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Race the top motivator for hate crimes in Canada: report

2008-06-10 09:31:03

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Race the top motivator for hate crimes in Canada: report

Calgary, Kingston, Ottawa have highest rate of reported incidents

Last Updated: Monday, June 9, 2008 | 2:10 PM ET Comments175Recommend67

Race and ethnicity still top the list of Canada's most common motivators of hate crimes, according to a Statistics Canada report released Monday that shows blacks as the main target.

The report was limited to data obtained from police cases from forces covering 87 per cent of Canada's population and additional information from victimization surveys.

Of the 892 hate crimes reported by police forces across the country in 2006, six in 10 were linked to race or ethnicity, the report says.

Nearly half of the 502 race-linked hate crimes targeted blacks, compared with 13 per cent, or 66 incidents, aimed at South Asians and 12 per cent, or 61 incidents, at Arabs and West Asians. Twenty-five police-recorded hate crimes targeted Caucasians and 24 were directed at Aboriginal people, with the remainder accounted for by categories titled multiple races and others.

More than half of the total hate crimes in 2006 were property offences such as mischief, but about one-third involved violence, including assaults, one homicide and two attempted murders.

While race remained the highest motivator, religion appeared to account for one-quarter of the police-reported hate crimes. Jewish-faith targets accounted for almost two-thirds of the incidents followed by Islamic targets at 21 per cent and Catholics with six per cent.

Muslim leader questions numbers

Some members of the Muslim community are questioning the numbers.

Mohamed Elmasry, national president of Canadian Islamic Congress, suggested the report doesn't reflect reality, saying a lack of resources led to the community neglecting to report every single hate crime.

"The Muslim community was under great stress since 9/11," he said, adding that it exhausted its resources trying to report all the crimes.

The report notes that Canada's religious composition changed in the years leading up to 2006, with the largest increases between 1991 and 2001 in the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist denominations.

"With such diversity, the potential arises for acts of discrimination or conflict between individuals and groups, some of which are recognized as hate crimes," the report says.

Other categories examined in the report included language, with four incidents aimed at French-speaking people and three at English speakers. Five police-reported incidents appeared to be linked to mental or physical disabilities, while another five were categorized as gender-related.

Teens make up highest number of accused

A large number of hate crimes, one out of 10, appeared to be motivated by sexual orientation, with most committed against homosexuals. That category had the highest quotient of violent crimes, with more than half of its 80 reported incidents involving violent acts.

"Incidents motivated by sexual orientation were more likely than other types of hate crime incidents to result in physical injury to victims," the report said, adding that most caused minor injuries.

Teens were the most likely age group to be accused of committing hate crimes, with 120 youth accused in 2006, according to police data.

"The rate of accused persons peaked among 12 to 17 year olds and gradually declined with age," the report summary said.

Unlike violent crime in general, it appeared that men tend to be targeted 2.5 times more than women when it comes to violent hate crimes.

Highest hate crime rate in Calgary

Canada enjoys a relatively low rate of hate crimes, accounting for less than one per cent of all criminal incidents reported by police. However, the 2004 General Social Survey, which asks individuals about their personal experiences and includes incidents not reported to police, counted 260,000 incidents of hate-motivated crime in the 12 months prior to the survey, or three per cent of all incidents.

The report released Monday notes that the disparity is "reflective of the perceptions of individuals and rely upon respondents to accurately interpret and report events," adding that not all incidents come to the attention of police as they are seen as minor.

Topping the cities for the highest rate of hate crimes was Calgary at 9.1 incidents per 100,000 people, followed by Kingston, Ont., (8.5), Ottawa (6.6), London, Ont., (5.9) and Toronto (5.5).

While most cities found race or ethnicity to be the most common motivator, Ottawa stood out with religion-based hate crimes reported most often.

The report notes, however, that data from local police services could be skewed since some have specialized hate crime units that may lead to more reporting of hate-motivated crimes.

"What may appear to be high rates of hate crime in certain areas may be a reflection of better reporting practices," the report says.

Corrections and Clarifications

  • The General Social Survey cited in the story was done in 2004, not 2006, as originally reported, and it counted 260,000 incidents of hate-motivated crime in the 12 months prior to the survey, not 260,000 incidents in 2006. June 9, 2008|7:10 p.m. ET

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