Police-reported hate-motivated crime rises sharply for second year in a row

Latest numbers by StatsCan, showing particularly high increase in 2021 of religiously motivated hate crimes, with biggest relative increase for Catholics, likely due to the discovery of unmarked graves. In terms of ethnicity motivated, the rise of anti East and SE Asian hate crimes during pandemic stands out:

The number of police-reported hate-motivated crimes in Canada increased by 27%, up from 2,646 incidents in 2020 to 3,360 in 2021. This follows a 36% increase in 2020. In total, the number of police-reported hate crimes rose 72% from 2019 to 2021. Higher numbers of hate-motivated crimes targeting religion (+67%; 884 incidents), sexual orientation (+64%; 423 incidents) and race or ethnicity (+6%; 1,723 incidents) accounted for the majority of the increase. All provinces and territories reported increases in the number of hate crimes in 2021, except for Yukon, where it remained the same.

Police data on hate crimes reflect only those incidents that come to the attention of police and that are subsequently classified as hate crimes. As a result, fluctuations in the number of reported incidents may be attributable to a true change in the volume of hate crimes, but they might also reflect changes in reporting by the public because of increased community outreach by police or heightened sensitivity after high-profile events. Reporting may also be influenced by language barriers, issues of trust or confidence in the police, or fear of further victimization or stigma.

Source: Police-reported hate-motivated crime rises sharply for second year in a row

Reactions:

The head of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation is calling for action to combat hate and more federal help for victims, as new statistics show that hate crimes in Canada rose by 27 per cent last year. 

Executive director Mohammed Hashim warned that unless action is taken to combat hate-motivated abuse, including online, it will continue to spread.

He said the “slew of hate” online is so prevalent it risks becoming normalized and those affected are changing their behaviour to deal with it, including by not reading social media comments.

“It is a firehose of hate that is growing, honestly, like a wildfire,” he said. “And unmitigated it will grow even further to a point where we will normalize being in a wildfire.

“That is because we have left this environment unchecked.”

Statistics Canada reported a dramatic increase in hate crimes in 2021. Last year, the number of hate-motivated crimes reported to the police rose to 3,360 incidents from 2,646 in 2020. This followed a 36 per cent rise in 2020. 

In total, the number of hate-motivated crimes recorded by the police has gone up 72 per cent since 2019, according to the agency. 

Four Muslim Canadians from the same family were killed in June last year when a man rammed a truck into them in London, Ont. Police have said the attack was motivated by Islamophobia.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the figures are “further evidence of the alarming and unacceptable rise of hate that marginalized communities have experienced in recent years.”

Mendicino said the federal government is taking action on a variety of fronts, led by new legislation to tackle the rise of hate speech and hate crimes.

“We will not rest until all Canadians feel safe in their communities,” he added. 

A report by the race relations foundation, published Tuesday, calls for greater federal help for victims of hate, many of whom do not qualify for financial compensation because their abuse does not count as a crime.

Hashim warned that “not supporting victims and leaving hate to proliferate freely disintegrates Canadian multiculturalism as a whole and a sense of collective belonging to this nation.”

Hate-motivated crimes targeting a person’s religious affiliation were up 67 per cent last year, according to Statistics Canada. Crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation were up 64 per cent year over year. Another 1,723 recorded incidents targeted a person’s race or ethnicity, a six per cent increase, and together these categories made up the majority of the overall rise.

Marvin Rotrand of B’nai Brith Canada said Jews were the No. 1 target of hate crimes aimed at religious minorities. 

“All Canadians should be worried about the alarming explosion of hate crimes witnessed in 2021,” Rotrand said. “Our community comprises 1.25 per cent of the Canadian population but were the victims of 56 per cent of hate crimes aimed at religious minorities. That is more than all other religious groups combined.”

Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said incidents targeting the Jewish community have risen by 47 per cent since 2020.

“Statistically, Canadian Jews were more than 10 times more likely than any other Canadian religious minority to report being the target of a hate crime,” he said.

All provinces and territories reported increases in the number of hate crimes in 2021, except for Yukon, where the numbers remained the same.

Hashim, who regularly tours the country speaking to victims of hate as well as community groups and police forces, said more focus must be put on victims. He said young women are facing huge amounts of abuse online, particularly young Black women. 

“Right now we talk a lot about hate crime statistics, how police are dealing with it or not dealing with it, being reported or not being reported,” he said. “What we are constantly missing is what is the effect on victims.”

The Department of Canadian Heritage is working on drafting an online hate bill to set up a framework to combat abuse online.

A previous anti-hate bill, introduced at the tail end of the last Parliament, died when the election was called. 

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez appointed an expert panel to make suggestions for a future bill, including faster takedown obligations on platforms, in particular over child pornography.

During a consultation by the federal government last year, some minority groups raised concerns about directly involving the police to combat hate speech online.

