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

Will hate crimes make Canada a less attractive destination for immigrants?

Not convinced. Unlikely that among the various factors that influence destinations of immigrants that this will dominate the others. More important, even as a factor, this will be in relation to other countries, most of which have higher degrees of polarization on immigration and diversity issues:

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a reported intensification in racially motivated hate crimes against immigrants from East and Southeast Asia in many Western countries, including Canada. But do such xenophobic crimes affect migration to the countries in which they take place?

To answer this question, we first need to understand that, to many immigrants, the decision to migrate depends on a set of factors; some that push them to leave their home country, while others pull them to the host country.

The fact is that Canada has not always been a welcoming country – rather it has a well-documented history of racial discrimination against immigrants. In fact, most Asian immigrants in Canada are aware of racism, both covert and overt. With the popularization of information and communication technology, it is imaginable that many seeking to move to the country have been prepared by their families and friends already in Canada for discrimination, particularly in the job market, which is notorious for its systemic discrimination against professional credentials, work experience, language, culture and race of ethno-racial minority immigrants.

Of the top ten countries of birth of recent immigrants to Canada, seven are in Asia

Yet given these challenges, why do tens of thousands of immigrants from East and Southeast Asian countries still decide to immigrate to Canada every year?

Before 1967, when Canada introduced its points-based immigration system, immigrants to Canada were overwhelmingly from Europe. The point system welcomed young, educated and skilled immigrants, andshifted the major sources of immigrants to Canada from Europe to Asia. According to the 2016 census, among the top ten countries of birth of recent immigrants, seven are in Asia, namely the Philippines, India, China, Iran, Pakistan, Syria and South Korea. With a long history of migration to Canada, immigrants from these countries have also established a strong transnational social network that facilitates the migration of fellow friends and families and their settlement and integration in Canada.

A better future

Seeking a better economic future is believed to be a key force behind transnational migration, particularly from the Global South to the Global North. Political instability and oppression are other major factors driving people voluntarily and involuntarily to leave their countries, such as the case of Syria and Iran. Recently, the military suppression of democracy movements in Myanmar, the civil unrest in Thailand, China’s military pressure on Taiwan and the imposition of National Security Law on Hong Kong have caused many people to consider leaving their home countries.

Immigrants to Canada have long cited seeking better futures for their families as the number one reason why they decided to emigrate. Some were even willing to trade off economic loss for political stability. One example is the 380,000 Hong Kong immigrants who travelled to Canada in the 1980s and 1990s, amid the uncertainties surrounding the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong from Britain to China.

For many immigrants, Canada and other Western countries are attractive not only because of better economic opportunities but because of political stability, safety, lifestyle, education, as well as social and health protection, to name just a few reasons.

Canada has repeatedly claimed to be a global defender of human rights. Recently, the Canadian government apologized and compensated for racially motivated wrongdoings in the past, such as the head tax on Chinese immigrants and the internment of Japanese-Canadians. Hate crimes against Asians and any other ethno-racial groups simply jeopardize Canada’s global reputation and moral credibility.

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Canada’s immigration planning is increasingly divorced from the real impacts of COVID-19 – and undervalues ‘essential workers’

Meanwhile, as a country that relies on immigrants to replace the shrinking domestic supply of talents to our labour market, Canada is competing for high-skilled talents in demand globally. If it is to become an appealing destination, we must create a welcoming and inclusive environment for immigrants in Canada. Racism will certainly weaken this, and also make it more difficult to retain immigrants, particularly those who are highly skilled, and can choose to leave. In 2006, there were already 2.8 million Canadians living abroad, many of whom had originally been immigrants to Canada, including 300,000 who returned to, and still reside in, Hong Kong.

The intensification of anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of the pandemic may not reduce the number of immigrants who choose to move to Canada or to other Western democracies. But a socially unwelcoming society will have difficulties competing for and retaining global talents.

To make Canada a welcoming place, where immigrants can secure a better future for their families and contribute to society, all levels of government and the general public need to step up to combat all forms of racism against all minorities.

Source: Will hate crimes make Canada a less attractive destination for immigrants?

Alleged hate crimes rarely investigated by police, report claims

Of note:

Nearly a quarter million Canadians say they were victims of hate-motivated incidents during a single year, but police across the country investigated fewer than one per cent of these events as hate crimes, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

The federal agency’s latest General Social Survey results on victimization show approximately 223,000 incidents were reported in 2019 in which victims felt hatred was a motivating factor for the suspect. Of those illegal or nearly-criminal events, 130,000 were deemed violent by the person reporting them.

