Protecting Schools and Community Centres
Hate-fuelled criminals do not distinguish between synagogues, community centres and schools. Neither should the law.

Key Points

  • A 2015 Statistics Canada report concluded that Jewish Canadians are targeted for hate more than any other religious minority in Canada.
  • The Criminal Code should be amended to include a specific offence with specific penalties for those who perpetrate hate crimes against community institutions.
  • Hate-fuelled criminals do not distinguish between synagogues, community centres and schools. Neither should the law.
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The Jewish community continues to be one of Canada’s most frequent victims of hate crimes. Most recently, a June 2015 Statistics Canada report concluded that Jews are targeted for hate more than any other religious minority in Canada.

According to the report, 75% of the hate crimes targeting Jews fell under the category of “mischief”, de- fined in the Criminal Code as follows:

430. (1) Every one commits mischief who willfully (a) destroys or damages property;
(b) renders property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective;
(c) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property; or
(d) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.

Under current law, hate- or bias-motivated mischief targeting a religious institution, such as a synagogue, is a specific crime with serious penalties. However, this designation does not extend to other institutions, like schools and community centres, which are similarly targeted all too often.

CIJA has been consistently advocating for legislative changes to address this shortfall. A Private Member’s Bill introduced in the 39th Parliament passed second reading in the House but did not become law. To date, none of
the subsequent initiatives to accomplish this important goal, most recently Bill C-510 in the 41st Parliament, have been successful despite broad cross-party support.

Bill C-510 would have made it a specific criminal offence, punishable by up to ten years in prison, to commit bias-, prejudice-, or hate-motivated “mischief” targeting schools or other community institutions. This would effectively extend the criminal penalties in place for targeting synagogues to other community facilities.

Hate-fuelled criminals do not distinguish between synagogues, community centres and schools. Neither should the law. The Criminal Code should be amend- ed to include a specific offence and specific penalties for those who perpetrate hate crimes against community institutions.

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