Hashim warned against “digital carding” and a mass trawl of content online. He acknowledged there is concern about whether police should be able to access all takedown materials for investigative purposes.

“I don’t think that is the proper way of doing online safety. There need to be checks and balances between how much information is accessible to the police. That is why we have warrants,” he said.

“Just creating open access for all police, for all takedown data, for all social media platforms is overkill in my opinion.” 

The report commissioned by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, and written by PricewaterhouseCoopers, said 80 per cent of hate crimes go unreported each year.

The report recommends Canada mirror Germany’s model for supporting victims of hate with millions of dollars of funding for community groups, which people who encounter hate “instinctively” reach out to, as well as a further victims fund. 

It says the government’s current compensation schemes exclude many victims of hate because few hate-motivated acts are designated as criminal.

The report also suggests the government establish an emergency response fund for communities hit by hate attacks on a large scale, as well as a central national support hub for victims.

Source: Race relations foundation urges more help for victims as hate crimes rise further

Historic levels of hate crimes are a threat to U.S. democracy, Lipstadt says

Of note:

The historic levels of hate crimes in the U.S. were devastatingly illustrated with a racist mass shooting last weekend at a supermarket that took 10 lives in a mostly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y. At the forefront of a global fight against hatred and racism is a special U.S. envoy, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt. Her mandate at the State Department is to monitor and combat antisemitism.

DEBORAH LIPSTADT: But anti-Semitism morphs into other hatred.

FADEL: And when she and I spoke, we discussed how ugly prejudices in one community can feed and grow hate in another.

LIPSTADT: The rising threat of anti-Semitism, the rising threat of racism, the rising degree of conspiratorial thinking, it’s not just a threat to the welfare of specific groups in this country – we saw it against the African American community in a tragic, tragic way this past week – but it’s a national security threat. It’s a threat to our communal welfare. And the need is immediate. And the need is great.

FADEL: Since the attack in Buffalo, we’ve been hearing a lot about this racist conspiracy, the replacement theory. And when I hear that, I think back to Charlottesville, nearly five years ago, when we watched neo-Nazis and white supremacists march with torches and chant, Jews will not replace us. Can you just explain this debunked and racist conspiracy and its danger?

LIPSTADT: Sure. There is a belief amongst people such as the killer in Buffalo and too many others like him. And what they argue is that there is a concerted effort, a plan, a scheme to replace, to destroy white Christian culture, to turn white Christians into a minority by flooding their countries with either people from Africa, Muslims – in this country, people from, quote-unquote, “south of the border” – and to render white Christians a minority. But there’s something else that motivates them or that is part of that theory. They look upon people of color as inferior to white Christians. There has to be someone behind them making this happen. They are the puppets. But who is the puppeteer? And some of them will immediately say, it is the Jew, because in their eyes, Jews are not white. Or they will look for someone whom they believe has the financial resources, the malicious smarts, the ability to be – though small in number, to do this thing, to make this thing happen and to do it secretly. And they will come upon the Jews.

FADEL: And this idea, this conspiracy that has no truth to it, it’s not fringe anymore. It doesn’t feel fringe anymore.

LIPSTADT: You’re absolutely correct. There is an increasing percentage of the American population who believe this is really happening and who think that America’s identity is under threat. And whether they read it online, whether they hear it in the media, whether they hear it from certain politicians – but they believe it. This young man who committed this horrendous, horrendous act in Buffalo, he was radicalized online. Now, maybe in his home, you know, he heard certain things that made him amenable to these ideas. But it’s out there. And people have to recognize that it’s this panoply of hatreds that constitute this threat to our democracy and threat to our country and to national security and foreign countries as well.

FADEL: Your mandate is global, and we’re talking about the danger here in the U.S. But when you look at the world, how prevalent is this right now in 2022?

LIPSTADT: It’s extremely prevalent. And my mandate, of course, is global. I’m based in the State Department. But it becomes increasingly difficult to draw a strict dividing line. Or take Buffalo – the killer in Buffalo, the murderer in Buffalo, looked at, as a model, the Christchurch shooter who murdered people in the mosques. He plagiarized what he had written. He also said he had been inspired by the shooter in Halle, Germany, who, two years ago, on Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish year – tried to attack a synagogue in which there were 70 or 80 worshippers. And but for a lock on the door, we would have had the largest massacre of Jews on German soil since the Holocaust. So it is a global threat, including in our own country.

FADEL: But I guess I struggle with – how do you combat an idea, whether true or not? – because you can’t imprison an idea out of existence. You can’t kill an idea out of existence. I mean, what do you do practically?