About 21 per cent of the total victims – 48,000 – said they called local police, but official statistics from that same year show Canadian officers only reported 1,946 criminal incidents motivated by hate nationwide.

Statscan collects this information on victims of hate crimes every five years within a 12-month period. Experts say, even though it is immediately dated upon its release, the statistics offer the best snapshot of the state of hate in Canada.

Academics and non-profits that support victims say the scale of incidents captured by the pre-pandemic survey, released last week, are a wake-up call to the massive harms being done to the country’s marginalized communities.

“We are in denial, it’s not just complacency – for a lot, it is outright denial that there’s a problem,” said Barbara Perry, director of Ontario Tech University’s Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism who began studying hate crimes in the country almost two decades ago.

This summer, Statistics Canada released crime data from last year that showed police across the country reported a record 2,669 hate crimes cases last year – a 37 per cent spike from the year prior – even as overall crime trended downward while society slowed down during the pandemic.

The relatively small number of cases flagged by police in 2019 as being motivated by hate also indicates the criminal justice system is doing a poor job of combatting hate crimes or other incidents where people are targeted over their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender, Dr. Perry said.

“That’s really disturbing, what’s happening is that the hate motivation is being funnelled out very early, police are not reporting or recording it as a hate crime or people have reported and it hasn’t been followed up,” Dr. Perry said.

Last year, Dr. Perry’s own study of hate crimes investigators she interviewed in Ontario showed they were often frustrated by a lack of institutional support to investigate these cases properly and many were unclear on what constitutes a hate crime, with their confusion exacerbated by the difficulty of determining the hate motivation in criminal acts.

The Criminal Code only identifies four actual hate crimes: three hate propaganda offences and mischief relating to religious or cultural sites. The rest of so-called hate crimes are incidents where a suspect is charged for a core crime and then prosecutors may argue hate motivation at the end of a trial to secure a heavier sentence.

The federal Liberal government recently told The Globe and Mail that it has no plans to update the code, as recommended by National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and policing experts, to add new provisions that would single out hate-motivated assault, murder, threats, and mischief to include specific new penalties for each infraction.

Statistics Canada said it could not comment on the survey because the bureaucracy is in caretaker mode during the federal election campaign. A spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, which includes the leaders of most police forces in the country, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Mustafa Farooq, CEO of NCCM, said his group has its own reporting line that he says logs at least one call a day about a violent threat or incident, said a major challenge is everyday people also have trouble separating a hate-motivated incident from a criminal act that meets the threshold of police securing a charge. That is why Canada needs to create a new system to better support these victims, whether a criminal offence is involved or not, he said.

But, Mr. Farooq said, even when people do report to their local police, the indifference they are often met with stops them from pursuing justice.

“When people come and tell their stories it is an often uphill battle to have police take those claims taken seriously,” he said, noting his organization frequently liaises with victims and officers.

Evan Balgord, the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a non-partisan non-profit, said the last General Social Survey on victimization in 2014 showed that people were slightly more likely to report these incidents to police, with 31 per cent of all hate-motivated incidents compared to 21 per cent in the new survey.

The new data shows victims attributed more than half the incidents (119,000) in part to a suspect being motivated by a hatred of their race or ethnicity, followed next by the language they were using (72,000) and then their sex (54,000). Multiple factors could be attributed by to a single incident, the agency said. The number of incidents were estimates rounded to the nearest thousand and based on a survey of 22,000 Canadians across the country, with roughly two-thirds choosing the option of responding online, the agency said.

More than half the incidents were reported in Ontario (74,000) and Quebec (62,000), followed by Alberta (31,000) and then British Columbia (29,000).

Irfan Chaudhry, director of MacEwan University’s office of Human Rights, Diversity and Equity in Edmonton, said one reason people don’t report a hate-motivated incident to police is that certain communities feel shame, don’t want to feel re-victimized when talking to the authorities and would rather deal with the aftermath, such as cleaning up offensive graffiti, on their own. More commonly, victims simply don’t feel officers can do anything, said Prof. Chaudhry, who founded and oversees Alberta’s Stop Hate independent reporting line for such incidents.

Mr. Balgord, whose group monitors, exposes and counters hate-promoting movements, groups and people, said Statistics Canada needs to do a much better job of tracking these hate incidents by doing this survey every year.

