The Four Fundamental Freedoms of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of Canada
Ignorance, pride, hatred and a disregard for the wellbeing of others in society. These are the seeds allowing the roots of activities promoting racial discrimination to sprout. Out of that, comes the growth of a fearful social epidemic, in which uneducated persons put their destructive thoughts and viewpoints into action. These criminal activities have been dubbed “Hate Crimes” and have plagues society as far back as one can remember. Hate Crimes, in varying degrees, can consist of something as minute as a derogatory comment, to something as serious as an act of murder. The common thread is that the offence was committed because of the victim’s ethnicity or race. Hate Crimes violate the human rights of society, and rob minorities of the dignity and respect they deserve. Everyone is entitled to live free from discrimination and harassment. However, this entitlement is infringed upon when Hate Crimes are committed. (Mandel, 11)


The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a controversial approach to protecting the rights of citizens. Section 2 outlines the fundamental rights and freedoms of all peoples in society, in an attempt to ensure the protection of all civil liberties. However, in many cases, these freedoms can act as loopholes, clearing offenders of the hate crimes they continue to commit, posing a threat to the livelihood of minority communities in Canada. (Dickinson,146)


2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: (a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.


The freedoms, as stated above serve as a controversial ‘gray area’, in which Section 2 of the Charter can be manipulated and ‘bent’ to serve as both offence and defense in the judicial reasoning of crimes based on racial prejudice.


Freedom of Association and Freedom of Assembly are two closely related rights. Both liberties, provided by Section 2 of the Charter, “protect the freedom of individuals to join together to form a union” and the right to gather together for the purpose of lobbying peacefully, in the hopes of reaching a common goal (Coombs, 27). In British Columbia’s past, Nazi Fundamentalist groups have attempted to gather publicly and demonstrate against ethnic integration, and spout their views on how the White (Aryan) race is superior to all other minorities. Much of this activity is not tolerated by authorities because “the good of the many outweighs the good of the few” (Martin, 39). Allowing such open promotion of hatred, infringes on every individual in society’s right to be free from discrimination and harassment. This behavior creates an environment oppressed with inequality, injustice and ignorance- not conducive to racial harmony in a multi-cultural society (Coombs, 17).


Freedom of conscience and religion gives ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Jewish peoples, the right to practice their beliefs- and customs associated with their values. Many “Jewish persons have been excluded from clubs and universities”, based on their race and religion (Dickinson, 93). The rights of Jews and other religious and racial minorities have been infringed upon throughout history. Hate Crimes have persecuted followers of religious and faith groups such as the Jews and Christians, worldwide. Holocaust deniers continue to live in the belief that there is a widespread Jewish conspiracy, and that the Jews were never oppressed. In British Columbia, Nazi fundamentalist views are rampant (Martin, 78). This legislation in the Charter is an attempt to prevent discriminatory conduct on the basis of one’s race and religion, contributing to a societal environment that is conducive to religious growth and freedom (Roland, 2).


Hate Crime Offenders take advantage of the Charter providing “the right to declare religious beliefs openly…without fear of hindrance or reprisal, and the right to manifest religious belief by worship and practice or by teaching and dissemination” (Dickinson, 142). Various groups that preach hatred, such as White Supremacists, claim that their ‘religion’ (a specific denomination of Christianity) deems that they, being superior to all minorities, should therefore act as a dominating force in society. Every individual is entitled to their personal belief system. However, beliefs and values rooted deeply in ignorance, selfish pride, and hate, will