In what has become a recurring theme over the past several years, Jews were the single most targeted group for hate crimes in Canada.
According to Police-Reported Hate Crime, 2016, a document released by Statistics Canada on Nov. 28, Jews were the victims of 221 hate-motivated crimes, more than blacks (214) and those targeted because of their sexual orientation (176).
Altogether, police reported 1,409 hate crimes in 2016, 47 more than the year before. StatsCan pointed out that these represented less than 0.1 per cent of all crimes reported by police services.
“The three per cent increase in hate crimes was a result of more incidents targeting South Asians and Arabs or West Asians, the Jewish population, and people based on their sexual orientation. In contrast, hate crimes against Muslims and Catholics declined in 2016,” StatsCan stated.
Since comparable data became available in 2009, an average of 1,350 hate crime incidents have been reported annually. Last year, police reported about 1.9 million crimes of all kinds across the country.
For 2016, “the greatest increase in the absolute number of police-reported hate crimes was observed in Quebec, where incidents rose from 270 in 2015 to 327 in 2016,” StatsCan reported.
Violent hate crimes – such as assaults, threats and criminal harassment – increased by 16 per cent in 2016, rising from 487 in 2015 to 563 in 2016. The most violent hate crimes were those targeting people due to their sexual orientation.
According to police reports cited by StatsCan, Jews have been the single most targeted religious group for hate crimes since at least 2013. In 2016, the number of incidents involving Jews rose to 221, from 178 reported in 2015. In 2014, Jews were the victims of 213 crimes.
“Of the 221 incidents involving Jews in 2016, increases were seen in Ontario (+31), Quebec (+11) and Manitoba (+7),” according to the report.
Though Jews make up only about one per cent of the population of Canada, they experienced 16 per cent of all hate crimes.
At the same time that Jews were increasingly targeted for hate crimes, the number of incidents involving Catholics dropped in 2016.
The same held true for Muslims, as StatsCan noted that, “Police report fewer hate crimes targeting the Muslim population” in 2016.
That came despite claims that “Islamophobia” is growing in Canada and after Parliament passed Motion M-103, which condemned Islamophobia.
Muslims were the victims of 139 incidents in 2016 – 10 per cent of all hate crimes.
“While Canada remains one of the best countries in the world to be a minority, anti-Semitism and hate in all forms persist at the margins of society,” said Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “We are alarmed by the overall increase in hate crime, the increasingly violent nature of these crimes and the spike in incidents targeting the Jewish community.
“We continue to urge federal, provincial and municipal governments to take four practical steps to combat these disturbing trends: establish uniform guidelines for gathering and publishing hate crime and hate incident data; ensure police forces have dedicated hate crime units; create training programs to ensure more consistent and effective enforcement of hate speech laws; and launch new measures to monitor and counter the spread of hate propaganda, which often foreshadows violent radicalization.”
Avi Benlolo, CEO of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that “the Jewish community has always been the target of anti-Semitic and hateful attacks – often through vandalism, graffiti and hate speech – despite making up just over one per cent of the Canadian population.
“Just this past month, we have witnessed swastikas being drawn on numerous buildings and even in front of a Jewish school north of Toronto, neo-Nazi posters found on university campuses and the words ‘Heil Hitler’ drawn on a university chalkboard. With the increase in extremist activity on our streets, it is more important than ever that we commit to not allowing anti-Semitism to fester and not allow anti-Semitic groups to hide behind false narratives.”