LIPSTADT: I’m a teacher. And I hope I can reach people. I’m not going to be able to change the minds of people who would pick up a gun, put themselves in full body armor and go to a supermarket on a weekend afternoon, where people are buying groceries and buying snacks to watch their nighttime movies or taking their kids for ice cream, and murder them. Those people I can’t reach. But I want to reach the people who don’t really understand this threat, the nature, the danger of these ideas and get them to understand and get them to understand something else as well. And this comes from my years of study and teaching and research about the Holocaust. The Nazis in Germany didn’t come into office in January, 1933, with a plan to murder Jews and saying, OK, we’re going to have gas chambers. Maybe some of them had that in the back of their mind, but that wasn’t what they were planning. They tested. They started first by burning books in May. Then they threw Jews out of civil service positions. And then, in 1935, they deprived them of their citizenship. And slowly but surely, in 1938, they had a nationwide destruction of Jewish property and killing of Jews. And they tested how far they can go. When can we be stopped? So you can’t wait until a Buffalo to try to stop it. You’ve got to stop it before.

FADEL: Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt is the special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. Thank you so much for your time.

Source: Historic levels of hate crimes are a threat to U.S. democracy, Lipstadt says

Hate-motivated crimes up 22 per cent annually in Toronto, police say

Unfortunately, not limited to Toronto:

Toronto police say there has been a 22 per cent increase in hate crimes in the city.

The force says there were 257 hate-motivated incidents in 2021, up from 210 such incidents the year before.

Police say the pandemic and geopolitical events are believed to be contributing factors in the increase.

The force says religion, ethnic or national origin were the dominant motivating factors in the incidents.

It says east and southeast Asian communities were the most targeted.

Toronto police say they are expanding their hate crime unit.

Police Chief James Ramer says hate crimes are increasing year over year.

“Hate crimes victimize not only the person, but also the communities they identify with and the negative effects can be long-lasting,” Ramer said in a written statement.

“We know hate crimes often go unreported and we are committed to working alongside our community partners to break down barriers and develop relationships so that more people will feel comfortable coming forward to report these crimes.”

East and southeast Asian communities were the predominant victims of assaults, followed by the Black community while Jewish and Black communities were the predominant groups targeted for mischief incidents, police said.

Black and LGBTQ communities were the dominant group for being threatened, the force said.

Source: Hate-motivated crimes up 22 per cent annually in Toronto, police say

Why aren’t more hate crime charges being laid in Canada? A Globe and Mail analysis examines police performance across the country

Good in-depth useful analysis. Money quotes:

A Globe and Mail analysis examined the performance of the country’s 13 largest municipal and regional forces, six of which had multiple officers dedicated full-time to solving hate crimes. The average rates at which individual forces solved a hate crime by charging someone – or “cleared” it, in police-speak – varied widely, ranging from six per cent to 28 per cent. But, in general, those forces that devoted more resources, such as full-time investigators and community liaison officers – like Montreal, which had an overall rate of 27 per cent through The Globe’s data period – tended to lay charges more often.

Those that did not fared the worst. Winnipeg, which has long had only a part-time co-ordinator reviewing their colleague’s hate crimes cases, ranked lowest in the Globe analysis at six per cent.

 2018 European Union study of the “life cycle” of hate-crimes cases in Sweden, England and Wales, Ireland, Latvia and the Czech Republic may hold clues for Canada as to how a suspect’s bias is often “filtered out” during the criminal justice process. The study found that this happened at the beginning, when police initially recorded the incident, but failed to tag the hate motivation behind it.

Researchers in England and Wales noted from interviews with prosecutors that many officers were well-versed in the nuances of racial or religious discrimination, but they often missed a suspect’s bias against other protected groups, such as those with disabilities. Prosecutors too often relied on the words uttered by a suspect as they committed a hate crime, and may not be as adept at proving this bias when prosecuting incidents where nothing was said at all.

“They talk about hate disappearing as you move through – and that’s clearly what is happening here [in Canada],” said Dr. Perry.

Source: Why aren’t more hate crime charges being laid in Canada? A Globe and Mail analysis examines police performance across the country

Police-reported hate crime, 2020

Although numbers have been out for some time, here is the StatCan analytical note:

In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, police reported 2,669 hate crimes in Canada, up 37% from 2019. This marks the largest number of police-reported hate crimes since comparable data became available in 2009. In 2020, police-reported hate crimes targeting race or ethnicity almost doubled (+80%) compared with a year earlier, accounting for the vast majority of the national increase in hate crimes.

Today, Statistics Canada released a detailed analysis in the Juristat article “Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2020” and the accompanying infographic “Infographic: Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2020.”

The pandemic further exposed and exacerbated issues related to community safety and discrimination in Canada, including hate crime. According to a crowdsourcing initiative conducted early in the pandemic, respondents belonging to visible minority groups were three times more likely to have perceived an increase in race-based harassment or attacks compared with the rest of the population (18% vs. 6%). This difference was most pronounced among Chinese (30%), Korean (27%), and Southeast Asian (19%) participants. Furthermore, people designated as visible minorities and Indigenous peoples considered their neighbourhoods to be less safe during the pandemic.

