ontario news watch

Virani says new measures meant to help prevent hate crimes will come with safeguards

OTTAWA — The federal justice minister says a series of steps would need to happen before a judge can restrict a person’s movement because of fears they could commit a hate crime.

Arif Virani says he listened to calls for Ottawa to better respond to a rise in hate crimes when drafting the new Online Harms Act, which includes a new peace bond provision.

The bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code so that someone who fears a person will commit a hate crime can ask a judge to impose conditions on that person.

That could include requiring them to wear an electronic monitoring device, stay at their residence, refrain from going to certain public places or stay away from the person seeking the order.

Virani says similar peace bonds can already be sought in cases involving domestic violence and defended the measure as a well-understood tool under Canadian criminal law.

The minister says an individual seeking such a measure would have to provide evidence to a court, and the any order must be approved by a provincial attorney general.

Those are “safeguards,” Virani said Thursday, that address concerns around the constitutionality of imposing restrictions on someone before any crime has been committed.

B’nai Brith Canada, a national Jewish advocacy organization, suggests the measure may be redundant.

But the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs says it considers the move an interesting idea.

The two groups, along with other Jewish organizations, have been calling on the government to do more to address hate crimes since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 29, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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