From enforcing the law to changing it: Justice grad stands against hate

Hate has no home here lawn sign with images of hands holding up hearts.

Learn more about the Master of Arts in Justice Studies. 


Stephen Camp was a cop for 30 years and nurtured a lifelong passion for protecting marginalized people. But he says it was his studies at Royal Roads University that helped him realize a goal he’d worked toward for close to two decades: inclusion of a standalone hate crime section in Canada’s Criminal Code.  

Bill 63, the Online Harms Act, which is going through second reading in Parliament, includes an amendment to the Criminal Code that would address hate crime and hate propaganda, and increase the maximum sentences for hate propaganda offences. 

Camp has been advocating for this inclusion since his first meeting with federal government officials 18 years ago, speaking with civil society groups and NGOs as well as other police officers, MPs and cabinet ministers.  

His campaign efforts eventually led him to produce a written report. He says of the report: “This analysis highlights the urgent need to enhance the Criminal Code of Canada to protect targeted communities from hate crime and ensure alignment with Canada’s core principles of democracy, freedom, diversity, pluralism, inclusion, equity, equality, dignity, safety, security, and human rights.”  

That report wouldn’t have been as strong, he says, without his time in RRU’s Master of Arts in Justice Studies program.  

Stephen Camp wearing a grey suit with a pink and grey striped tie.

“It was an extraordinary experience with Royal Roads,” says Camp, who’s now retired from the Edmonton Police Service and lives in Alberta. “The program allowed me to do a ton of research in the hate crime domain that I’ve always wanted to do and to build up arguments for frameworks or strategies to improve society’s response to hate crime.”  

He lauds his MAJS cohort and says, “The evidence-based skillset was really something I understood but not as well as I should until I came to Royal Roads.”  

Those skills combined with a purpose found in childhood in Nova Scotia, where he says he witnessed a great deal of racial strife, and continued throughout his policing career, when he developed educational content around hate crimes for other cops. 

“I’ve always had an interest in this area,” says Camp, who calls the potential of enshrining hate crimes in the Criminal Code both practical and symbolic. “It really affected me viscerally and I thought it was something that needed attention.  

“It’s like terrorism. It’s a message crime that’s being sent out and it’s meant to tell the marginalized group” — he includes people of different ethnicities, religions, gender identities and sexual orientations — “that they’re not wanted and they’re less than, and there’s more violence coming. It has an incredible effect on society. 

“All hate crimes do is curtail our freedoms… freedom of association, freedom of movement — you can’t do anything because you’re basically constrained to be with your own group and not be who you are. 

“I always thought no one deserves that kind of treatment.” 


What is a hate crime? 

From Bill 63: 

Offence motivated by hatred: Everyone who commits an offence under this Act or any other Act of Parliament, if the commission of the offence is motivated by hatred based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression, is guilty of an indictable offence… 


Learn more about the Master of Arts in Justice Studies.