Which Canadians are Most Likely to be the Victims of Hate Crimes?

Police Line Do Not Cross

In the run-up to the federal election in Canada, the niqab issue — whether a woman should be required to remove the face-covering garment when swearing the citizenship oath — has taken centre stage. Along with an alarming flurry of alleged hate crimes committed against Muslims in the past few months, there have been claims of a rising tide of Islamophobia in the country. But when accounting for population, a closer look at the numbers suggests a rather different narrative: despite the real and worrisome rise in hate crimes toward Muslims, two other minority groups are far more likely — by an order of magnitude — to be the victim of a hate crime.

Jewish Canadians, remarkably, are more than 10 times as likely to be the victim of a hate crime than Muslim Canadians, while black Canadians are more than 14 times as likely to be victimized than the average Canadian (and three times as likely as the next highest race or ethnicity tracked by StatsCan). By any reasonable reading of the data, these are profoundly concerning figures.

What is a hate crime?

StatsCan, which collects hate crime data from the country’s police services, defines a hate crime as “a criminal offence committed against a person or property, where there is evidence that the offence was motivated by hate” based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other protected classes. These crimes come in a variety of forms, with approximately 60% of reported hate crimes in Canada being non-violent crimes such as mischief or public incitement of hatred, while the remaining hate crimes are violent, which include offenses like assault, uttering threats, and criminal harassment.

The numbers

We looked at the number of hate crimes reported over the three-year period 2011-2013 (the most recent data available), and calculated how likely it is that people of various groups will be victimized. This per capita approach helps understand the dangers that any individual in a particular group may face.

Looking across all Canadians, there were a modest 6.0 hate crime incidents per 100K people over this three-year period. This rate is low enough that most folks will fortunately never experience a crime of this kind, and is approximately the probability of being struck by lightning over a lifetime. But what about particular religious minorities? Muslim Canadians, for instance, suffered 15.1 incidents per 100K people in this time period. This jump indeed seems rather worrisome, particularly in the context of the niqab debate and the recent spate of incidents, until you consider that Jewish Canadians were the victims of 185.4 incidents per 100K people. That’s more than 12x higher, and makes Jewish Canadians far and away the most targeted minority religious group in Canada per capita. When restricting only to violent offenses, the ratio is still high, but narrows somewhat to a factor 6x higher.

B’nai Brith Canada, which tracks antisemitic incidents in the country, sees no letdown in the pace of such crimes, noting in a statement that “2014 was the worst year that we’ve recorded since we began [tracking] in 1982, with a 28% increase over the numbers from 2013.” While Europe has increasingly become a hotspot for virulent antisemitism, the data suggests that Canada is clearly not immune. “This means that the Jewish community is not only disproportionately targeted, but also that antisemitism is a growing problem in Canada.”

How about racial and ethnic minorities? Black Canadians suffered 86.5 incidents of hate crime per 100K residents over this time period, at least threefold more than all other racial and ethnic groups that StatsCan tracks, including Arabs/West Asians (27.6 per 100K), South Asians (10.6 per 100K), and Aboriginals (6.6 per 100K). And while the United States continues a painful and fraught debate over race relations and hate crime, in Canada this discussion appears altogether muted, particularly with respect to black Canadians. In light of these numbers, perhaps this needs to change.

Methodology

Statistics Canada’s hate crime data from 2013 is available here. Hate crime data from 2011 and 2012 was provided to The 10 and 3 by Statistics Canada via email. Population data was taken from the 2011 census.

To be sure, Statistics Canada’s data under reports the frequency of hate crimes; not all hate crimes are reported to police, and not all crimes that are motivated by hate are properly classified by the police (or victims) as such. Moreover, certain populations may be more or less willing to report hate crimes to the police, although there is no evidence to suggest whether and how much the data for any particular group is skewed by this issue. Finally, it’s important to remember that while some instances of hate crimes may target an individual (an assault, for example), other instances may target an entire group (hate graffiti).

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  • Bruce McAndless-Davis

    But where is the analysis of hate crimes by gender & sexual orientation? Is it true that transgender women of colour are the most vulnerable in our society?

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  • Pepper Wingate

    There are more Jewish than Black victims of Hate crimes. Interesting that they didn’t point that out. There are far more Jewish than Moslem victims. But we are concerned about Islamophobia. It seems that anti-semitism is a very real problem, still. Before someone decides to split hairs with me, anti-Jewish hatred = anti-semitism.

