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Hate Crimes Community Working Group Terms of reference

Archived Backgrounder

Hate Crimes Community Working Group Terms of reference

Ministry of the Attorney General


Hate has a strong negative impact. It is used to humiliate, intimidate, disempower and frighten individuals and groups. The Ontario Government recognizes that hate propaganda and hate-motivated crimes can cause harm not only to the individuals and groups who are specifically targeted, but also to the broader community. On this basis, it wishes to support individuals, groups and communities who are the victims of such acts.

Definition of Hate Crime

Hate crimes are Criminal Code offences involving hate, such as the spreading of hate propaganda against an identifiable group (i.e. a group identified by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation). They also encompass other crimes where hate is a motivating factor. These crimes commonly involve acts of violence (e.g. assaults, threats) or property offences (e.g. vandalism, mischief and/or damage to property).

In the case of R. v. Keegstra, the Supreme Court of Canada defined hatred as:

emotion of an intense and extreme nature that is clearly associated with vilification and detestation. Hatred against identifiable groups thrives on insensitivity, bigotry and destruction of both the target group and of the values of our society. Hatred is an emotion that, if exercised against members of an identifiable group, implies that those individuals are to be despised, scorned, denied respect and made subject to ill-treatment on the basis of group affiliation.

The Criminal Code imposes a criminal sanction against advocating or promoting genocide against an identifiable group. It also prohibits communicating statements in any public place that incite hatred against an identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace, and it prohibits the wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group by communicating statements other than in private conversation.

There is a Criminal Code offence for committing mischief to religious property or cemeteries, where such acts are motivated by hatred against an identifiable group. Since 1995, the Code has also required a court to consider, as an aggravating element in sentencing an offender, evidence that an offence committed by that offender was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on the victim's race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any similar factor.

Committee Mandate and Logistics

Terms of Reference

The Hate Crimes Community Working Group will:

  1. Provide advice to the Attorney General and the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services on an overall strategy to address individual and community-based victimization and related issues arising from hate crimes.
  2. Provide advice on how current victim-based and related justice sector programming can be enhanced to improve services to victims of hate crimes.
  3. Identify gaps and barriers that impede the timely delivery of programs/services to victims of hate crimes.
  4. Explore best practices that exist provincially, nationally and internationally to combat hate crimes.
  5. Offer recommendations on how the Government might address the unique scope and impacts of community-based hate crimes.
  6. Offer recommendations on related topics that could either strengthen the quality of Government-funded hate crime programs or reduce hate crime victimization.


The Hate Crimes Community Working Group will prepare a report for consideration by the Attorney General and Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services outlining its research efforts. The report will address the options considered, recommendations for government action, and a high-level implementation plan. The Ministers will also ask the Working Group to reflect on ways to judge the effectiveness of hate crime reduction strategies.


The report will be submitted to the Attorney General and Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services within six months of the establishment of the Working Group.

Appointments and Scope of Authority

There will be approximately 12 members appointed to the Hate Crimes Community Working Group, including a Chair. Members may not send substitutes to meetings. The terms of appointments will not exceed six months, unless extended by the Government, and will not be renewable.

The Working Group will serve in an advisory capacity.


The Hate Crimes Community Working Group will represent the interests of the individuals, groups and communities affected by hate propaganda and hate-motivated crimes. Members will also, to the extent possible, reflect the diversity of Ontario's communities.

Reporting Relationships

The Chair of the Hate Crimes Community Working Group will liaise directly with a designated staff person in the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Meetings of the Working Group may be held in person or by any other effective means of communication. The Working Group will meet at least once a month during the term of its assignment.

Conflict of Interest

All potential members will be required to disclose any of their personal circumstances that may place, or be seen to place, the member in a real or potential conflict with the mandate of the Hate Crimes Community Working Group as a forum for dialogue and advice on hate crime issues. This obligation shall endure throughout the life of the engagement. Short-listed applicants will also be asked to participate in a standard police records check.


Working Group members will serve on a voluntary basis but will be reimbursed for reasonable expenses that they incur (e.g. travel, accommodation, meals, special needs) in accordance with provincial government guidelines.

Staff Support

Ministry officials will be available to provide guidance as requested, as well as administrative support.

Background Information

Additional Resources

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