The Hate Crimes Community Working Group Report and Initiatives in Schools
The Hate Crimes Community Working Group Report
The Hate Crimes Community Working Group defines hate activity as:
Hate incidents: expressions of bias, prejudice and bigotry that are carried out by individuals, groups, organizations and states, directed against stigmatized and marginalized groups in communities, and intended to affirm and secure existing structures of domination and subordination.
Hate crimes: hate incidents that are also criminal offences committed against a person or property and motivated, in whole or in part, by bias or prejudice based on real or perceived race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, gender, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.
Many of the recommendations the Commission proposed to organizations stem from the work done by the Hate Crimes Community Working Group. In 2005, the Hate Crimes Community Working Group was appointed by the Attorney General and the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services to examine the need for reform in addressing hate and hate crime in Ontario. The Working Group made approximately 100 recommendations as part of a multi-pronged approach aimed at enhancing the ability of the criminal justice system, the education system, the human rights system, and community agencies to address and prevent hate incidents and hate crimes, as well as assist those who experience them. There are eight themes outlined, including a focus on Aboriginal peoples, victim services, communities, the criminal justice system, public awareness, social marketing, implementation and accountability.
One of the key issues identified by the Hate Crimes Community Working Group is that hate-specific offences are defined very narrowly in the Criminal Code. Hate-specific offences pertain only to “Hate Propaganda” and “Mischief” (where there has been damage to property used for religious worship). This means that someone can be charged for advocating genocide, publicly inciting hatred, and wilfully promoting hatred, if based on the victim’s colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation, but cannot be charged with “hate-motivated assault”, for example. According to the Hate Crimes Community Working Group, very few charges have been laid under the Criminal Code’s hate provisions.
However, many people experience hate-based crime that does not fit within the definitions of prosecutable offences of “hate propaganda” under the Criminal Code. The criminal justice system addresses this by introducing hate motivation into the proceedings at sentencing, but only after the perpetrator has been found guilty. A narrow focus of what constitutes “hate” in the Criminal Code and inconsistent definitions across jurisdictions, make it difficult to capture an accurate picture of the extent of the problem and the seriousness of the impact on vulnerable communities.
In other jurisdictions, such as England, Wales and Scotland, hate-specific crimes are distinct offences in criminal law. The Hate Crimes Community Working Group recommended studying the effectiveness of these offences and suggested that the province of Ontario, in conjunction with federal and territorial partners, propose amendments to the Criminal Code to incorporate these types of offences (Recommendation 6.2). The Commission also asked that the Attorney General encourage consistency in definitions across jurisdictions, and examine how the Criminal Code might be amended to incorporate broader hate-motivated offences.
Another concern of the Hate Crimes Community Working Group was the underreporting of hate-motivated crimes to police. According to a survey released by Statistics Canada, less than half of people who experience hate crimes report them to police. In the Commission’s Inquiry, many people who experienced negative or frightening fishing experiences had not previously contacted authorities, whether through a sense of helplessness, fear of reprisal or other reasons.  Many individuals rely instead on community groups for support and are reluctant to report to police for a number of reasons.
This underscores the need to ensure that community groups have adequate resources on an ongoing basis to address hate crimes or incidents of discrimination, and to ensure that police actively reach out to communities so that people can make complaints in the language they are most comfortable with. These recommendations, made by the Hate Crimes Community Working Group, were also raised by Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall in meetings with Police Services, the Attorney General, and the Minister of Citizenship.
Recently, the Government of Ontario announced the interim progress that has been made with respect to the recommendations, including:
- Developing a brochure for all police officers to supplement hate crimes training. This brochure contains the broader definitions of hate crimes proposed by the Hate Crimes Community Working Group
- Providing grants to community organizations for anti-hate crime projects
- Piloting hate-crimes training with victim service workers
- Funding research on incorporating individual and community victim impact statements into the criminal justice process
- Updating the Crown prosecution policy on hate crimes to ensure that it reflects legal developments.
In addition, an interminsterial committee has been convened to address the Hate Crimes Community Working Group’s report. The Commission reiterated many of the Hate Crimes Community Working Group’s recommendations to the various ministries involved, particularly the Ministry of Education, the Attorney General, and Community Safety and Correctional Services. A list of these proposed commitments is included in the chart in section 5. In response to many of the commitments proposed, ministries supplied information on the progress that has been made in the area of anti-racism and anti-hate. The Cabinet Office of the Government of Ontario has indicated that some of the proposed commitments will require further consideration from government. The Commission is committed to working on this issue further with government ministries to enhance their current activities and ensure a comprehensive response to the issues raised by the Inquiry.
