A closer look at the rise in hate crimes in Canada

Good to see wide coverage of the latest hate crimes report. Of interest are the comments of NCCM on the increase in the number of hate crimes against Canadian Muslims (Muslim group urges Ottawa to speed up release of hate-crime statistics):

The National Council of Canadian Muslims connected the anti-Muslim bias to a backlash over two terror attacks in Paris in 2015. But the group also singled out Conservative Party election campaigning under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“The Canadian Muslim community bore the brunt of sinister political rhetoric surrounding the federal election, which painted Muslims as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, as well as being anti-woman,” council vice-chairman Khalid Elgazzar said at a press conference on Parliament Hill.

In an interview, Mr. Elgazzar referred to Conservative pitches in favour of “snitch lines” for so-called barbaric cultural practices, as well as a ban on face veils at citizenship ceremonies.

“Words matter and those words had an impact,” he said. “There was an immediate uptick in terms of incidents of hate being reported to us.”

The Statscan data indicate that hate crimes targeting Muslims in Canada rose to 159 incidents, a 61-per-cent spike over 2014. Jewish people remain the most targeted religious minority in Canada, though reported anti-Semitic incidents declined in 2015 over the previous year, the federal agency said.

Meanwhile, the percentage of women targeted by violent hate crimes increased because of a hike in the number of victimized women in the Jewish and Muslim communities. Over all, the sharpest rise in hate crimes was in Alberta, where officials have already noted an increase in total crime due to the province’s economic downturn.

Still, the true picture of hate in Canada is probably darker than the numbers released on Tuesday suggest. Statscan said the figures “likely undercounts” the real extent of hate crime in Canada because not all crimes are reported to police.

The two-year lag in releasing the figures is problematic at a time when Muslims feel the effects of turmoil linked to global radicalization, the presence of far-right groups in the West and the anti-Muslim rhetoric adopted by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Mr. Elgazzar’s organization has received an influx of complaints about anti-Muslim incidents this year, but they won’t be reflected by Statscan until 2019, he said. The data released on Tuesday are already two years old.

“You can’t build a case without evidence, and the evidence we have is stale,” he said. “It’s 2017 and I’ll tell you we’re having a pretty rough year. But we’re only going to hear about it in 2019.”

I suspect that international news events were a more important factor than the previous government’s playing identity politics (no excuse). Another possible factor, hard if not impossible to measure, is the degree to which Canadian Muslims are more willing to report hate crimes to the police, which has been an issue in the past. Higher numbers may reflect in part better Muslim-police relations.

In terms of timelines required to produce these reports, it would be nice, and should be possible, to have a one-year time lag rather than 18 months as at present, while ensuring the necessary data integrity and consistency.

One of the better overviews, with the relevant charts (just comparing the past two years compared to my eight year comparison The Daily — Police-reported hate crimes, 2015 (with annual 2008-15 data)):

The number of hate crimes in Canada jumped five per cent in 2015 from the year before, according to a Statistic Canada report released Tuesday.

The report looked at a variety of hate-crime statistics—from crime motivations and violations to the demographics of victims and the accused.

In total, 1,362 hate-crimes were reported across the country that year. To put that in perspective, there were nearly two million criminal incidents reported to police in the same year.

An increase in hate-crimes based on religion and race

Two major factor explain the increase—an uptick in religiously-based and race-based hate crimes. Nearly 50 per cent of all hate crimes reported in Canada in 2015 were motivated by hatred of race or ethnicity.

The largest increase in religiously-based hate crimes was against Muslims (an increase of 61 per cent to 159 incidents) and Catholics (a 57 per cent increase to 55 incidents). Jewish people faced the highest level of religiously motivated hate crimes (178 incidents) despite seeing a 16 per cent drop over the two years.

Hate crimes targeting Blacks were still the highest of all racially or ethnically motivated crimes in 2015 (224 incidents), though that was down slightly from the year before.

Hate crimes targeting sexual orientation fell by nine per cent between 2014 and 2015.

Violent hate crimes also increased

Violent hate crimes increased 15 per cent from 2014 to 2015, accounting for more than two-thirds all police-reported hate crimes. The most common types of violent hate-based crimes were assaults, which jumped13 per cent from the year before, and uttering threats, up 22 per cent.

Most victims younger than 35 years old

Nearly 60 per cent of hate crime victims in 2015 were younger than 35 years old, according to the report—a similar percentage as in 2014.

When it comes to victims of hate crimes motivated by religion, however, victims were younger than the year before—people under 35 accounted for nearly 60 per cent of victims in 2015, up from around two-thirds the year before.

FINAL---Characteristics-of-hate-crime-victims,-Canada,-2015-(%)

People accused of religious hate crimes are most likely to be under 18 years old

In more than 22 per cent of religious hate crime incidents, young people aged 12 to 17 years old were the perpetrators. Meanwhile people under the age of 24 were responsible for slightly more than half of hate crimes that targeted sexual orientation.

FINAL---age-distribution-of-persons-accused-of-hate-crimes-nationally,-2015--ungrouped

In its report, StatsCan suggested that the actual number of hate crimes could be considerably higher than what it found. It estimated that in two thirds of cases of hate crime, victims don’t file complaints with police. The agency also cautioned that the reporting rates can also vary by the targeted population—for example, some demographic groups might be more willing to report than others.

Source: A closer look at the rise in hate crimes in Canada – Macleans.ca

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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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