Hate Motivated Incidents

The nature of hate-motivated incidents is continually evolving and the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) has taken steps to constantly improve our response to these incidents.

The OPS has zero tolerance for any incident of hate or bias, and we encourage residents to contact us so that we can assign officers to investigate. 

To contact the Hate and Bias Crime Unit, you can call (613) 236-1222, extension 5015. If you or someone you know has been a victim of what they perceive to be a hate-motivated incident, please report it by calling 613-236-1222, press 1 for English, then 2 to connect to the Communications Centre, or by filing a report online. Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 or at crimestoppers.ca

The OPS has a three-pronged approach to hate crimes: investigative, community outreach, and intelligence gathering. This approach leverages the expertise of many sections of the OPS, not just a single unit, to ensure the proper response is given to any reported incident.

This includes:

  • Investigative: Since January 2020, the expertise of investigating hate-motivated incidents rests primarily with the Ottawa Police Service Hate and Bias Crime Unit. Members of the Unit have a good working relationship with the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) and work with dedicated Crown Attorneys in Ottawa for hate-Motivated investigations. Some hate-motivated incidents are investigated by investigators from the Frontline Investigations Branches in East, West and Central Divisions.

  • Community Outreach: While an investigation is underway a community outreach effort is also made. This can include assistance to victims, a response by Community Police Officers, Diversity Race Relations/Community Development personnel, and often senior leadership. Support in terms of security planning, information about the investigation, and emotional support are also often offered. At all times, various units and personnel are working with the community to encourage reporting and explaining the process to community groups. 
  • Intelligence: Our Security Intelligence Section has the responsibility for monitoring trends and issues that can lead to local incidents of hate and extremism in Ottawa. The section has individual officers who specialize in hate issues. This group works with our law enforcement and security partners on a provincial, national and international level, to identify troubling trends and ensure our frontline and investigative units have the information they need on issues of hate and extremism. They are also instrumental in providing investigative support to our General Assignment Units for all reported cases.

We are constantly looking for ways to improve our response to hate-motivated incidents and to ensure community awareness. That includes raising awareness of our approach to hate crime investigations both externally and internally.

We want you to know that the OPS has zero tolerance for hate-motivated incidents, and will fully investigate any report that is filed. We appreciate your cooperation in helping to eliminate these types of incidents from our communities.


 REPORT: Hate Motivated Incidents 2019-2020

REPORT: Hate-motivated incidents 2020-2021

Criminal Code of Canada

There is no such thing as a Hate Crime in the Criminal Code of Canada (CCC). There are only three offences in the CCC that specifically pertain to hate, and they fall under the Hate-Propaganda section:

  1.  Section 318 - Advocating Genocide
  2.  Section 319 (1) - Public Incitement of Hatred
  3.  Section 319 (2) - Willful Promotion of Hatred

There are many other offences that the public often refers to as Hate Crimes; however in policing we refer to these as Hate-Motivated or Bias-Motivated Crime.

Investigations involving these types of crimes are complex and it’s important the public understands this difficult and sometimes confusing topic.

Hate/Bias Crime

A criminal offence committed against a person or property, that is perceived to be motivated and/or is motivated, in whole or in part by the suspect’s hate, bias or prejudice based on the victim’s real or perceived ancestry, race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion/creed, sex, age, mental or physical disability, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.

Hate Incident 

Hate incidents involve behaviours that, though motivated by hate, bias or prejudice against a victim’s real or perceived ancestry, race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion/creed, sex, age, mental or physical disability, gender identity or sexual orientation, are not criminal acts. 

Consultation with the Crown Attorney and Consent From the Attorney General

Police must balance a person’s constitutional rights with the CCC, which makes investigations very complicated.

Before laying any Hate-Motivated or Bias-Motivated criminal charges under the CCC, police are required to conduct an investigation, then turn the file over to the local Crown Attorney’s Office, and then get consent from the Attorney General’s Office to pursue the incident.

The following is a list of CCC that require consent before charges are laid:

  1. Section 318 - Advocating Genocide
  2. Section 319 (2) - Willful Promotion of Hatred

What is the difference between Hate-Motivated crime and any other crime?

If convicted of a criminal offence and it is proven to be motivated by hate or bias, higher penalties may be imposed by the judge during sentencing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my incident is not criminal?

Incidents such as workplace or school harassment, refusal of service by certain companies or landlords because of who you are should not be dismissed. You may have recourse. Human rights commissions and internal policies in institutions are often overlooked and can help you resolve issues before they become criminal in nature.

What about graffiti?

Graffiti can be considered a hate crime if it:

  • Targets any identifiable community group or organization;
  • Is found in or near a religious institution or an affiliated community recreation area; or
  • Is found on commercial property that is affiliated with a community group; or
  • Is found on personal property.

Find out about our Graffiti Management Project.

If the graffiti you are inquiring about does not meet the above-mentioned criteria, you may contact the  Graffiti Management Program with the City of Ottawa to have it reported or removed.

If the graffiti is found on a Bell pay phone, (this is not City property), you may call 1-800-268-5933 to report it. Bell will require the 10-digit phone number associated with that pay phone, which is marked on each individual pay phone.

If you witness any hate-motivated graffiti, we have recently amended our policy that anyone can report it online at ottawapolice.ca/onlinereporting. An officer will be assigned to investigate.

Why should I bother to report a hate motivated incident?

Victims are often reluctant to report because of:

  • Fear of re-victimization or retaliation;
  • Fear of having privacy compromised;
  • Fear of law enforcement and its response;
  • Cultural and language barriers; or
  • Fear of immigration services.

Reporting hate-motivated incidents is an important step in stopping the cycle of hatred and preventing others from being victimized. It is also important for police to be aware of hate crimes so that analysis can be done to ensure appropriate actions are taken, including putting into place the resources to make our community safer.

What happens when I talk to the police?

The call taker will ask you for basic information about yourself, such as your name, address, date of birth and best way to contact you. A report will be completed and forwarded to a police officer to follow up. If suspects can be identified, a resolution will be sought. This can vary from criminal charges to mediation depending on the offence and persons involved.

Police officers and civilian call takers are professionals. Your complaint will be taken seriously. Officers and civilians receive training on victim issues and in identifying hate crimes so they can help you.

Can my report be kept secret?

Information collected by the police is protected under freedom of information laws - your report is confidential. If charges are laid, some information becomes public. However, the investigator can discuss your concerns and explore options pertaining to resolution while balancing your needs for confidentiality.