Initiatives in Schools
The Ministry of Education and various boards serving the affected areas agreed with the Commission’s proposal to develop curriculum support materials to teach about racism and hate activity, with opportunities to examine racism against Asian Canadians and the angler incidents. The Commission encouraged that this development be undertaken in conjunction with anti-racism educators and people from Asian Canadian communities. The activities that boards and the Ministry of Education already undertake with respect to anti-discrimination education are described in the chart in section 6.
The Commission also asked that the Ministry of Education agree to consider modifying its curriculum in accordance with one of the recommendations of the Hate Crimes Community Working Group. Recommendation 4.2 pertains to modifying the curriculum in consultation with communities vulnerable to hate to teach about issues of difference and possible forms of overt and systemic discrimination; and providing students with the knowledge, skills, resources and tools to recognize and confront hate. The Commission also asked the Ministry to consider Recommendation 4.9, which recommended that the Ministry of Education ensure that processes are in place for early intervention in response to discriminatory attitudes and beliefs and responding to reports of hate-related incidents.
In the Commission’s Safe Schools settlement with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry agreed to implement various anti-racism initiatives, including training teachers and principals on anti-racism principles; investing in resources for teachers to inform them of strategies for teaching Black, Aboriginal and other racialized students; and highlighting resources for teachers and guidance counsellors to help inform strategies for teaching racialized students and students with disabilities. The Ministry of Education has indicated that some of these initiatives are in development. As the Hate Crimes Community Working Group recommendations and the settlement terms are interrelated, the Commission would like to explore these terms further with the Ministry of Education to understand how they can add to the education already provided in schools.
 Hate Crimes Community Working Group (2006). Addressing Hate Crime in Ontario: Final Report of the Hate Crimes Community Working Group. Ontario. pp.18-19.
 Hate Crimes Community Working Group (2006). Addressing Hate Crime in Ontario: Background Document and Resources. Ontario. Part 1, p.1.
 Hate Crimes Community Working Group (2006). Addressing Hate Crime in Ontario: Final Report of the Hate Crimes Community Working Group. Ontario. p.51.
 In the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c.C-46, as amended, hate propaganda is defined in the following sections: advocating genocide s.318(1), publicly inciting hatred, s.319(1), and wilfully promoting hatred, s. 319(2).
 Hate Crimes Community Working Group (2006). Addressing Hate in Ontario: Background Documentation and Resources. Ontario. Part 4, p. 3.
 Janhevich, D.E. (2001). Hate Crime in Canada: An Overview of Issues and Data Sources. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. And Hate Crimes Community Working Group (2006). Addressing Hate Crime in Ontario: Final Report of the Hate Crimes Community Working Group. Ontario .p.22.
 The General Social Survey (1999) put this number at 45%. Silver,W., Mihorean, K., and Taylor Butts, A., (2004). Hate Crime in Canada. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, p.5.; The Hate Crimes Community Working Group indicates that some studies say that only one in 10 report to police. Hate Crime Community Working Group (2006). Addressing Hate Crime in Ontario, Final Report of the Hate Crimes Community Working Group. Ontario. p. 13.
 Ontario Human Rights Commission, (2007). Preliminary Findings: Inquiry Into Assaults on Asian Canadian Anglers. Ontario. p. 5.
 Reasons may include fear of reprisal by perpetrators, fear and mistrust of law enforcement because they come from different cultural backgrounds, and fear of secondary victimization. For a summary, see Janhevich, D.E. (2001). Hate Crime in Canada: An Overview of Issues and Data Sources. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, approximately one in ten victims of violent crime (hate motivated and not hate motivated) were likely to turn to community agencies for support. Gannon, M. and Mihorean, K. (2004). Criminal Victimization in Canada, 2004. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, p.13.
 Government of Ontario Press Release, March 17, 2008, found online at ogov.newswire.ca/Ontario/GPOE/2008/03/17/
 The Commission initiated a complaint against the Ministry of Education based on the perception that the Safe Schools provisions of the Education Act, R.S.O.1990, c.E2, had a discriminatory impact on racialized students and students with disabilities. The settlement, reached in April 2007, addressed various aspects of education, including school discipline, data collection, progressive discipline, staffing and training, and curriculum.
 Clauses 31 (b) and (c). The full settlement with the Ministry of Education can be found on the Commission’s web site at www.ohrc.on.ca.