Town of Rocky Mountain House has updated its anti-racism policy to include symbols of hate.
The Anti-Racial Discrimination and Anti-Racism Policy expands on an existing anti-racism policy prohibits the wearing or displaying a symbol of hate by any elected official, staff or the public in a town facility, park and playground.
A section has been added to the policy which establishes that members of the public wearing or displaying a symbol of hate could be suspended from town facilities or have an incident referred to the police.
The bylaw defines a symbol of hate as a “symbol, emblem, flag or uniform used or has been used by an organization to promote or incite hatred and violence against any person or group that is distinguished by colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or mental or physical disability.”
In a report to council, staff note that “hate speech and hate crimes have become an increasing concern in recent years” as backed up by statistics and reporting in the media.
“These facts suggest that hatred continues to be an active force, and it seems that hatred remains a part of human fallibility that will not disappear any time soon.”
Canadian courts have recognized that reasonable limits can be placed on freedom of expression to deal with hate but that limits should be minimal and balanced by other measures protecting freedom of expression, says the report.
The report also acknowledges that determining what is a hate symbol can be difficult. Administration should be careful to analyze the situation before launching an investigation or considering enforcement.