Chart 1 
Number of police-reported hate crimes, Canada, 2009 to 2020

Chart 1: Number of police-reported hate crimes, Canada, 2009 to 2020

Hate-motivated crime rises sharply, while other crime drops

While police-reported hate crimes increased sharply, the overall police-reported crime rate (excluding traffic offences) decreased by 10% from 2019 to 2020. In the first month and a half of the pandemic, in which initial lockdown restrictions were in place, the number of police-reported hate crimes and other crimes was lower compared with the same period in 2019. From May to December 2020, however, other crimes remained lower month to month compared with 2019 (-12%), while hate-motivated crimes increased substantially (+52%).

Chart 2 
Percentage change in number of police-reported hate-motivated crimes compared with other crimes, by month of reporting, Canada, 2019 to 2020

Chart 2: Percentage change in number of police-reported hate-motivated crimes compared with other crimes, by month of reporting, Canada, 2019 to 2020

As with other crimes, self-reported data provide further insight into hate-motivated crimes as a complement to police-reported data. While the number of hate crimes rose sharply in 2020, this may still represent an underestimation. Self-reported data show that the majority of criminal incidents perceived to be motivated by hate are not reported to police. Specifically, according to the 2019 General Social Survey (GSS) on Canadians’ Safety (Victimization), Canadians were the victims of over 223,000 criminal incidents that they perceived as being motivated by hate in the 12 months that preceded the survey (3% of self-reported incidents). Approximately one in five (22%) of these incidents were reported to the police.

Most provinces and two territories report increases in hate crimes

When population size is accounted for, the rate of police-reported hate crime in Canada from 2019 to 2020 rose 35% to 7.0 incidents per 100,000 population. The most notable increases in police-reported hate crime rates among the provinces were recorded in Nova Scotia (+70%; +23 incidents), British Columbia (+60%; +198 incidents), Saskatchewan (+60%; +20 incidents), Alberta (+39%; +84 incidents), and Ontario (+35%; +316 incidents). No increases were reported by Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories. The relatively small population counts and number of hate crimes in the territories typically translate to more unstable rates, making year-over-year comparisons less reliable.

The rate of hate crime was highest in British Columbia (10.1 incidents per 100,000 population), Ontario (7.9 incidents per 100,000 population) and Alberta (6.6 incidents per 100,000 population).

While the majority (84%) of police-reported hate crimes in Canada occurred in large urban centres or census metropolitan areas (CMAs), rates increased the same (+35%) in CMAs and non-CMAs, which include smaller cities, small towns or rural areas.

Chart 3 
Rate of police-reported hate crimes, by province, 2017 to 2020

Chart 3: Rate of police-reported hate crimes, by province, 2017 to 2020

Non-violent and violent hate crimes up in 2020

More than half (57%) of all hate crime incidents reported by police were non-violent in 2020, while the remaining 43% were violent. These proportions were similar to recent years. Both non-violent (+41%) and violent (+32%) hate crimes increased compared with 2019, contributing fairly equally to the overall increase in hate crime in 2020.

The increase in non-violent hate crime was largely the result of more incidents of general mischief (+33%). The rise in violent hate crime was the result of more incidents of several violations, including criminal harassment (+70%), major or aggravated (level 2 and 3) assault (+58%), common assault (+23%) and uttering threats (+11%).

As is typical of police-reported hate crime historically, mischief (general mischief and mischief towards property used primarily for worship or by an identifiable group) was the most common hate crime-related offence, accounting for almost half (44%) of all hate crime incidents.

For all violent hate crimes reported by police between 2011 and 2020 and for which a victim was identified, 66% of victims were men or boys, and 34% were women or girls. Relative to other hate crime motivations, incidents targeting the Muslim population (47%) were more likely to involve women and girls. This was also the case for hate crimes targeting the Indigenous population, where 44% of victims were women or girls.

Crimes motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity nearly double

The year 2020 was marked not only by the global pandemic, but also the rise of social movements seeking justice and racial and social equity. It is not possible to link police-reported hate crime incidents directly to particular events, but coverage and public discourse around particular issues can increase awareness and exacerbate or entice negative reactions from people who oppose the movement.

The number of police-reported hate crimes targeting race or ethnicity almost doubled (+80%) in 2020 compared with a year earlier, accounting for the vast majority of the national increase. Police reported 1,594 crimes motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity. Much of the rise in these types of hate crimes was the result of crimes targeting the Black population (+318 incidents or +92%), the East or Southeast Asian population (+202 incidents or +301%), the Indigenous population (+44 incidents or +152%), and the South Asian population (+38 incidents or +47%). In 2020, police reported the highest number of hate crimes targeting each of these population groups since comparable data became available.

