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Cases

Notable Canadian hate crime cases

  • A

    Abrams v. North Shore Free Press Ltd. and Collins (No. 3) (1999), 33 C.H.R.R. D/435 (B.C. Tribunal)

    In this case, the Complainant, Harry Abrams, claimed that the Respondents, North Shore Free Press Ltd. and Doug Collins, published or caused to be published articles that discriminate against Jewish persons and are likely to expose those persons to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, religion and ancestry, contrary to Section 2 of the British Columbia Human Rights Act, S.B.C. 1984, c. 22, now Section 7 of the British Columbia Human Rights Code, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 210. In particular, he alleged “that the continual barrage of articles written by Mr. Doug Collins promoting his view on Holocaust revisionism and Jewish conspiracies, have a cumulative affect of promoting hatred and contempt towards Jewish people.” The Respondents countered that Section 2 of the British Columbia Human Rights Act violates Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The tribunal decided there was sufficient evidence to rule in favour of the complainant. Collins and the North Shore News were ordered to cease publishing statements that are likely to expose Jewish persons to hatred and contempt and refrain from committing the same or similar contravention, and pay a fine of $2,000 to the Complainant as compensation for the injury they had caused to his dignity and self respect.

  • C

    Canada (Human Rights Commission) v. Canadian Liberty Net, [1998] 1 S.C.R. 626

    This case focuses on an injunction given to Tony McAleer, a member of the Canadian Liberty Net. McAleer could no longer make racist phone messages available to the public until the Canadian Human Rights Commission was able to rule its final order. This ruling was regarding whether the messages were a breach of section 13 (1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. McAleer breached the injunction when he set up a phone system in the United States stating the same racial content that was on the previous one. There were two rulings made by the Federal Court of Appeal: it affirmed the finding of contempt, but it set aside the injunction made on the grounds that the Trial Division that allowed for it had no jurisdiction to do so.

    view Canada v. Canadian Liberty Net [1998]

    Canada (Human rights commission) v. Taylor, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 892

    The focus of this case was to determine whether a ruling made to prevent hate messages present on a Toronto telephone number was constitutional. The ruling prevented the phone service from operating because it was discriminatory under section 13 (1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The argument made by the appellant was that section 13 (1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act violated section 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court ruled to dismiss the appeal, and that section 13 (1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act is constitutional.

    view Canada v. Taylor [1990]

    Canadian Jewish Congress v. North Shore Free Press Ltd. and Collins (No. 7) (1997), 30 C.H.R.R. D/5 (B.C. Tribunal)

    In this case, the Complainant, Canadian Jewish Congress, alleged that the Respondents, North Shore Free Press Ltd. and Collins, published or caused to be published an article, entitled Hollywood Propaganda, on March 9, 1994, which discriminated against Jewish persons and was likely to expose those persons to hatred or contempt on the basis of their race, religion and ancestry, contrary to Section 2(1) of the British Columbia Human Rights Act, now Section 7(1) of the British Columbia Human Rights Code. The Respondents countered that Section 2 of the British Columbia Human Rights Act, now Section 7 of the British Columbia Human Rights Code, infringed on Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that the Charter protected the right to express the opinions contained in the article. The Tribunal ruled that Section 7(1) of the British Columbia Human Rights Code was constitutional. It did contravene Section 2(b) of the Charter, yet was saved by Section 1 of the Charter as being demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. It was noted that “the publication in issue is likely to make it more acceptable for others to express hatred or contempt against Jewish people because of their race, religion or ancestry, but that it does not itself express hatred or contempt.” The Tribunal ruled that the complaint was unjustified as the “content and tone of the column did not fall within the scope of prohibition in Section 7(1).” The complaint against the Respondents, North Shore Free Press and Collins, was dismissed.

  • K

    Khaki, Elterman, Gill & Canadian Human Rights Commission v. Canadian Liberty Net (1993), 22 C.H.R.R. D/347

    In this case, the Complainants, Khaki, Elterman, Gill and Canadian Human Rights Commission claimed that the Respondents, Derek J. Peterson and the Canadian Liberty Net, discriminated against Jewish and non-white persons on the grounds of national or ethnic origin, race, color and religion, by causing to be communicated telephone messages which exposed these groups to hatred and contempt, in violation of Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. On December 11, 1991, telephone number 604.266.9642 provided a menu of messages claiming that the Holocaust did not occur, that a “kosher” tax of hundreds of millions of dollars is being levied on consumers, that non-white “aliens” are importing crime and other social problems, as well as a number of other messages exposing Jewish and non-white people to hatred or contempt. The Respondents countered that their right to convey such messages is protected under Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Human Rights Tribunal found that the Respondents violated Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Tribunal ordered that the Respondents cease communicating telephonically messages which are likely to expose persons to contempt or hatred on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin and religion.

  • M

    Mugesera v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2005 SCC 40, [2005] 2 S.C.R. 100

    The focus of this case is whether or not M, an active member of a hard-line Hutu political party, could be deported back to Rwanda on the grounds of a speech he had made indicating murder, genocide, hatred, and a crime against humanity. An adjudicator concluded that the allegations were valid and issued a deportation order against M. The Immigration and Refugee Board (Appeal Division) upheld this decision. The Federal Court — Trial Division dismissed the application for judicial review for the words in his speech indicating murder, genocide and hatred, but allowed it for the crime against humanity. The Federal Court of Appeal reversed findings of fact made by the Immigration and Refugee Board, finding the allegations against M to be unsupported, and set aside the motion for deportation. The Supreme Court ruled the deportation order was valid and therefore should be restored.

    view MugEsera v. Canada [2005]

  • N

    Nealy et al. v. Johnston et al. (1989), 10 C.H.R.R. D/6450 (C.H.R.T.)

