Political rhetoric driving spike in hate crimes, say observers

‘Trump effect’ may be spilling over into Canada

By Alexandra Mazur
iPolitics | November 18, 2016

An increase in highly charged political rhetoric is driving a spike in hate crimes in Canada, but officials aren’t doing a good enough job of tracking incidents, activists say.

“You’ve had one synagogue, one private home and another synagogue today, all vandalized by anti-Semitic vandals,” said longtime human rights activist Bernie Farber on Thursday. “That’s pretty significant. Something is going on.” ….

Amira Elghawaby, communications director for the National Council of Muslim Canadians, said she is watching with alarm as the number of incidents goes up.

“We were at 37 this time last year, and now we’re at 53,” he said.

The NCCM saw the number of hate incidents increase when the political rhetoric around niqabs heated up in the 2015 election campaign.

“A lot of them were targeting visibly Muslim women or the vandalizing of election signs for the NDP or the Liberals around Islam and Muslims,” said Elghawaby….

In Canada, officials don’t do a good enough job of tracking hate crimes, said Elghawaby.

“For reporting hate crimes, the lag in statistics is problematic. It’s better to have updated numbers of what’s happening out there, rather than have anecdotal evidence.”

The NCCM has collected its own data on anti-Muslim hate crimes in Canada since 2013. Farber agreed that updated hate crime data are necessary.

“Unless we’re able to track them properly and get a sense of history and gain some understanding through statistics in these kinds of events, we’re really operating kind of in a blind alley.”

. . .

According to Statistics Canada, two thirds of hate crimes go unreported. Elghawaby said Canadian Muslims are often reluctant to report such crimes.

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