In February 2017, mourners gather at an arena in Montreal for the funeral of three of the six victims of the massacre at the Grand Mosque of Quebec. (Catherine Legault/AFP)
By Amanda Coletta
December 4 2018
TORONTO — Reported hate crimes in Canada skyrocketed 47 percent last year, the highest number since comparable data first become available in 2009, according to recently released figures from Statistics Canada.
Law enforcement agencies reported that 2,073 hate crimes occurred in 2017, up from 1,409 in 2016, an increase fueled by incidents primarily taking place in Ontario and Quebec targeting Canada’s Jewish, Muslim and black populations.
Although it marked the fourth consecutive year that hate crimes have increased in the country, this uptick represented the largest year-on-year jump during that period.
“Ordinarily, I would give the caveat that any increase in crime statistics could be the result of better police recording and public reporting,” said Barbara Perry, a criminology professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology who studies hate crimes. “But this kind of leap means more is going on than just changes in recording behavior.”
She added that the rise is also reflected in an increase in media coverage spotlighting hate crimes as well as in figures kept by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and B’nai Brith Canada, which track anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic incidents, respectively.
Hate crimes targeting religious groups accounted for 41 percent of all hate crimes in Canada in 2017 and were up 83 percent from 2016, according to the data.
In Quebec, reported hate crimes against Muslims peaked in February 2017, the month after a 28-year-old man, allegedly animated by far-right extremist figures online, opened fire on a Quebec City mosque, killing six people and injuring 19 others.
“The shooting set the tone for the rest of the year,” said Leila Nasr, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims. “It was a year in which the Muslim community felt like it was increasingly targeted and like it was always watching its back.”