“Hate” per se doesn't exist as a crime on its own in the Criminal Code of Canada.
However, inciting hatred, promoting hatred, advocating or promoting genocide, spreading hate propaganda or antisemitism are listed as crimes in the Criminal Code of Canada.
But even if the crime doesn’t fall under one of these categories, judges can take hate into consideration when sentencing, that is, weighing whether it’s a factor or motivation in committing the crime.
This could be a bias, prejudice or hate based on colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or mental or physical disability.
In November 2022, a couple was found guilty of mischief and given one-year conditional sentences after they hurled racists insults, poured coffee on the floor and threw a cup in a Steveston coffee shop.
The judge, Diana Vandor, said in her judgment it’s not a crime to hurl racist insults.
In fact, she said the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees “Canadians have the freedom to hate and feel bias or prejudice against others without fear of criminalization.”
“They’re free to throw insults that are motivated by hate, bias or prejudice,” she added.
But when the couple poured the coffee on the floor and threw a cup, they went too far, and their racism was considered a motivating factor in their sentencing for mischief.
A man, however, who sprayed racist graffiti on a poster of a Black model on No. 3 Road in Richmond was found guilty of “promotion of hatred.”
Chao Wang sprayed the graffiti, including a swastika and a rope that was “indicative of lynching,” according to the judge, on a poster at a bus stop.
He was sentenced to six months in prison and 12 months of probation.
Public incitement of hatred against an identifiable group which is “likely” to lead to a breach of peace can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison or a summary conviction.
Promotion of hatred is defined as “communicating statements” – except those made in private conversation – that “wilfully promote hatred” against an identifiable group. This can carry a sentence of up to two years in prison or a summary conviction.
Condoning, denying or downplaying the Holocaust is considered a crime of “wilful promotion of antisemitism.” The sentence can also be up to two years in prison or a summary conviction.
Genocide is the act of killing members of a group or deliberately inflicting conditions on a group meant to bring about its physical destruction.
Advocating genocide can carry of sentence of up to five years.