview Technology in Oliver, B.C. which was providing Internet access for various racist organizations.
Re: B. C. Human Rights Act - It should be noted that contraventions under the Human Rights Act cannot be prosecuted as offences. An opinion provided by Counsel with the Legal Services Branch concludes that this Act will likely be subject to a Charter challenge.
Re: B. C. Civil Rights Protection Act - This Act also permits the initiation of a lawsuit and creates on offence. An opinion provided by Legal Services Branch Counsel concludes that that this Act will likely be subject to a Charter challenge and that the offence procedures are likely susceptible to this challenge.
Re: Hate Crime Team -The team which was announced on April 24, 1996, is comprised of Crown Counsel, policy analysts, community liaison and representatives from both the RCMP and Vancouver Police forces. Work in progress includes:
A full policy package is expected by the end of the calendar year.
Criminal Justice Branch
Community Justice Branch
Contact: Susan Christie
Contact: Brian Rendell
Date: August 21, 1996