The Keegstra case (1990) dealt with freedom of expression and hate propaganda. James Keegstra, a teacher in a secondary school in Alberta, made anti-Semitic statements in his classes and was accused of having fomented hatred against the Jews. Section 281.1(2) (now section 319(2)) of the Criminal Code prohibits hate propaganda other than in private conversations. The case was finally heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. The Court unanimously concluded that hate propaganda formed part of protected freedom of expression pursuant to subsection 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because hate propaganda is a form of expression. The Court held that subsection 319(2) of the Criminal Code violated subsection 2(b) of the Charter because it prohibited hate propaganda; nevertheless, the Court divided 4 to 3 on the justification of section 319(2) of the Criminal Code pursuant to section 1 of the Charter. According to Chief Justice Dickson, who stated the reasons of the majority, the prohibition of hate propaganda was a pressing objective of a real and very important character; this objective is supported by international documents to which Canada is a party and sections 15 (equality) and 27 (multiculturalism) of the Charter; the impugned section is reasonable and the limitation on expression is minimal. Judge McLachlin set out the reasons of the dissenting judges. She affirmed: "If the guarantee of freedom of expression is to have meaning, it must protect expression which disputes even the basic idea of our society. A real commitment to respect for freedom of expression demands nothing less."
Links to Other Sites
What is a hate crime?
A CBC special feature on Canadian laws that pertain to hate crimes.
Notable Canadian Hate Crime Cases
A brief summary of notable Canadian hate crime cases and related information sources from Dr. Perry, Professor of Criminology, Justice and Policy Studies at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.