“The General Social Survey takes forever, it’s like a dinosaur – we’re halfway through 2021 and we’re just getting the 2019 results,” he said. “The hate ecosystem moves and shifts so quickly and we don’t even have pandemic-related hate crime data yet.”

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-alleged-hate-crimes-rarely-investigated-by-police-report-claims/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Morning%20Update&utm_content=2021-8-30_7&utm_term=Morning%20Update:%20Ukrainian%20troops%20rescue%20Canada-bound%20Afghans%20in%20daring%20operation&utm_campaign=newsletter&cu_id=%2BTx9qGuxCF9REU6kNldjGJtpVUGIVB3Y

Canada is in the midst of a ‘hate crime crisis.’ Why aren’t federal leaders talking about it?

To be fair, the NDP platform does while the Conservative platform does not (still waiting for the official Liberal and Green platforms, will go through the PPC platform in the next few days):

New data shows that in 2019 Canadians self-reported an estimated 223,000 incidents they felt were motivated by hate — an extreme contrast to the number of incidents reported to police that same year.

According to data pulled from Statistics Canada’s 2019 General Social Survey, around 130,000 of the self-reported incidents were deemed violent by the person reporting the event, while reports of non-violent acts, including vandalism and theft of household and personal property, accounted for around 94,000 incidents.

The self-reported numbers dwarf the 1,951 incidents that police investigated as hate crimes in 2019, with the discrepancy between the numbers raising questions about how much is being reported to officials and the magnitude of hate in Canada.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network, the organization that first requested the data from Statistics Canada and shared it with the Star, attributes the gap partly to communities which may be fearful of police, as well as a failure to properly label incidents as ones motivated by hate.

The organization has called on all federal parties to put in place an action plan to address what it calls the “hate crime crisis.”

And on the campaign trail itself, political leaders criss-crossing the country and candidates canvassing the streets aren’t immune.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who encountered racist remarks during the 2019 campaign and faced them again in recent days, said Wednesday that the “climate of hate” in Canada makes people feel like they don’t belong.

“I don’t focus on myself when it comes to those moments. But I do think about the rise of hate that a lot of people have to face. I think about kids growing up with a rise in anti-Asian hate,” said Singh, sharing the story of a Chinese constituent who warned her mother to stop going on evening walks.

“I’m worried about people from the Muslim community, who are worried because of the attacks on Muslims,” he said. “I’m worried about anti-Semitism. We’ve seen attacks on synagogues, attacking and targeting Jewish people.”

On Thursday, Liberal candidate François-Philippe Champagne tweeted several images of his campaign vehicle and election signs after they were vandalized that morning. Two swastikas were spray-painted on one sign, which features images of Champagne and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

Fellow Liberal candidate Anthony Housefather also shared a photo of his defaced election signs earlier this week.

“Each day of the last week, Nazi symbols have been drawn on my posters. This antisemitism will not stop me but it can easily deter good people from entering politics,” Housefather tweeted, denouncing similar acts of vandalism that have appeared on other candidates’ campaign materials.

Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council of Muslim Canadians (NCCM), called the incidents “atrocious” and “disturbing”.

But he also questioned why political leaders have yet to materially address Canada’s “influx of hate” during their election events.

“It’s incredibly odd to me that this has not become a major question on the campaign trail,” he said.

In the wake of the London, Ont. attack that left four members of a Muslim family dead, the national council released more than 60 policy recommendations aimed at tackling hate, including the creation of a hate crime accountability unit in each province that would improve the way incidents are processed, investigated and monitored.

Source: Canada is in the midst of a ‘hate crime crisis.’ Why aren’t federal leaders talking about it?

Ottawa declines overhaul of hate crime offences

Agree with B’nai Brith that enforcement is the bigger issue, along with the discomfort or reluctance of some to report incidents to the police:

Ottawa says existing Criminal Code offences are adequate to confront a recent surge in hate-fuelled incidents, but the federal government has recommitted to passing a law aimed at improving hate crime prosecutions.

After recent online summits on antisemitism and Islamophobia, the Department of Justice said this week that it wants to ensure hatred is better defined but otherwise has no plans to overhaul the way hate crimes are dealt with in the courts. Suspects are most often charged for a core crime and then prosecutors may argue hate motivation at the end of a trial to secure a heavier sentence.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) released a list of 35 federal recommendations including a call for Ottawa to introduce new provisions in the code to single out hate-motivated assault, murder, threats, and mischief that would include specific new penalties for each infraction. The existing code only singles out three hate propaganda offences and mischief relating to religious or cultural sites.

