Hate Propaganda

In Canada, the public promotion of hate against identifiable groups and the advocacy of genocide is, under certain conditions, a criminal offence, punishable by up to 2 years' imprisonment.

The Criminal Code was amended in 1970 to include these antihate provisions. This legislation was prompted in part by the 1965 Report of the Special Committeee on Hate Propaganda in Canada. This blue-ribbon panel, chaired by McGill Law Dean and later International Court of Justice Judge Maxwell Cohen, also included then professor and later-to-be Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The committee examined the pernicious effects of hate propaganda and cautiously recommended a legislative response.

There have been 3 successful prosecutions under the law thus far. The best known is that of former Alberta high school teacher James Keegstra, whose conviction for spreading anti-Semitic views in his classroom was upheld unanimously by a full 9-judge panel of the Supreme Court of Canada in 1996.

Aside from criminal prosecution, federal and provincial human-rights statutes have been used successfully against hate propaganda. These provisions have been particularly effective in prohibiting the transmission of such materials telephonically. The new frontier in this stuggle is combating computer hate on the Internet. As well, the Canada Customs Act has been used to block the importation of hate literature into Canada.