WHY ADDRESS HATE CRIME?

 

Under Canadian and Alberta law, individuals are protected from discrimination and unfair treatment. 

 

  • The Constitution of Canada provides that every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination and that everyone has the freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief, opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association and guarantees those rights and freedom`s equally to male and female persons. This is spelled out in Section 15 and Section 28 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  • The Canadian Human Rights Act provides that every individual should have an equal opportunity with other individuals to make the life that the individual is able and wishes to have, consistent with the duties and obligations of that individual as a member of society, and, in order to secure that opportunity, establishes the Canadian Human Rights Commission to redress any proscribed discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin or colour. 

  • In Alberta, a fundamental principle and matter of public policy is that all persons are equal in: dignity, rights and responsibilities without regard to race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income or family status; or sexual orientation See the Alberta Human Rights Act  and the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act.

 

 

A top priority for Albertans is to live, work and raise families in safe communities.

 

  • Hate crimes and incidents cause or threaten harm to individuals, their feelings of safety and security, and their property, which ultimately adversely affects quality of life. As such, it is imperative that hate crimes and incidents be addressed within crime prevention and law enforcement activities.

  • Numerous recent examples of hate crimes and incidents in Canada demonstrate the need for a coordinated and collaborative effort to address these issues. It has been estimated that the total number of hate crimes committed in nine urban centres across Canada was approximately 60,000 in 1994 but due to under-reporting, lack of common definitions and lack of consistent data collection; these numbers may reflect only the tip of the iceberg. Certainly, when we look at police reported hate crimes, the number is much lower. For example, the most recent Canada wide statistics available show 1473 hate crimes reported in 2009, and increase of 42% from previous years. Race or ethnicity continued to be the most common motivation, followed by religion and sexual orientation.

  • In a 1995 research overview, Julian Roberts at the University of Ottawa reported that the difficulty of tracking hate crime in Canada is due to under-reporting and variability in definitions used to classify hate-motivated incidents by police services in Canada. He recommended the development of a uniform definition and more attention to the collection of hate crime statistics and partnerships with police and communities to address hate crime. In 2011, these recommendations remain unrealized.

  • Victims of hate motivated activities become isolated, withdrawn and fearful. Moreover, it is the secondary victimization that reverberates through communities of targeted individuals as well as the broader community that demands specially crafted remedial responses. Hate crime is insidious because it not only strikes fear and terror in the victim; it also has a chilling effect on the whole targeted community. 

 

But the number of Hate Crimes has been increasing.

 

  • In Alberta, Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton police services have dedicated resources to hate crime and incidents and keep hate crime statistics. After the bombing of the World Trade Centre in 2001, Calgary hate crime statistics doubled in the month of September as members of our community who were presumed to be Arab or Muslim were victimized. This victimization and rise in incidents were reported by police services across Canada. And, in Calgary since 1997, hate crimes where the target was race or ethnicity have risen from 57 incidents to 97 incidents in 2002. In 2003 there were 34 reported hate crimes and 23 reported hate incidents in Edmonton. Hate units in Toronto and BC have reported a 22-25% increase in hate crimes from 1998-1999. B’nai Brith Canada’s League of Human Rights reported a a 60% increase in 2002 and a 27.2% increase in anti-Semitic incidents reported in 2003. They assert that the total number of incidents has been steadily increasing over the last decade. Without a standard definition and nation-wide reporting structures and protocols, we do not have a clear idea of the incidence of hate crime or activity in Canada, or its impact on communities.

  • The latest Alberta statistics available are from 2008. The Edmonton Police Service opened 155 files related to hate in 2008; 22 criminal, 23 non-criminal and 90 intelligence files. Calgary reported 68 hate crimes in 2008 with the largest target group that of 'race'.  Other jurisdictions were not reporting in this category at the time of the survey (see Alberta Hate Crime Report, 2008 at www.albertahatecrimes.ca).

  • Given recent wide-ranging federal, provincial and territorial security initiatives such as the Anti-Terrorism Act that can single out ethno-cultural groups and religious communities, there is a new and present urgency to address issues of hate and bias crime. The fear of "terrorism" can be a powerful catalyst to commit crimes of hate. Canada's Anti-terrorism Act of 2001 has provisions for stronger laws against hate crimes and propaganda. A coordinated partnership focused on ways to foster long-term, active dialogue between disparate police and justice authorities and community leaders is needed urgently.

  • The AHCC feels that increased public awareness and legal attention to this issue will result in increased vigilance and safety in our communities. By bringing together police, community and justice, relationships will be built that will allow increased understanding of the issues and their impact upon and across the three sectors, and create a commitment to work together. By building on existing relationships, inviting new participants from each sector to join intersectoral planning teams, and by having existing participants use their networks to garner more support, a highly integrated response to hate crime can be developed.

 

Alberta Hate Crimes Committee initiatives are made possible by the support of:

  • Alberta Justice and Solicitor General

  • Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund

  • Calgary Police Service

  • John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights

  • Coalitions Creating Equity

  • REACH Edmonton