Blue Line


May 11, 2015  By Terry Wilson

1069 words – MR


Through the lens of a hate crime

by Terry Wilson

The deaths of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent are only the latest reminders that terrorism continues to be a persistent threat to the country and Canadian law enforcement.

The approach to combatting terrorism portrayed in the media may feel foreign but it doesn’t have to. The Criminal Code offers tools for police which are too often overlooked because of semantics.

This is due, in part, to the media and some police separating the terrorist from the hater or racist. By placing a new label on an old behavior, perception is diverted and often mislead.

There are significant similarities between a hater/racist and a terrorist. They both despise identifiable groups, advocate and condone using violence and will always use propaganda to recruit and inflict harm.
Quite simply, a terrorist is always a hater.

Haters can easily become terrorists so it is critical to pay close attention to their outward activities motivated by hate and react swiftly.

{Take a proactive approach

If a hater can become a terrorist, early intervention is key to combatting recruiting efforts, thereby reducing future violence and growth. One of the most powerful tools at your disposal is the current hate propaganda legislation under the Canadian Criminal Code.

In the majority of terrorism cases the suspect has targeted a person or section of the community because of their affiliation to an identifiable group. Catching activities in the “hating stage” can intercept and prevent potentially catastrophic terrorist acts in the future.

For example if a person promotes the destruction of an identifiable group (genocide) and posts this to a web site, then police should consider using the tools available under the hate propaganda offense –

Using these “offense sections” as a guide, police can enter into a hate crime/propaganda investigation and apply for judicial orders and search warrants to identify the suspect(s). If grounds are established, they could make arrests and lay charges. This will stop the immediate activity and strict release conditions can modify future behavior and associations.

Your next step is to remove the person’s offensive web site to stop it from recruiting and perpetuating hateful messages.

{Act on the information}

The new Anti-Terror once enacted, will give law enforcement additional tools to combat and eradicate terrorism in the early stages of recruitment. However, many are unaware that police already have these powers through <S. C320.1> of the Criminal Code. By looking at terrorism activities through the lens of the hater, police, with the attorney general’s consent, can shut down hate propaganda and terrorist recruiting web sites.

Looking at our previous example of a person promoting the destruction of an identifiable group (genocide) on a web site, after the charge and arrest, police can use <S. 320.1> to request a judge order the Internet Service Provider to:

  1. Shut down the web site;

  2. Identify to police who is administrating it; and

  3. Make a copy of the entire site

Although these sections are not used often, they should be.

{Being proactive is the key}

In today’s world, being proactive is the best defense to any criminal activity. We must look at every angle, motivation and method, both at hand and in the works, that will help you do your job and ultimately keep Canadians safe.

As an expert in hate crime, and after decades of investigating hate motivated crimes, I urge all law enforcement to begin to look at terrorism through the “hate lens” and learn and use these very powerful tools already in their arsenal.

When applied to the right offense and situation, they have the power to cause significant harm and disrupt the recruiting and propaganda of any hate motivated or terrorist group.


{Advocating Genocide}

  1. (1) Everyone who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

{Definition of “genocide”}

(2) In this section, “genocide” means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group, namely,

(a) killing members of the group; or

(b) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.


(3) No proceeding for an offence under this section shall be instituted without the consent of the Attorney General.

{Public Incitement of Hatred}

  1. (1) Everyone who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of:

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

{Willful Promotion of Hatred}

(2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, willfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of:

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

(4) In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation or mental or physical disability.

{Eliminate Hate Web Sites}

320.1 (1) If a judge is satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there is material that is hate propaganda within the meaning of subsection 320(8) or computer data within the meaning of subsection 342.1(2) that makes hate propaganda available, that is stored on and made available to the public through a computer system within the meaning of subsection 342.1(2) that is within the jurisdiction of the court, the judge may order the custodian of the computer system to:

(a) give an electronic copy of the material to the court;

(b) ensure that the material is no longer stored on and made available through the computer system; and

(c) provide the information necessary to identify and locate the person who posted the material.


Terry Wilson was a municipal representative to the RCMP’s BC Hate Crime Team. A designated expert in hate symbols, he lectured extensively on investigating hate crimes. Since retiring in April, Wilson conducts specialized training and consulting on hate crimes, human rights, gender-based violence and harassment. Visit or e-mail to learn more.

Print this page


Stories continue below