The Canadian Anti-Hate Network
The most recently released General Social Survey has found a startling disparity between the number of hate crimes reported by police and those self-reported by Canadians.
According to Statistics Canada, there were an estimated 223,000 self-reported hate crimes in Canada in 2019, with the highest proportion in Ontario (33%), Quebec (28%), and Alberta (14%). In the same period, law enforcement reported 1,951 hate crimes, meaning that less than 1% of perceived hate crimes in 2019 were captured in the police-reported statistics.
The 2014 General Social Survey, when compared to police-reported numbers, shows a similar phenomenon. 2019 and 2014 are the only years we have data for, because the GSS portion on Victimization is only repeated every 5 years.
This means that, in Canada, you’re more likely to be the victim of a hate crime than be injured in a motor vehicle accident (140,801 in 2019).
A total of 58% of hate incidents reported were violent in nature, while 25% were crimes against a “household” (eg. vandalism), and 17% involved theft.
More and more hate crimes are reaching the public’s attention. Just in the past week, vandals targeted a synagogue, a mosque, and a monument to Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims. In June, there was yet another string of attacks on women wearing hijab in Edmonton. The Ottawa 2SLGBTQ+ community is being targeted with repeated anti-trans postering campaigns.
The London, Ontario man who murdered four members of the Afzaal family in June with his truck and orphaned their nine-year-old son appeared in court on Wednesday. He’s charged with terrorism for the alleged hate crime.
Nearly 80% of hate incidents were not reported to the police. There’s a variety of reasons for this. Some communities fear further victimization by the police, or don’t think the police will help or solve the situation. Sometimes there’s a language barrier. Sometimes newer immigrants choose not to report because they feel it’s a small price to pay to be in Canada.
Occasionally police discourage reporting themselves, telling victims it’s a waste of time.
If the police take a report, it doesn’t mean it’ll be counted in the stats. At any point the police can decide they don’t consider a complaint to be a hate crime, or that they can’t or won’t fully pursue it. It gets subjective. The numbers the police report forward are only those that get their stamp of approval.
Police statistics could and should only be used as an indicator of possible trends, and to measure police performance on hate crime.
While the police data is flawed, it suggests a largely consistent year-over-year increase in hate crime with a large 37% spike in 2020, the most recently available data. This increase in in-person hate has occurred in tandem with an increase in online hate.
One in five Canadians has experienced online hate, with racialized persons more than three times more likely to report it, according to an Abacus Data poll commissioned by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. A report by GLAAD in the USA shows that nearly half of LGBTQ+ social media users have been exposed to hate.
Currently, 80% of Canadians support legislation that would require social media companies to be proactive and remove hate speech, including a majority of voters from all major parties.
Advocating For Change
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network has been warning for years that police-reported hate crime statistics do not measure hate in Canada, and that we need a real way to measure hate incidents so that we can reduce their number.
Today, we are calling on the leaders of all political parties to promise the electorate that their government would:
- Commit to an action plan to address the hate crime crisis
- Repeat the hate crime survey at least annually
- Support legislation requiring social media companies to remove hate; and
Set up a national fund for the survivors of hate-motivated attacks, as recommended by the National Council of Canadian Muslims
CAHN has applied for a grant under the Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiative to carry out biannual surveys on hate issues with recognized polling firms.
Click here to download the 2019 General Social Survey self-reported hate crime data.