2017 ONCJ 565

In 2017 ONCJ 565, a 17-year-old youth offender, Mr. G pleaded guilty to inciting hatred, mis-chief, uttering threats, possession of weapons dangerous to public peace and failing to comply with his youth sentence for spray painting hateful messages on six different places of worship, including the home of a female religious leader. His messages targeted Christians, Jewish, Muslim and Black people. When he was arrested, he was on probation for a previous weapons related offence and the police found several weapons in Mr. G’s possession. Mr. G had gained his views by reading content on the internet, and used the internet to plan his attack, and identify and locate the targeted religious buildings. He also had a YouTube account and other social media accounts that contained hateful messages and symbolism. His attacks had a significant impact on both the individuals who attended those places of worship and the larger community. One person stated, “the graffiti brings back all the horror and trauma I lived through [during the Holocaust].” Another wrote, “I felt anger, discomfort and a momentary loss of belonging to my own home. I was thinking how this message was damaging to the community sense of be-longing and insulting to my religion.” At the time of his arrest Mr. G had a strong identification with white supremacy, including having visible tattoos with racist symbolism on his body, maintaining irrational racist beliefs, and having no desire to seek counselling or other supports. The court dismissed the Crown’s application to sentence Mr. G as an adult in part because of the progress he had made while in youth detention such as attending counselling and engaging in educational and work programs.

In the sentencing decision, [2017] OJ No 7024, the court stated Mr. G’s actions were “so counter to the shared values of this community that it creates fear and anger, not only in those targeted, but in the community as a whole. The actions were intended by [Mr. G], apparently, to get others to share in his hatred, but they achieved the opposite effect. It brought the community together in outrage.”[1] Mr. G was sentenced to one year custodial sentence, one month of which to be served under community supervision, and a two year probation order with ancillary orders including a curfew, an order to attend counselling, a forfeiture of the weapons and spray paint used in the offence, a firearms prohibition, a DNA order, no contact orders with certain individuals, prohibition from being near the buildings he defaced or other mosques or synagogues, a weapons prohibition, a prohibition from accessing the internet without consent to provide all devices and passwords to the police, a prohibition from accessing websites where the predominant theme is anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, racist, or the promotion of white supremacy, and an order to write an essay on one Muslim, one Jewish and one Black Canadian. The judge in this case noted that Mr. G had gained his views solely from the internet and as such that the internet restrictions were necessary.

[1] At para 11.


Criminal Offence(s): Hate Propaganda