    In this case, the Complainants claimed that Randy Johnston, Terry Long and the Church of Jesus Christ Christian-Aryan Nations acted in concert to communicate telephonically or caused to be so communicated, recorded telephone messages that were likely to expose persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that those persons are identifiable on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin, contrary to Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Respondents countered that their right to voice such messages is protected under Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the Respondents did indeed violate Section 13(1). Further, although Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act was found to represent an infringement of Section 2(b) of the Charter. The Tribunal ruled it was a justifiable limitation on freedom of expression relative to Section 1 of the Charter. The Tribunal ordered the Respondents to cease the discriminatory practice of communicating telephonically, or causing to be so communicated, matters that are likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour or religion.

  • R

    R. v. Andrews, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 870

    Andrews, a leader of the Nationalist Party of Canada, was charged under section 319 (2) of the Canadian Criminal Code for the wilful promotion of hatred against and identifiable group. Both A and S, the secretary of the Nationalist Party of Canada, were members of the central committee which was responsible for the publication of the Nationalist Reporter, which promoted white supremacy. They were both convicted; this was upheld by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the sections under the Criminal Code are constitutional. 

    view R. v. Andrews [1990]

    R. v. Keegstra, [1990] 3 S.C.R. 697

    Keegstra was a high school teacher in Alberta. He had been communicating anti-Semitic statements to his students. There were a number of sections of the Criminal Code and Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that were tested in this case. Keegstra was charged under s. 319 (2) of the Criminal Code for wilfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group. Keegstra had applied prior to his trial to the Court of Queen’s Bench for an order to repeal the charge because 319(2) of the Code violated Keegstra’s freedom of expression guaranteed under s. 2 (b) of the Charter. The court dismissed the application. Keegstra argued that the Code violated s. 11 (d) of the Charter, which outlined the presumption of innocence; this was disallowed by the Court as well. Section 319(3)(a) allows the defence of “truth” to the wilful promotion of hatred but only after a balance of probabilities is communicated through statements. Keegstra was tried and convicted. The Court of Appeal ruled that ss. 319(2) and 319(3)(a) of the Code did infringe on ss. 2(b) and 11(d) of the Charter and that it was not justifiable under s. 1 of the 
    Charter. The Supreme Court allowed the appeal, stating that the sections in the Criminal Code are constitutional. 

    view R. v. Keegstra [1990]

    R. v. Keegstra, [1995] 2 S.C.R. 381

    In this case, the Crown appealed to the Supreme Court under s. 619(1)(a) of the Criminal Code. Keegstra filed an application for leave to appeal, which contained three grounds. One was a constitutional issue. The Crown filed a motion to repeal Keegstra’s application because the Court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the appeal on the issues that have been raised. Both the Crown’s motion to cancel the application for leave to appeal, as well as Keegstra’s application for leave to appeal, were dismissed.

    view R. v. Keegstra [1995]

    R. v. Keegstra, [1996] 1 S.C.R. 458 

    This is an appeal from a judgement made in the Alberta Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court agreed with the decision made in the 1990 case against Keegstra. It found that the conviction should be restored and that section 319(3)(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada does infringe on section 11(d) of the Charter; however, this infringement is justified under section 1 of the Charter. 

    view R. v. Keegstra [1996]

    R. v. Krymowski, 2005 SCC 7, [2005] 1 S.C.R. 101

    Krymowski was charged under s. 319 (2) of the Criminal Code for wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group. He communicated statements (including written statements) against the Roma. The defence accepted that the Roma are an identifiable group; however, they stated that the demonstrations were directed against “gypsies” and there is not evidence that they are the same as the Roma. The Crown did not prove an essential element of the offence and the trial judge acquitted the accused. The Crown appealed to the summary conviction appeal court and the Court of Appeal, both of which were dismissed. The Supreme Court set aside both appeals and new trials were ordered. It was ruled that it was not necessary for the Crown to prove that the “gypsies” and Roma are the same and the trial judge focused too much on the statement.

    view R. v. Krymowski [2005]

    R. v. Zundel, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 731

    Zundel was charged with spreading false news when he published a pamphlet titled, Did Six Million Really Die? The pamphlet suggested that it had not been proven that six million Jewish people had been killed before and during World War II. This charge was contrary to s. 181 of the Criminal Codewhich states that a person who wilfully publishes news which is known to be false, that can cause or has caused injury or mischief, is guilty of an indictable offence and can be imprisoned. Zundel was charged and on appeal his conviction was constitutional; however, it was struck down because of errors in admitting evidence and in the charge to the jury. There was a new trial in which Zundel was convicted and kept by the Court of Appeal. The appeal to the Supreme Court was to determine whether s. 181 of the Code did infringe on Zundel’s freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If it did infringe on the Charter, was it justifiable under s. 1 of the Charter. The court found that that Section 181 of the Code was unconstitutional.

    view R. v. Zundel [1992]

    Ross v. New Brunswick School District No. 15, [1996] 1 S.C.R. 825

    In this case, the Complainant, Malcolm Ross, alleged that the New Brunswick School Board had wrongfully dismissed him from his teaching position for discriminatory remarks he made both in and outside the classroom. For several years, Ross made racist and discriminatory statements about Jewish peoples in public, conveying his anti-Semitic views in print and in a local television interview. Ross alleged the School Board’s decision violated his freedom of expression and religion as protected under Section 1 and 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Respondent, the New Brunswick School District No. 15, found Ross’ views to be extreme and to have a negative effect on Jewish students who experienced a “poisoned educational environment.” Further, the Respondents claimed that Ross violated Section 2 and 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Supreme Court of Canada agreed with the Respondent that his freedom of expression and religion as outlined in Section 1 and 2 of the Charter were violated by the School Board’s decision, but found that this breach was justifiable.


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