By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Hate crimes in Canada rose steeply in 2017, with most aimed at Muslims, Jews and blacks, according to a Statistics Canada report released Thursday.
The report bucks a trend that saw hate crimes against the three groups decreased in 2016.
Incidents targeting Muslims more than doubled in 2017 over the previous year. Canadian police reported 2,073 hate crimes overall, the highest number since data became available in 2009.
The two provinces with the largest populations – Quebec and Ontario – also reported the biggest increases.
In Ontario, there were 1,023, an increase of 67 percent, while Quebec reported a 50 percent increase to 489 from 327. The numbers for the individual three groups were not available.
The report comes a week after the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) sent a letter to the government urging that Jan. 29 – the day a gunman killed six Muslims in an attack on a Quebec City mosque in 2017 – be designated a National Day of Action Against Hate and Intolerance.
The letter was endorsed by more than 100 Canadian Muslim organizations as well as other community groups.
Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the NCCM, said the day would bring all groups together to condemn hate.
“By expanding our call to unite communities in the fight against hate, we are sending a clear message to those who might try to stir division among Canadians: regardless of whether it is our door or our neighbor’s door, when hate and intolerance come knocking we will always be there for each other,” he said in a statement.
According to the NCCM, which tracks anti-Muslim reports, hate takes various forms, from graffiti to name calling and physical attacks. The council’s figures show that from Jan. 1 2018 to Nov. 21, there were 36 reported hate crimes against Muslims in Canada.