Chart 4 
Number of police-reported hate crimes, by type of motivation, Canada, 2017 to 2020

Chart 4: Number of police-reported hate crimes, by type of motivation, Canada, 2017 to 2020

Despite an increase, hate crimes targeting Indigenous populations continue to account for relatively few police-reported hate crimes

The number of police-reported hate crimes targeting Indigenous people—First Nations people, Métis or Inuit—more than doubled from 29 in 2019 to 73 in 2020. Despite the increase, incidents against Indigenous people continued to account for a relatively small proportion (3%) of police-reported hate crimes. Self-reported data indicate that rates of violent victimization among Indigenous people were more than double that among non-Indigenous people, but also showed that Indigenous people have lower confidence in police, the justice system and other institutions than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Different degrees of confidence in the police or other institutions among different populations may affect the likelihood that a particular crime is reported to the police.

Hate crimes targeting religion down for the third year in a row

Following a peak in 2017, hate crimes targeting religion declined for the third year in a row, dropping 16% in 2020. Despite the recent declines, the 515 incidents targeting religion in 2020 remained higher than the number of incidents recorded annually prior to 2017. Among reported hate crimes targeting a religion in 2020, the Jewish and Muslim populations continued to be the most frequent targets, accounting for 62% and 16% of crimes against a religion, respectively.

These results mirror findings on self-reported discrimination from the 2019 GSS on Victimization. According to the GSS, the Jewish and Muslim populations were significantly more likely to report experiencing discrimination on the basis of their religion than most other religious affiliations.

The decrease in hate crimes targeting a religion was primarily because hate crimes targeting the Muslim population dropped by 55% in 2020, from 182 incidents to 82 incidents. Declines were mostly in Quebec (-50 incidents), Ontario (-27 incidents) and Alberta (-19 incidents).

In contrast, incidents targeting the Jewish population increased 5% in 2020, from 306 to 321 incidents. Among the provinces and territories, notable changes occurred in Ontario (+15 incidents), Quebec (+10 incidents) and Manitoba (-13 incidents).

Slight decrease in crimes motivated by hatred of a sexual orientation

According to the 2018 Survey of Safety in Public and Private Spaces, an estimated 1 million people in Canada reported their sexual orientation as lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, a sexual orientation on the asexual spectrum, or a sexual orientation that is not otherwise classified. Compared with heterosexual Canadians, this population was more likely to report having been violently victimized in their lifetime and were more likely to have experienced inappropriate behaviours in public and online. At the same time, they were less likely to report being physically assaulted to the police.

Although the number of police-reported hate crimes targeting sexual orientation was down by 2% in 2020, the 259 incidents were the second highest reported since comparable data have been available since 2009. About 8 in 10 (81%) of these crimes specifically targeted the gay and lesbian community, while the remainder targeted the bisexual orientation (2%) and other sexual orientations, such as asexual, pansexual or other non-heterosexual orientations (9%). An additional 7% were incidents where the targeted sexual orientation was reported as unknown.

As was the case in previous years, violent crimes accounted for almost 6 in 10 (58%) hate crimes targeting a sexual orientation. In comparison, one-fifth (20%) of hate crimes targeting religion and less than half (47%) of those targeting race or ethnicity were violent.

Source: Police-reported hate crime, 2020

COVID-19 related racism impacts sense of belonging, reporting incidents: Study

Of interest given lack of major difference between first and second generation:
The dramatic increase in reports to Vancouver police of hate crimes targeted at Asian-Canadians in 2020 shocked many.

Now, a new study delves into the psychological impact of experiencing COVID-19 and racism when it comes to the sense of belonging held by different generations of Chinese-Canadians. It finds these feelings could hinder the reporting of incidents just as policy-makers are grappling with how to better understand what’s happening.

Source: COVID-19 related racism impacts sense of belonging, reporting incidents: Study

Mohamad Fakih and Walied Soliman made legal history. Now it’s harder for haters to have their way

Good for them and all of us:

Mohamad Fakih owns a restaurant chain and is a big Liberal backer.

Walied Soliman heads a law firm and chairs Conservative campaigns.

In their political tastes, the restaurateur and the lawyer couldn’t be more different.

But both are Muslims.

Which was enough for them to be targeted for hateful libels accusing them of being closet terrorists. Personally harangued and persecuted for no reason beyond their faith, they were publicly vilified and personally victimized.

Yet both refused to play victim. Today, each is victorious.

In two separate libel cases, they made legal history last month. By calling their persecutors to account — and forcing the legal system to act — they have made it harder for haters to get away with screaming bloody murder in public.

Soliman won a precedent-setting $500,000 defamation award against social media agitator Daniel Bordman, who had publicly accused him of harbouring crypto-Islamist terrorist links and hiding “secret” antisemitism. The case against Bordman was so compelling that the ruling came in a summary judgment (without going to full trial due to the damning evidence).

