Canada is establishing a national task force to stop the growing number of hate crimes in the country and to establish national standards to support victims of hate crimes.

According to a report released last week by Statistics Canada, the country’s national statistical agency, police recorded 2,669 hate crimes in 2020—a 37 percent rise from the year before. Of the 515 incidents targeting religious minorities in the country, 321 targeted members of the Jewish community.

Meanwhile, the B’nai Brith Canada 2020 Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents tracked 2,610 instances of Jew-hatred in the country, an average of seven instances a day.

“Hate crimes erode the social fabric of our nation because they send a message to members of minority groups that they are despised and hated,” said Mohammed Hashim, executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and a co-chair of the task force. “These message crimes put individuals, families and communities at great risk of harassment, violence and can be fatal, as we have tragically witnessed in too many heartbreaking instances including in London, Quebec City and in Toronto.”

“This collaborative effort will send a signal to communities that their safety and well-being are a public safety priority,” he said.

Alison Whelan, chief strategic policy and external relations officer at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and task force co-chair, said “the RCMP and all partners involved in the Chiefs of Police National Roundtable are committed to the success of this task force, and we look forward to making meaningful improvements to how hate-motivated crimes and incidents are dealt with across jurisdictions.”

According to a news release, the task force will be charged with raising awareness of what constitutes a hate crime, in addition to the impact these incidents have on local communities. Officials note that historically, some communities have low confidence in local authorities investigating hate crimes, choosing instead to report them to local groups. They expressed their hope that the task force is one step in rectifying those concerns.

Shimon Koffler Fogel, president and CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the task force is an important step to fight hate crimes and something the Jewish community has been asking for since last summer when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosted a summit on anti-Semitism.

He said “the Jewish community, which is 1 percent of the Canadian population, was the target of 62 percent of all hate crimes targeting religious minorities in Canada. While the latest Statistics Canada data shows a 16 percent decline in hate crime targeting religious groups, hate crime targeting Jewish Canadians increased by 5 percent. We are grateful that police services across the country take hate incidents seriously, but more can and must be done to address this alarming trend.”

JNS

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