The total number of police-reported hate crimes were down 13% in 2018, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

The report says that total hate crimes reported to police were down 13%, dropping from 2,073 in 2017 to 1,798 in 2018.

When broken down by demographic, hate crimes against Muslims were down the most by far, with more moderate declines in hate crimes against other groups.

Crimes against Muslims were down 50%, with hate crimes against LGBT individuals down 10%, hate crimes against African-Canadians down 12% and hate crimes against Jews down 4%

Overall the total number of hate crimes reported to police in Canada has remained consistent over the past decade, with 2017 being the only year with a considerable increase. 

While a decrease is a good thing, StatsCan still warns that there has still been an “upward trend observed since 2014.”

When it comes to this report, the finer details matter, as True North’s Anthony Furey highlighted in his recent column. He noticed that there are multiple problems with the way Statistics Canada records hate crimes.

One important factor is to differentiate between non-violent hate crimes like graffiti and violence against individual people.

Fortunately only 7.7% of the 1798 hate crimes in Canada involved violence.

Another issue is that StatsCan only gathers information on cases of reported hate crimes — not proven hate crimes. This leaves Canadians in the dark as to how many of these reported incidents were legitimate. 

“Police data on hate-motivated crimes include only those incidents that come to the attention of police services. These data also depend on police services’ level of expertise in identifying crimes motivated by hate,” admits the report.

Despite the significant decrease, the federal government appears to be treating hate crimes as a nation-wide crisis.

The Liberal-controlled Justice Committee last month moved to support a “civil remedy” to combat online hate by creating laws to define and punish it.

The government has also decided to use an ambiguous definition of hate — particularly Islamophobia — so broad that it is likely to cause serious free-speech problems as it is implemented in law.

It’s unclear whether or not the decrease in hate crimes across Canada will affect the government’s crusade against what it defines to be “hate,” particularly online.

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