Separately, Fakih finally saw justice done when a failed Mississauga mayoral candidate, Kevin Johnston, was sentenced to 18 months in jail for contempt of court — after failing to abide by the terms of a $2.5 million libel judgment against him two years ago (and continuing to spew venom).

What unites Soliman and Fakih, apart from their shared faith and charitable works, is that both paid a personal price in public harassment for their high profiles. And for the sin of being successful in their work.

At the intersection of religion and Islamophobia, power and privilege, they found themselves at an inflection point. They could turn the other cheek, and let others fight the battle against bigotry, or they could push back against their persecutors.

“The first instinct is to ignore it,” Soliman told me. “It’s very easy for privileged people — who have the ability to fight — to say it isn’t worth it.”

But as chair of the Norton Rose Fulbright Canada law firm, who has served as campaign chair for both the Ontario and federal Tories, Soliman knew he had no excuse to do nothing. The libels falsely claimed he had “connections to the Muslim Brotherhood” and wanted to impose Islamic “sharia law to … override Canadian law,” the judge noted.

“I hate being the victim, I hate that role,” Soliman said. “If we don’t fight those battles, then who is going to set the precedents?”

To silence his bilious antagonist, Soliman turned to a rival lawyer against whom he is often pitted in legal battles over mergers and acquisitions, but whose judgment he deeply respects: Jonathan Lisus not only agreed to take on the case, but insisted on doing it at no charge.

Let’s connect a few dots here — not conspiracies but connections: Lisus happens to be a Jewish lawyer who took on the case of Soliman, a Muslim lawyer, to shield him against the lies and libels of Bordman — a Jewish social media provocateur falsely accusing Soliman of antisemitism.

But there’s another link. Lisus also fought and won the libel action of Fakih, setting not one but two major precedents with cases that, combined, should give pause to all hate-mongers:

“If you are going to engage in defamatory hate speech, you can lose everything,” Soliman concludes.

Fakih came to Canada from war-torn Lebanon in 1996 (having covered that conflict at that very time as a foreign correspondent, I know where he’s coming from). He savoured the seeming paradise of his adopted country, and revelled in his spectacular success founding the Paramount Fine Foods chain.

But with paradise, and Paramount, came the bizarre torment from Johnston, the failed politician and provocateur (who placed second to Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, winning 13.5 per cent of the vote in 2017). Post-Lebanon, Fakih didn’t see it coming.

“I lived the Canadian dream, I always thought it would never happen in Canada,” he told me. “It was a shock, and it helped me grow up.”

Like many immigrants, Fakih wondered if he would somehow seem like an ungrateful troublemaker for pushing. But when he was called a child killer, with doctored pictures showing “blood on my face,” after hosting a Liberal party fundraiser for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2017, he had to protect his family — and his fellow Canadians — from the injustices and indignities.

“I wanted to show them I would not stay silent, that I would stand up to bullying … and live with dignity in front of my children,” Fakih explains. “Coming from a country like Lebanon, I am not a victim, it’s my duty to take them on.”

He won the multimillion-dollar defamation judgment against Johnston in 2019, but it was a hollow victory. Unsurprisingly, Johnston never paid up, but he shockingly refused to shut up — continuing to defame him publicly.

“I thought there would be accountability,” Fakih said. And so he went back to court a second time, this time to hold the justice system itself to account — and won another victory with the jail sentence, four years after he first came under attack.

Fakih’s story does not yet have a happy ending, for it is seemingly never-ending — the bigotry keeps coming back. Just as he had to deal with a defendant who refused to stop libeling him, so too Soliman has had to contend with one Islamophobic attack after another — most recently in last year’s federal Conservative leadership race (best leave his attacker nameless lest he profit from the attention).

Still, the legal precedents that Fakih and Soliman have established, each in their own way, will make it easier for those who follow to win in court. The personal examples they have set will also make it harder for haters to have their way.

But it is the resilience they have shown — by refusing to be victims after being victimized for so long — that may be their lasting legacy. Singled out for being Muslims, they both stood their ground without losing faith — either in their religion, or their country.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/politics/political-opinion/2021/11/01/mohamad-fakih-and-walied-soliman-made-legal-history-now-its-harder-for-haters-to-have-their-way.html

Building back better includes taking action against hatred

The how is the difficult part:

“Don’t read the comments . . . Don’t feed the trolls.” There’s a certain caricature of people who write nasty, hateful comments online. This election campaign, it seemed as if the people who express hate in comments sections and on social media decided to show up in real life, armed with nasty signs and throwing rocks at the incumbent prime minister. Many of these protesters were supporters of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).

