Following a record 47 per cent surge in hate crimes in 2017, Canada saw the number of police-reported of that nature fall by 13 per cent last year.
However, despite the slight decline, the number of hate crimes in 2018–1,798 across Canada–aligns with the upward trend observed since 2014.
According to new data from Statistics Canada, the most common form of hate crimes were graffiti, most of which involved swastikas, with assaults finishing second.
Hamilton’s rate was almost three times the national rate of 4.9 per cent per 100,000 people.
The Stats Can figures show the rate of hate crimes reported to police out of 100,000 people in Hamilton in 2018 was 17.1 per cent.
That figure includes 97 incidents of hate reported to the Hamilton police, up 6.6 per cent in 2018 after a 30 per cent jump in 2017.
Quebec City had the second highest rate of police-reported hate crimes at 11 per 100,000, with 89 cases reported in 2018.
Ottawa was third at a rate of 9.8 per 100,000, with 105 incidents reported last year.
All three cities were well above Toronto’s rate of 6.4 per 100,000 people.
Matthew Green, executive director for the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion,” told Canadian Press the numbers in Hamilton should come as no surprise.
“We have been a hotbed for far-right, neo-Nazi organizing,” he says.
“What has been accepted as acceptable discourse now includes such a far range of racist, xenophobic, homophobic language that people feel like it’s OK for them to say things and do things under the guise of free speech that cross the threshold of hate crimes.”
According to Tina Fetner, an associate sociology professor at Hamilton’s McMaster University, “There’s been a tolerance for extreme right and, some would say, hate groups that have been mobilizing around City Hall on a weekly basis.
“There’s been a tolerance for people with white supremacist ties (and) people with anti-LGBTQ histories who have been given a place to perform their activism and with no consequences.”
In a statement following the release of the figures, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger urged residents to stand up against prejudice, exclusion and discrimination.
With files from CBC, CP, CTV, Global, Statistics Canada.