Most criminal laws in Ontario are relatively understood by those in the province. However, the definition of a hate crime under Ontario criminal law and how people are charged for such crimes is often unknown or misunderstood. Police in London are investigating an incident that may fall into the category of a hate crime after a viral video caught the attention of many in the region.
The video shows one man blocking another from leaving the store. The person who posted the video claimed that the man who was blocking the door called the other an "illegal alien" and asked to see documentation of his right to be in Canada. The police were eventually called by the alleged victim.
The man who was blocked in the video has requested that charges not be laid, although the London Police Hate Crime Unit continues to investigate. The police response to these crimes follows a "victim-centered" policy, meaning that charges will not be laid without the alleged victim's agreement. The police are still investigating the context of the incident and are working to understand what happened beforehand.
According to Statistics Canada, 1,409 hate crimes were reported by police in 2016. This was a slight increase from the year prior, which may reflect either an increase in such crimes or an increase in reporting. Experts do point out that hate crimes are often unreported, or if reported, the victim chooses not to have charges laid. Those with questions about criminal law standards related to hate crimes, or who need help defending against such charges, should contact an Ontario lawyer.