Type of document: Prosecution Directive
Effective date: November 14, 2017

Hate propaganda and hate motivated offences involve the intentional selection of a victim based on the offender’s prejudice toward a “group” characteristic of the victim such as race, ethnic background, religion, gender, physical or mental disability or sexual orientation.

There is a substantial public interest in the prosecution of these offences. These offences are particularly serious because of their potentially devastating impact not only on the individuals involved, but also on the target group, other vulnerable groups and the community as a whole. The impact of hate propaganda and hate motivated offences include the following:

  • the psychological and emotional harm caused by hate crimes on the identity and feelings of self-worth of the victim can be severe and long-lasting
  • the group members of a target group may feel vulnerable to future victimization
  • negative impact on other vulnerable groups that share minority status or identify with the targeted group, especially if the hate crime is based on an ideology or doctrine that covers a number of the groups that live within the community
  • they can be socially divisive and undermine our collective identity. In a multicultural society like Canada, where all groups strive to live together in harmony and equality, hate crime is an anathema to our shared values. Any occurrence of a hate crime can lead to the erosion of fundamental Canadian values.

Hate propaganda offences

The offences of advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, and wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group are characterized as hate propaganda offences that are prohibited by the Criminal Code. An identifiable group is defined as “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or mental or physical disability.”

The Attorney General’s consent is required to initiate a prosecution for the offence of wilful promotion of hatred and the offence of advocating genocide.

Formal and informal requests by the police for the initiation of these proceedings must be brought immediately to the attention of the Assistant Deputy Attorney General -Criminal Law Division.

Once the consent of the Attorney General is received the hate propaganda proceedings are initiated. If new information comes to light the Prosecutor should apply the charge screening standard to the proceedings. If the Prosecutor concludes that the charge screening standard is no longer met, the Prosecutor must notify the Assistant Deputy Attorney General -Criminal Law Division in order to seek approval prior to withdrawing or staying the prosecution. Allegations of hate propaganda offences are not eligible for diversion.

Reference should be made to the Attorney General Consent and Delegation Directive.

Seizure and forfeiture of hate propaganda

In order to inhibit distribution of hate propaganda, the Criminal Code allows for the seizure and forfeiture of hate publications intended for public sale or distribution. In both circumstances, the Attorney General’s consent is required to commence proceedings for the seizure and/or forfeiture of hate propaganda.

The Criminal Code authorizes the court to issue a warrant to seize copies of publications where reasonable grounds exist for believing that the publication is hate propaganda and that copies are kept for sale or distribution. If the court is satisfied that the publication constitutes hate propaganda, the court shall order the forfeiture of the offending material.

The Criminal Code also provides a procedure for removing hate propaganda from the Internet. If the court is satisfied that the material or data is available to the public and is hate propaganda, the court may order the material or data be deleted and the electronic copy destroyed.

Reference should be made to the Criminal Asset Forfeiture Directive.

Hate motivated offences

Attorney General consent is not required where the offence is motivated by hate or where hate is an aggravating factor.

Mischief to property

The Criminal Code specifically prohibits mischief to religious property where the mischief is motivated by bias, prejudice or hate. There is no requirement for the Attorney General’s consent to initiate proceedings with this offence.


Generally, diversion is not an appropriate resolution for a crime motivated by hate. In exceptional circumstances, however, the issuance of an apology and/or rehabilitative considerations may be a just resolution. Where such exceptional circumstances exist, the Prosecutor must seek the prior approval from the Crown Attorney or designate.


The Criminal Code directs courts to consider evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression or any other similar factor as aggravating factors on sentence. If there is evidence that the motivation for a crime was hate, bias or prejudice, the Prosecutor should tender that evidence during the sentencing phase.