Hate crimes are on the rise in Canada, including an increase in anti-Muslim hate arising from the policies and rhetoric of the post-9/11 world. We know hate crimes are the highest they’ve been since Statistics Canada started tracking them in 2009, that they are under-reported, and that only one per cent of reported hate crimes are investigated by police.

Some of this can be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic — for instance, a dramatic rise in anti-Asian hate crimes motivated by the virus’s origins in China. Researchers have also documented connections between the anti-vaxx movement and far-right groups. “The racist right that we monitor and the COVID conspiracy movement are inseparable from each other at this point,” Evan Balgord, the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, told the Canadian Press.

We know there is a problem. I want to talk about what we can do about it. Here are policy solutions that we should take seriously in this new climate of hate and far-right extremist activity.

Scrutinize and go after far-right and white supremacist movements with the same vigour as other terrorist groups

When I was an undergraduate student in the 2010s, it was normal for officers from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to infiltrate Muslim Student Associations as part of anti-terrorism efforts by the Canadian government. Some students even had CSIS officers come knocking on their doors. These activities were done in the name of “community outreach,” presumably to groups thought to be potential breeding grounds for terrorism.

Over the past two decades, Canada has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on anti-terrorism efforts through activities such as counter-terrorism capacity building, research funding and augmenting agencies such as CSIS and the Canada Border Services Agency, Stephanie Carvin, associate professor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, said in an interview.

So now that we know the demographics, whereabouts and identities of violent far-right extremists, where is the same level of policy action and government spending?

We need to dedicate adequate funding and personnel to root out violent extremism in far-right and white supremacist extremist groups. The federal government has acknowledged the threat of white supremacy and radicalization in Canada, and has funded research into far-right extremism and listed far-right and white supremacist groups as terrorist entities. But I want to see the same level of funding, urgency and legislation devoted to combatting white supremacist and far-right movements as we did other efforts to counter violent extremism. We urgently need governments to take action against hate — both harmful online activities and the violent hate crimes that have seen an uptick in recent years. The National Council of Canadian Muslims published a robust list of recommended legislation this summer, which provides clear direction for federal, provincial and municipal governments to better legislate against hate.

As part of pandemic recovery, find ways for people to connect with each other again

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Unfortunately, it’s hard to build political will to implement preventative policy solutions because the fruits of those investments often come many years later — when the government of the day is no longer in office.

We are emerging out of (and, strangely, simultaneously re-entering) a prolonged period of isolation and frustration. There are decades of research that show these conditions breed radicalization and extremist views. “Isolation exacerbates already existing grievances, leaving individuals vulnerable to extremism,” argued a May 2021 piece in openDemocracy. The Canadian government’s own 2018 National Strategy on Countering Radicalization to Violence (which focuses on groups such as groups such as Daesh and al-Qaeda but also references far-right extremism) acknowledged that a “desire for empowerment, belonging, [and] purpose” can help radicalize individuals.

There are policy implications for the isolation, frustration and anger we have all experienced over the last year and a half, and we see it in the increased polarization in our society. I want to see government fund programs that have people meaningfully engage with those they don’t agree with — Stanford University’s America in One Room project is a great example — as well as grassroots organizations that provide opportunities for individuals to connect with community. While Heritage Canada has funded anti-hate and anti-racism programs, these programs should be expanded in scope and funding as we emerge from this pandemic, especially given the tripling of popular support for the PPC in just two years.

It has only been a few months since four members of the Afzaal family were fatally run down by a truck in broad daylight in London, Ont. I wonder about the journey taken by the man accused of their murder. What happened to him in the years and months before this violent, Islamophobic crime? How many others are going through the same journey he did, and are on the cusp of expressing their hatred through violent means?

If we don’t take action fast enough, we will find out the hard way.

Source: https://policyresponse.ca/building-back-better-includes-taking-action-against-hatred/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=151021&utm_source=Policy+Response&utm_campaign=b0da1d1e1d-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_02_25_11_09_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e0a96a8e52-b0da1d1e1d-377030342

Douglas Todd: Is Vancouver really the ‘anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America?’

More discussion about the data and the challenges of country comparisons:

It’s hardly the reputation Vancouver, or any city, would want.

But in May some of the world’s largest media outlets dubbed Vancouver, which has about 700,000 residents of mixed ethnicities, the “anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Is Vancouver really the ‘anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America?’

Racism led to a rise in anti-Asian hate in the pandemic. What the community wants to see in Canada’s next leader

More anecdotal than systemic treatment of hate:

Canada has faced a rude awakening around the rise of anti-Asian racism. The COVID-19 pandemic brought along a surge of attacks on Asian-Canadian seniorsand vandalism of many Asian-Canadian businesses. As a result, the Chinese-Canadian community continues to silently live in fear, isolation and anger.

On the eve of the 44th Canadian federal election, they’re now speaking out about what they demand from the federal electoral candidates.

