Canada sees spike in hate crimes

Hate crimes against Jews in Canada rose by 63 percent in 2017, according to data presented by Statistics Canada.

Elad Benari ,

Police in Canada
Police in Canada

The number of hate crimes reported to police in Canada jumped by 47 percent in 2017 from the previous year, targeting mostly Muslim, Jewish or black people, Statistics Canada said Thursday, according to AFP.

"For the year, police reported 2,073 hate crimes, 664 more than in 2016," with most of the uptick in graffiti and vandalism, incitement of hatred, assaults, and uttering threats in Ontario and Quebec provinces, the agency said.

This followed steady but relatively small increases in previous years. Property crimes played the biggest role in the increase while violent hate crimes grew by 25 percent, it said.

These were motivated primarily by hatred of a race or ethnicity (878 crimes, up 32 percent), religion (842 crimes, up 83 percent), or sexual orientation (204 crimes, up 16 percent).

In particular, hate crimes against Muslims rose 151 percent to 349 in 2017 -- a year marked by a xenophobic young man's killing of six worshippers at a Quebec mosque.

Hate crimes against Jews rose as well by 63 percent to 360, while those targeting blacks increased by 50 percent to 321.

Overall hate crimes accounted for a mere 0.1 percent of the 1.9 million crimes reported to police that year, excluding highway traffic offenses, according to Statistics Canada.

Responding to the report, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) called on federal officials to take action.

“While most Canadians reject antisemitism and all forms of bigotry, we are alarmed to see yet another spike in hate crimes against the Jewish community and other groups in Canada. It is disturbing to think an anti-Semitic hate crime takes place every 24 hours in our country. History demonstrates that those who target Jews and other minorities pose a threat to society as a whole. All Canadians should be vigilant in standing against hate,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of CIJA.

“In the wake of this report, we are reiterating our call on the Government of Canada to take three key steps to combat hate. First, we are grateful that the Prime Minister announced he will enhance the Security Infrastructure Program. We urge the government to expand it to cover training costs, especially given that emergency training saved lives during the Pittsburgh synagogue attack. Second, we need a national strategy to combat online hate. Experience shows that vicious rhetoric online can fuel and foreshadow violence offline. Third, the federal government should strengthen the capacity of law enforcement to combat hate crime. This should include enhancing legal tools to deal with hate speech and supporting the creation of local hate crime units where they are lacking,” he added.

B’nai Brith Canada found in its annual audit this past April that there had been a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2017.

There were 752 incidents of harassment, vandalism and violence in 2017, the report found.

The vast majority of the incidents took place in Canada’s two largest provinces: Ontario recorded nearly half the total, with 808, while Quebec had 474. The rest were scattered among the nation’s eight other provinces.

Though Jews represent 3.8% of Toronto's population, 28% of all hate crimes in Toronto, which is Canada’s largest city, are targeted at the Jewish community, making it the city's most frequently targeted minority.

Toronto Police recently charged a 17-year-old boy in connection with an incident in which four Jewish teenagers were victimized in an alleged hate crime in Toronto’s North York district.