The Canadian government must do more to combat hate crimes in Canada: Fogal, Godoy and Ansong

Surprising – or perhaps not – that this commentary by Shimon Fogel of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Carlos A. Godoy of Ga’ava, a Quebec-based LGBTQ organization and Tobin Ansong is of the Ghanaian Canadian Association of Ontario is virtually silent on hate directed at Muslim Canadians.

They propose strengthened measures against hate crimes: two general in nature that apply to all groups, one specific to radicalization, targeted largely at Muslim Canadians.

While I have no general issue with measures that focus on specific communities where needed (as is the case with respect to Al-Qaeda/ISIS inspired radicalization), it would have been a stronger statement had it more explicitly acknowledged anti-Muslim sentiment and had been a joint statement with a Canadian Muslim group:

In this same vein, federal officials should consider three more initiatives that could have significant impact in countering hate crime.

First, every MP should support Bill C-305 proposed by Nepean MP Chandra Arya. Currently, vandalism targeting a religious site—such as a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or cemetery—is a specific offence with substantial penalties. But this designation does not apply to schools or community centres associated with an identifiable minority group. C-305 is an essential, common sense bill to close this clear gap in the Criminal Code.

Second, there is a need for greater federal leadership to aid local police in enforcing hate crime provisions of the Criminal Code by offering more training, uniform guidelines, and resources. This is especially crucial given that this is an issue far beyond Canada’s largest cities. In 2013, the four most frequently affected cities per capita were Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Moncton, and Peterborough. Federal authorities can play a central role in identifying and sharing best practices. British Columbia, for example, is in many ways a model for a successful approach, with police agencies maintaining dedicated hate crime units providing experience and systems required to respond effectively to such incidents.

Third, as the federal government implements its counter-radicalization program, we must recognize the link between radicalization and hateful views toward minorities, whether they manifest as antisemitism, homophobia, or racism. There is ample research and tragic evidence—whether at a kosher supermarket in Paris, or an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, or a church in Charleston—these forms of hatred often go together with violent extremism.

Identifying early warning signs, in the form of hate and propaganda against these communities, must be an integral part of the government’s overall anti-terrorism strategy. Likewise, countering these hateful ideologies is essential in reclaiming a psychologically vulnerable person from the path of radicalization.

While these suggestions are relatively modest, taken together, they would represent a significant step forward in the effort to ensure Canada remains a safe home for all minorities.

Source: The Canadian government must do more to combat hate crimes in Canada – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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