“Canada is a multicultural country with people from all over the world. Our politicians should strive to make it a vibrant nation where everyone is treated with respect and dignity,” Shiwei Mao, a Chinese-Canadian retiree, said in Mandarin, the only language she speaks besides her native Shanghainese. “But what did they do? It’s been almost two years of COVID-19 and our politicians have made a mess. Our society and economy has undergone profound disruptions, with chaos and racism everywhere!”

Mao has encountered racism herself. Early on in the pandemic, before mask mandates, she wore a face mask on public transit. “As soon as I sat down on the bus, the person next to me got up and changed seats. It made me feel very uncomfortable,” she said. “We Chinese understood the importance of wearing masks as the pandemic started in our country. But everyone else was looking at us strangely for wearing masks.”

In her late seventies and living with her husband in Scarborough, Mao is angry that the pandemic has become a political issue and has changed her idea of saftey. She believes that pandemic measures should have been led by experts and scientists instead of politicians who have “little knowledge and training in public health and epidemiology.”

As a direct result of COVID-19, Mao has not been able to go out much. “My husband, who is 86, is of reduced mobility and uses a wheelchair. Every time we want to go out, it’s a huge hassle, as we don’t have a car and use public transit,” she explained. “It’s extremely inconvenient for us that there is not enough public transit and that its schedule is inconsistent. I want more accessible public transit with a more regular and consistent schedule.”

Another issue is accessibility to health care. Though Mao and her husband were able to find a Chinese-Canadian doctor who gave them information on how to protect themselves, she is aware that not everyone in the community is so lucky. “It’s hard for a lot of Chinese people to find a doctor that speaks their particular dialect. I believe the percentage of doctors in Canada who are of certain cultural backgrounds should match the percentage of Canadians who are of that same background,” she said.

Amy Go, the president of the Chinese-Canadian National Council (CCNC), thinks that this pandemic has highlighted wealth disparities in our society. “The pandemic really highlights the differential access to services of racialized seniors and seniors who don’t speak English” she said. “On top of an already scarce amount of culturally adapted services, COVID-19 has disrupted the few services there were. Chinese-Canadian seniors who rely on home-care to get their daily basic needs met and who need regular health care have been hit extremely hard.”

Go has heard from many seniors who have struggled through the pandemic. “They were so afraid because of all the assaults. Many of them made heartbreaking comments such as ‘We moved to Canada in order to build a better life for our children. But now we are questioning that decision and hope our children won’t have to move again,” she said. “Seniors go out and see people treating them differently. They know it is wrong, but they don’t know what to say, as they don’t have the English skills to say anything.”

CCNC has submitted questions to the federal parties regarding these matters, but received no response. The Conservative party, the Liberal party, and the New Democratic Party did not return requests for interviews either.

Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy said that since its establishment in 2019, “the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat has since been leading a whole of government approach to tackling racism and discrimination in all of its forms in Canada, including anti-Asian racism.” In March they set up a task force to work with “government organizations and diverse communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic… including Canadians of Asian descent, to ensure that our response to COVID-19 is informed by lived experiences.”

But for some, the lack of politicial representation leads to a lack of understanding on how to best care for diverse populations which require a more targeted response.

“We need Chinese-Canadian politicians to represent us at the House of Commons so that our demands can be put forward” Ru Xie, another Scarborough resident who lives with her husband and her daughter said. “I believe that in a multicultural country like Canada, it is the federal government’s responsibility to intervene when there is racism.”

Though COVID-19 has largely kept Xie in her home due to safety concerns, she ventured out to participate in an anti-Asian racism protest after seeing reports of attacks circulating on WeChat, a Chinese social network.

Dr. Henry Yu, a professor of Asian-Canadian and Asian Migration studies, believes that this past year and a half has forced Canada to face its history of anti-Asian racism. “Our communities are looking for some commitment from all party leaders that’s not empty. Saying, ‘We’re not racist in Canada’ won’t cut it, because you say that doesn’t mean it’s true. Because this is happening in Canada,” he said. Dr. Yu strongly believes that Canada needs to take a hard look at itself and ask why is it that this nation scapegoats the Asian-Canadian population to solve structural issues rather than simply enact superficial measures.

“What needs to be implemented across the board is to collect more disaggregated data, especially in the context of COVID-19, about who’s being served in the mental health system, and what access is like for people who are linguistically diverse or marginalized and other ways,” said Cindy Quan, a researcher at the University of Victoria. She believes that part of the solution lies in getting disaggregated data on anti-Asian racism, because Canada historically has not been vigilant collecting data to address its issues with racism.

“We need greater accountability at various levels of government, tougher hate crimes and discrimination laws, better crafted legislation along those lines, and clear consequences for engaging in racist behaviour,” she said.

Source: Racism led to a rise in anti-Asian hate in the pandemic. What the community wants to see in Canada’s next leader