Hate Speech Laws in British Columbia

hate speech laws in British Columbia Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group

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Hate speech laws have been the topic of heated debate over the last decade across Canada. 

While some see hate speech laws as infringement on civil liberties, others support the government’s efforts to stop the spread of bigotry in its tracks. 

Whatever your opinion on the matter, the reality is that your speech is scrutinized in our country.

If you say the wrong thing, you might end up facing criminal charges.

hate speech laws in British Columbia Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group

It might sound scary to you. 

Could that tasteless joke you made at last year’s Christmas party get you into legal trouble?

What about that comment you made about a coworker that came out the wrong way?

Don’t fret too much. It’s clear that the vast majority of people will never face charges brought against them for inciting hatred or infringing on hate speech laws. 

That being said, it’s important to know what speech is protected by Canadian law and what isn’t. Especially since the definition of “hate speech” is not well-established and often up to interpretation by a judge. 

Maybe you’re a connoisseur of raunchy comedy, or maybe you hold opinions that others may deem questionable. It might be wise to brush up on hate speech laws here in British Columbia, Canada.

online hate speech laws in British Columbia Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group

Is hate speech a criminal offence in British Columbia?

Hate speech is indeed a criminal offence in British Columbia. 

The laws pertaining to hate speech fall under Canada’s Criminal Code Part VIII, Offences Against the Person and Reputation

Canada’s Criminal Code applies to all provinces, including British Columbia. 

Sections 318, 319(1), and 319(2), collectively titled “Hate Propaganda,” outline the specifics of hate speech:

Those who violate Canada’s hate speech laws face penalties ranging from a small fine all the way up to imprisonment.

Is there freedom of speech in Canada?

The answer to this question really depends on your own interpretation of the law. 

Freedom of expression in Canada is protected as a “fundamental freedom” by Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

However, the Charter also permits the government to enforce “reasonable” limits.

Hate speech, as expressed in Canada’s Criminal Code, is not protected by the Charter. Neither is obscenity and defamation.

All three of these types of speech can get you into legal trouble, especially hate speech.

Still, these laws are up to interpretation by a judge. If you are facing criminal charges due to a violation of hate speech laws, you must seek the help of a criminal defence lawyer.

An experienced criminal defence lawyer can help you navigate these complicated and interpretable laws. 

Rob Dhanu, co-founder of Dhanu Dhaliwal Law Group and a former Crown Prosecutor, has helped clients avoid a criminal record countless times, and can help you do the same.

While we never advocate for hatred of any kind, we know that there are a wide variety of opinions on what constitutes hate speech.

We also firmly believe in second chances, and often, the legal system does not. That’s why we’re here to fight for your rights. 

We provide the best legal defence possible using every tactic at our disposal. 

Give us a call today or contact us through our form to get a case evaluation and the best legal defence in British Columbia.

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