Hate crime in Canada

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By Mia Dauvergne, Katie Scrim and Shannon Brennan, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada

Canada is a multi-cultural society comprised of many social, cultural, religious and linguistic groups. According to 2006 Census data, over 5 million Canadians or 16% of the population, reported being members of a visible minority group, up by 27% since 2001 (Statistics Canada, 2008). The number of same-sex couples has also increased, up by 33% between 2001 and 2006 (Statistics Canada, 2007). Canada's religious composition is also changing, with some of the largest increases between 1991 and 2001 in Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religious denominations (Statistics Canada, 2003). With such diversity, the potential arises for acts of discrimination or conflict between individuals and groups, some of which are recognized as hate crimes.1

Hate crimes refer to criminal offences that are motivated by hate towards an identifiable group. The incident may target race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor, such as profession or political beliefs. These types of offences are unique in that they not only affect those who may be specifically targeted by the perpetrator, but they often indirectly impact entire communities.

Currently, there are more than 30 countries in North America and Europe that recognize the distinctiveness of hate crimes and have consequently adopted hate crime legislation (McClintock and LeGendre, 2007b). In Canada, the crimes of advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred and mischief in relation to religious property have been incorporated into the Criminal Code as distinct hate crime offences. In addition, sentencing provisions allow for increased penalties when hate is determined to be an aggravating circumstance in any criminal offence.

There are two different, although complementary, data sources that can be used to measure hate crime in Canada: (1) police-reported data derived from the Hate Crime Supplemental Survey and the incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR2.2) Survey and, (2) victimization data collected by the General Social Survey (GSS).2 Police-reported surveys collect data on criminal incidents that come to the attention of police whereas victimization surveys collect information on respondents' personal accounts of criminal victimizations.

This report profiles information from both data sources in order to better understand the nature and extent of hate crime in Canada and to examine the characteristics of incidents, victims and persons accused of these types of offences. This report also discusses the psychological consequences of hate-motivated incidents, including the emotional impacts and victims' attitudes concerning their personal safety. Lastly, the incidence of hate crime in Canada is compared to that in the United States and Sweden.


This profile focuses primarily on 2006 data obtained from the Hate Crime Supplemental Survey, a special survey of hate crimes reported by police services across Canada. Funding for the Hate Crime Supplemental Survey was provided by the Department of Canadian Heritage in support of "Canada's Action Plan Against Racism" (CAPAR), a five-year project combining federal government programs and major initiatives to combat racism and promote inclusion in Canada.

In order to gain a more complete picture of the extent and nature of police-reported hate crime in Canada, data from the Hate Crime Supplemental Survey were combined with data obtained from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR 2.2) Survey. Together, these two surveys reflect hate crime data from police services covering 87% of the population of Canada.

Self-reported victimization data from the 2004 General Social Survey (GSS) are presented as a complementary source of information on hate crime. These data are collected from Canadians who reported having been victims of a crime that they perceived to have been motivated by hate.

Other examples of the topics explored through this series of profiles include youth crime and victimization, visible minorities and victimization, and Aboriginal peoples in Canada. This is a unique periodical, of great interest to those who plan, establish, administer and evaluate justice programs and projects, or anyone who has an interest in Canada's justice system.


  1. For the purposes of this report, the terms "hate-motivated crime" and "hate crime" are used interchangeably.
  2. For a detailed description of the surveys used in this report, see the section " Data Sources".

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