The Department of Justice of Canada defines hate crimes as "crimes in which the offender is motivated by a characteristic of the victim that identifies the victim as a member of a group towards which the offender feels some animosity" (Julian V Roberts, 1995). By examining statistics it can be seen that laws relating to hate crimes are still needed to provide security to vulnerable groups. Hate crime laws inflict a harsher punishment for criminals who specifically target their victims and many do not believe that this is right. On the other hand individuals see hate crime laws as a violation of their freedom of speech rights. .
Hate crimes can consist of discrimination, public hate propaganda, or be as violent as assault and murder ("Understanding Hate/ Bias Crime and Incidents"). The laws do not punish opinions or speech but are based purely on criminal actions (An Introduction to Hate Crime Laws, n.d). Canadian agencies like the Federal Center for Justice and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have different definitions of what hate crimes are; however, both agree that hate crimes are criminal in nature and are motivated by bias ("Understanding Hate/ Bias Crime and Incidents", n.d). The Canadian government has outlined four specific offenses that are considered hate propaganda offences: advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, willingly promoting hatred, and mischief motivated by hate that relates to a religious party. Hate crimes are triggered by an individual's or group's race, national or ethnic origin, language, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability. In the Criminal Code of Canada, hate propaganda is under sections 318 and 319, and section 430 covers mischief. .
Hate crimes are meant to put down not only an individual but an entire group of people ("What is a Hate Crime?", 2011).