According to Statistics Canada, hate crime is up 47 percent from last year in Toronto. To add context, law enforcement agencies reported 2,073 hate crime cases were reported in the year 2017, which is up from the 1,409 hate crime cases reported in 2016. Many of the current cases of hate crime have targeted Canada’s black, Muslim, and Jewish communities in Ontario and Toronto. Although hate crimes have been on a steady rise in the past few years, the jump from 2016 to 2017 was staggering. So what’s causing this uptick in hate crimes? Is there one source responsible for acts? Is it several?
Some have blamed the increase of hate crimes on the fact that the media is covering it more often. In almost a morbid way, the individuals who commit these hate crimes oftentimes become evil celebrities overnight (in one way or another.) It’s worth mentioning that many of the hate crimes listed were towards religious groups, with 41 percent of them occurring in 2017 (which is up 83 percent from the previous year.)
It was in February 2017 when hate crime peaked in Quebec against Muslims. An individual opened fire at a Quebec Mosque, leaving nineteen injured and six dead. Spokeswoman of the National Council of Canadian Muslims Leila Nasr stated that the shooting “set the tone” for how the rest of their year would be like, leaving Muslims looking over their backs and being on high alert at all times.
Hate Crime Surges
There was a large uptick of nonviolent and violent hate crimes in Canada, but the numbers significantly grew in instances such as public incitement of hatred, vandalism, and public mischief. Although public mischief sounds inferior to violence, it shouldn’t be ignored because it can cause serious impacts to the communities they intend to harm (even if it’s nonviolent.) For example: the effects of such nonviolent behavior can make a significant impact on children, especially if it’s their first experience encountering Islamophobia. Whenever a mosque is vandalized, it sends the message that the other community is not welcome.
Hate Crimes & Sexual Orientation
Hate crimes that have targeted sexual orientation are also on the rise, representing at least ten percent of all hate crime in 2017. A vast majority of these hate crime cases towards sexual orientation were violent. Although Statistics Canada noted that changes in how reports are received by police are partially responsible for these high numbers, many instances of hate crime go unreported. There’s also other contributing factors such as the growth of far-right groups that were once dormant in the past.
Hate Crimes & Polarization
Over the past few years, there has been an increased polarization not only in Canada, but throughout the world. Since intolerance and hate do not respect personal or political borders, the Statistics Canada report is way too stark to ignore. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had recently made an apology for Canada turning away the MS St. Louis back in 1939, which then led him to promise a plan that would make steps to combat such antisemitic attacks. He also noted that there could be no delay when it comes to fulfilling these commitments.
So as noted above, hate crimes have been on the rise in not only Canada, but throughout the world. In the United States, the FBI reported that there was a 17 percent uptick in hate crimes, meaning that we and our neighbours need to take action to combat hate crime and put such perpetrators in their place in the court of law.