Mr. Speaker, in Canada and elsewhere in the world, hate crimes are viewed as a serious social problem. It is felt that these crimes are different from other ones, because they can have a profound impact not only on victims, but also on the respective communities and on society.
The Criminal Code includes four offences that are considered to be hate crimes: advocating genocide, inciting public hatred, wilfully promoting hatred and mischief against religious property. Other offences, such as assault or threats, can also be considered hate crimes if it is determined that they were triggered by prejudice against an identifiable group. Hate crimes can target race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor. The sentencing provisions provide heavier sentences for these types of offences.
The most recent accurate data available in Canada were collected through a project led by Statistics Canada's Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. These data were recently published in a report entitled “Police-reported hate Crime in Canada, 2008”. According to this report, Canadian police services identified 1,036 hate-motivated crimes, up from 765 in 2007. This represents a 35% increase in the number of such offences. Part of the increase may be due to heightened public awareness of these types of incidents as well as improved reporting practices by police.
The report also points out that the vast majority of police-reported hate crimes resulted from one of three primary motivations: race or ethnicity, 55%; religion, 26%; and sexual orientation, 16%.
Increases were reported in 2008 for all three types of motivation. It is very surprising to note that the largest increase was reported for hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation, which more than doubled from 2007 to 2008.
Hate crimes motivated by religion increased by 53%, while those motivated by race or ethnicity increased by a lesser amount, that is 15%.
There were 205 hate crimes against Blacks in 2008, accounting for almost 4 in 10 racially-motivated incidents. This number was 30% higher than in 2007 but still lower than the number reported in 2006.
Anti-Semitic hate crimes accounted for nearly two-thirds of religiously-motivated incidents in 2008. Police reported 165 hate crimes against the Jewish faith, an increase of 42% from 2007.
Together, about 4 in 10 hate crimes in 2008 were reported by police in Toronto and Vancouver. After accounting for population differences, rates were higher in the smaller census metropolitan areas of London, Guelph, Kingston and Brantford followed by the larger areas of Vancouver, Hamilton and Kitchener.
About 6 in 10 persons accused of hate crime in 2008 were youth and young adults aged 12 to 22 years, higher than the proportion accused of crime in general. The number of persons accused of hate crime peaked among 17 and 18 year-olds.
We are aware of the serious impact of crimes against lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders. According to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, the majority of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation are violent.