    • Wilhelm Wackenroder

      I’m a bit late to this discussion, just having stumbled across this site. I’m as far from being an expert on statistics as one can imagine, but I think you’re misinterpreting the data. The statistics listed refer to incidence of hate crimes, not total numbers. To get an idea of the total number of Jewish vs Black victims for comparative purposes you would have to apply the incidence for each group to its population numbers. There are about 1 million Blacks in Canada. At 86.5 incidents per 100,000 people, that yields a total of 865 hate crimes reported against Blacks between 2011-2013. There are about 325,000 Jews in Canada; at 185.4 incidents per 1000, 000 people, the total number of hate crimes against Jews reported would be 603. So, there are more Black than Jewish victims in total, but a higher incidence rate amongst Jews, in fact much higher than all the other groups that were reported. It may seem like splitting hairs, but one should be objective and accurate when making observations.

      The rest of your comments are spot on.

      • Wilhelm Wackenroder

        I don’t know how old you are and, assuming you are woman, it would be ungentlemanly of me to ask, but that would be a stunning accomplishment ! (LOL)

        • Pepper Wingate

          Yes, it would. So I see you do irony, that puts you above many in this forum. Thank you for your gentlemanly reticence, I am just under 30.

          • Wilhelm Wackenroder

            Thanks for the compliment. Not sure that was irony though …. more like comic deflation, which I figured you wouldn’t object to since you already indicated you were able to poke fun at yourself. I have read some of your other comments via Disqus, which I found well-written and heartening. It takes a lot of fortitude to go up against the Israel-bashers without descending to their level. I gave up after several years of my own personal campaign, although I still point out cases of media bias. Keep up the good fight. Speaking of which, I have to ask you about your last name … any relation to THE famous Wingate who fought the good fight in the 30’s?

          • Pepper Wingate

            My parents will not discuss the subject with me. They are staunch pacifists and feel that it is not appropriate to take pride in military accomplishments. One of these days I will get it together and see if I can answer the question definitively. Right now I am trying to establish myself in my profession and with a new relationship. I was raised by my step father. My paternal grandparents are dead and I have no contact with any relatives on that side.

          • Wilhelm Wackenroder

            I apologize if my question opened any wounds. I extend my best wishes to you in your researches into your family background as well as your future.
            BTW, I was pleased to see a story on CTV news (you are Canadian, right?) late tonight that finally set the record straight about the incidence of anti-semitic acts far outstripping hate crimes against any other group.

          • Pepper Wingate

            Sorry to bend your ear, so to speak. Every family has areas of friction. I am actually Scottish (educated in England and Scotland, University of Edinburgh PhD ). I am now working as a psychologist in Vancouver, BC.
            I am so pleased that people are recognising that anti-semitism is a pervasive problem in Canada, as it is in the rest of the world.
            If you happen to find yourself on Facebook, look me up. I get on this forum occasionally, as the topics come to my attention but I post regularly on FB.

          • Wilhelm Wackenroder

            Thanks, at least now I know you got my reference to CTV. Ah, Edinburgh, I have some fond memories visiting a friend who was doing his MA in English there, while I was at Univ of London doing mine. Almost 45 years ago, though … the memories have faded a bit.
            I’m not on FB often, I tend to use my account only to make the odd comment online. But I will try to make a point of visiting your page. All the best.

    • MARY

      Anti-Baha’i hatred, murder and torture = genocide = another pogrom. Let’s talk about this! Enough is enough is enough – all of this = J I H A D …. every which way you examine it – it’s an unholy war – a Jihad against anything that moves that does not bow down to the hallucination Islamists call Allah. Bloody nightmare!

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  • MARY

    Oh yes, and WHAT ABOUT THE TORTURE AND MURDERING OF MEMBERS OF THE BAHA’I RELIGION
    BY THE Muslims? Nobody talking about that which has been going on for decades and decades and decades.
    Bahai’s around the world are threatened and subjected to death by heinous tortures, jailing without trials, confiscation of their property, bank accounts, forbidding their children to continue on in schools, murdering the members and no one is raising an eye about that. Not just the Jews people, not just the Christians, but the followers of the world religion Baha’i Faith by the Muslims. Very bad in Khomein’s regime and STILL going on right now. Muslims wiping out entire races Yazidis, Kurds, infidels all of us and they have plans to exterminate the lot of us. DO I hate them, you bet I do.

  • MARY

    ISLAM USING FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY TO DESTROY FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY! ……