Nadia Hasan, chief operating officer of the NCCM, said doing this would create a much stronger deterrent for potential criminals as hate crimes have risen in recent years.

“I’m not saying by any means that this alone would eradicate hate crimes for Canada, but it would send a strong message” that hate crimes deserve their own penalties, said Dr. Hasan. Her group also wants the code changed to offer restorative justice measures.

Dr. Hassan said creating a new class of hate crimes would also help victims get better service from front line investigators, some of whom are unfamiliar with Canada’s laws around hate-motivated attacks. The NCCM helped more than 70 hate crimes victims across the country seek justice last year and some of those victims have told her group that police in some jurisdictions routinely discouraged them from filing a hate-related complaint by telling them “it’s not worth it.”

“It happens often enough where we have to fight back and make sure the police are listening and really advocate for the victim,” said Dr. Hasan.

But Ian McLeod, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said in an e-mailed statement that Canadians are well served by a justice system that prosecutes the existing hate crime offences and then, with other hate-related crimes, has penalties amplified when motivation is factored in at sentencing. However, he said Ottawa is committed to updating the Criminal Code throughBill C-36 to define hate speech as “content that expresses detestation or vilification of a person or group,” including over the Internet, where these comments are common.

Bill C-36, which targeted public hate speech by individuals, did not pass into law after being introduced by the Liberal government at the end of the parliamentary session. If an election is called this summer, as is widely expected, the legislation will no longer move forward.

Mr. McLeod’s statement said Ottawa is also tackling online hate through a proposal to create a new regime to police hateful content on social media sites.

In June, MPs unanimously voted to call the emergency Islamophobia conference following the murder of three generations of a London, Ont., Muslim family by a driver now facing terrorism charges, with the government also announcing the summit on antisemitism.

Statistics Canada also recently released its annual report on crime data showing 2020 brought a 10 per cent overall decrease in cases reported by police across the country, but departments reported a record 2,669 hate crimes cases – a 37 per cent spike from the year prior. Police and criminologists acknowledge hate crimes in general go vastly unreported.

Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, said his organization would rather see the current laws enforced “more diligently” before any new amendments are legislated.

“One of the serious frustrations from a group like B’nai Brith, which is dealing with the victims of hate crimes on a daily basis, is that we don’t see so many of these prosecutions across the country,” he said.

Mohammed Hashim, executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, a Crown corporation, said many different solutions are needed as Canada’s entire criminal justice system is ill-suited to address the scourge of hate crimes.

“It starts from underreporting; to not having confidence in the police dealing with hate crimes adequately; to the number of charges that are laid, or the lack thereof; and the level of seriousness that both attorney generals and prosecutors treat hate-motivated crimes,” he said.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-ottawa-declines-overhaul-of-hate-crime-offences/

A ‘safe space for racists’: antisemitism report criticises social media giants

Sigh….

There has been a serious and systemic failure to tackle antisemitism across the five biggest social media platforms, resulting in a “safe space for racists”, according to a new report.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok failed to act on 84% of posts spreading anti-Jewish hatred and propaganda reported via the platforms’ official complaints system.

Researchers from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a UK/US non-profit organisation, flagged hundreds of antisemitic posts over a six-week period earlier this year. The posts, including Nazi, neo-Nazi and white supremacist content, received up to 7.3 million impressions.

Although each of the 714 posts clearly violated the platforms’ policies, fewer than one in six were removed or had the associated accounts deleted after being pointed out to moderators.

The report found that the platforms are particularly poor at acting on antisemitic conspiracy theories, including tropes about “Jewish puppeteers”, the Rothschild family and George Soros, as well as misinformation connecting Jewish people to the pandemic. Holocaust denial was also often left unchecked, with 80% of posts denying or downplaying the murder of 6 million Jews receiving no enforcement action whatsoever.

Facebook was the worst offender, acting on just 10.9% of posts, despite introducing tougher guidelines on antisemitic content last year. In November 2020, the company updated its hate speech policy to ban content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.

However, a post promoting a viral article that claimed the Holocaust was a hoax accompanied by a falsified image of the gates of Auschwitz with a white supremacist meme was not removed after researchers reported it to moderators. Instead, it was labelled as false information, which CCHD say contributed to it reaching hundreds of thousands of users. Statistics from Facebook’s own analytics tool show the article received nearly a quarter of a million likes, shares and comments across the platform.

