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How could Canada’s justice system better address hate crimes?

Event summary produced by The Globe and Mail Events team. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

During the first year of the pandemic, the number of police-reported hate crimes in Canada increased by 37 per cent over 2019, according to Statistics Canada. It’s the highest number of reported hate crimes since data first became available in 2009, and yet it represents only a small fraction of actual hate crimes, as many go unreported.

The Globe and Mail, in partnership with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) hosted a hybrid conference on March 22 to discuss what is fueling the rise in hate crime, the implications for society, and how law enforcement, the justice system, citizens, technology companies and communities can respond.

View the full afternoon of discussions via the video players, below.

Elder Whabagoon, an Ojibway Elder and a member of the Lac Seul First Nation, led the opening and closing ceremonies at the event.

Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO of The Globe and Mail and Mohammed Hashim, executive director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation then provided an introduction to the topic of hate crimes, before handing off to Ian Bailey, staff reporter with The Globe and Mail in Ottawa.

Mr. Bailey interviewed Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism with Ontario Tech University and Lynn Barr-Telford, assistant chief statistician, focused on social, health and labour statistics with Statistics Canada. The interview defined what constitutes a hate crime, along with how the prevalence and nature of hate crimes are changing.

Police services are usually the first point of contact for those reporting hate crimes. Willow Fiddler, national news reporter with The Globe and Mail explored the strengths and weaknesses that exist in police services, with panelists including Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, Kiran Bisla, detective with Toronto Police Services, Ali Toghrol, acting sergeant with the Hate and Bias Crime Unit with the Ottawa Police Service, and Cpl. Anthony Statham of the B.C. Hate Crimes Team with the RCMP in Vancouver.

The panel discussed the questions police ask when called to respond to a hate crime, along with the issue of under-reporting. They also talked about how police services can play a more active part in mitigating hate crimes and building trust in the community, along with the role of hate crime teams and units in policing.

An interview focused on legislation followed, hosted by Mike Hager, staff reporter with The Globe and Mail’s B.C. Bureau. Mr. Hager spoke with Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey, coordinating minister with the Parkdale United Church in Ottawa, and Dr. Kanika Samuels-Wortley, assistant professor with the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Carleton University.

View Part One

Rev. Dr. Bailey recounted how his church had been the target of hate crimes and responded by using restorative justice to work with the young offender. Dr. Samuels-Wortley spoke about Canada’s current and proposed hate crime legislation and the complexities involved in addressing hate crimes in the justice system

The role of social media

Especially during the pandemic, online hate has increased on platforms such as social media, said speakers in the next session. Tom Cardoso, investigative reporter with The Globe and Mail spoke with Carla Beauvais, a columnist and social entrepreneur who experienced online hate, leading to fear, stress and anxiety. Ms. Beauvais later joined a campaign against online hate to raise awareness of the issue and its impacts.

Mr. Cardoso then interviewed Daniel Panneton, manager of the online hate research and education project with the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre; and Samya Hasan, executive director of the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians. Mr. Panneton and Ms. Hasan talked about the need for social media and technology companies to do more to stop online hate and prevent its distribution. They also discussed ideas to improve the response to online hate crimes in the justice system.

View Part Two

Rounding out the day, Dakshana Bascaramurty, staff reporter with The Globe and Mail in Halifax, moderated a panel discussion focused on next steps and solutions to combat hate crimes. The panel included Amira Elghawaby, director of programs and outreach with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation; Ryan Chan, project lead for online hate and social media with the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice; Bob Watts, adjunct professor and distinguished fellow at Queen’s University, and Deborah Dobbins, president and CEO of the Shiloh Centre for Multicultural Roots.

The panel focused on the role of community in addressing hate crime, solutions to reduce online hate, along with the value of education and awareness programs. The group covered approaches that incorporate reconciliation with Indigenous communities.

Ms. Bascaramurty followed the panel with an interview with Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, focused on approaches at the federal level to address hate crime.

Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Marie-Claude Landry, tied the afternoon together with summary remarks, reflecting on the policies, actions and solutions needed to curb hate and online hate in Canada.

View Part Three

For more information on upcoming Globe Events, visit our events hub at tgam.ca/events.

The Globe and Mail presented the event in partnership with the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF).

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