Twitter also showed a poor rate of enforcement action, removing just 11% of posts or accounts and failing to act on hashtags such as #holohoax (often used by Holocaust deniers) or #JewWorldOrder (used to promote anti-Jewish global conspiracies). Instagram also failed to act on antisemitic hashtags, as well as videos inciting violence towards Jewish people.

YouTube acted on 21% of reported posts, while Instagram and TikTok on around 18%. On TikTok, an app popular with teenagers, antisemitism frequently takes the form of racist abuse sent directly to Jewish users as comments on their videos.

The report, entitled Failure to Protect, found that the platform did not act in three out of four cases of antisemitic comments sent to Jewish users. When TikTok did act, it more frequently removed individual comments instead of banning the users who sent them, barring accounts that sent direct antisemitic abuse in just 5% of cases.

Forty-one videos identified by researchers as containing hateful content, which have racked up a total of 3.5m views over an average of six years, remain on YouTube.

The report recommends financial penalties to incentivise better moderation, with improved training and support. Platforms should also remove groups dedicated to antisemitism and ban accounts that send racist abuse directly to users.

Imran Ahmed, CEO of CCDH, said the research showed that online abuse is not about algorithms or automation, as the tech companies allowed “bigots to keep their accounts open and their hate to remain online”, even after alerting human moderators.

He said that media, which he described as “how we connect as a society”, has become a “safe space for racists” to normalise “hateful rhetoric without fear of consequences”. “This is why social media is increasingly unsafe for Jewish people, just as it is becoming for women, Black people, Muslims, LGBT people and many other groups,” he added.

Ahmed said the test of the government’s online safety bill, first drafted in 2019 and introduced to parliament in May, is whether platforms can be made to enforce their own rules or face consequences themselves.

“While we have made progress in fighting antisemitism on Facebook, our work is never done,” said Dani Lever, a Facebook spokesperson. Lever told the New York Times that the prevalence of hate speech on the platform was decreasing, and she said that “given the alarming rise in antisemitism around the world, we have and will continue to take significant action through our policies”.

A Twitter spokesperson said the company condemned antisemitism and was working to make the platform a safer place for online engagement. “We recognise that there’s more to do, and we’ll continue to listen and integrate stakeholders’ feedback in these ongoing efforts,” the spokesperson said.

TikTok said in a statement that it condemns antisemitism and does not tolerate hate speech, and proactively removes accounts and content that violate its policies. “We are adamant about continually improving how we protect our community,” the company said.

YouTube said in a statement that it had “made significant progress” in removing hate speech over the last few years. “This work is ongoing and we appreciate this feedback,” said a YouTube spokesperson.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, did not respond to a request for comment before publication.

Source: A ‘safe space for racists’: antisemitism report criticises social media giants

Hate Crimes Breakdown 2008-20

The latest breakdowns, including 2020, with almost a doubling of race and ethnicity-related hate crimes, particularly for East Asians, quadrupling and Blacks, almost doubling from 2019 to 2020.

Religiously-related hate crimes continue downward trend for all groups save Jews.

DOJ Declined to Prosecute 82 Percent of Hate Crimes Between 2005-2019

Don’t believe we have national stats in Canada but reader feedback welcome:

The Justice Department declined to prosecute 82% of hate crime suspects between 2005 and 2019, according to a department reportreleased this week.

State of play: Prosecutors declined to prosecute the 1,548 cases for different reasons, but more than 55% of the decisions came down to insufficient evidence, which means that a case could not be proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • The second most cited reason to decline cases was for the prioritization of federal resources.
  • Prosecutors conducted investigations into 1,878 suspects in potential hate crime cases, but only 17% were prosecuted. Another 1% of cases were dismissed by U.S. magistrates.

Yes, but: The report also said that of those crimes that were reported, the conviction rate increased from 83% between 2005 and 2009 to 94% between 2015 and 2019. About 85% of defendants convicted were sent to prison for an average term of 7.5 years.

The big picture: The report comes weeks after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a six-step plan to combat hate crimes in the country. He said he would direct the Justice Department to increase resources and coordination to state, local and tribal partners.

  • The plan would also designate an officer to facilitate the expedited review of hate crimes, as well as increase the department’s language access capabilities to make it easier to report these types of crimes.

Worth noting: Reports of hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community have increased during the pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate received more than 6,600 self-reported incidents from the beginning of the pandemic until March this year.

  • President Biden in May signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would direct the Justice Department to expedite the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes.

Source: DOJ Declined to Prosecute 82 Percent of Hate Crimes Between 2005-2019