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The BC prime minister calls for action on hate crimes following the Vancouver police report




LANGFORD, BC Data released by Vancouver police showing an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes last year reinforces the need to treat violence against people of color as a hate crime, British Prime Minister Columbias said.

LANGFORD, BC Data released by Vancouver police showing an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes last year reinforces the need to treat violence against people of color as a hate crime, British Prime Minister Columbias said.

Vancouver police data show that anti-Asian hate crimes increased from a dozen in 2019 to 142 incidents in 2020, an increase of 717 percent, while overall hate incidents doubled.

Vancouver police said last year that the peak of anti-Asian hate crimes coincided with the rise in COVID-19 cases last March.

Prime Minister John Horgan said Thursday there are difficulties in prosecuting hate crimes, in part because of the obligation to prove that the crime was race-related, as opposed to violent crimes, but it is important to do so.

We need to ensure that violence against people of color is not simply treated as violence but, in fact, hate crimes, he said during media availability. If you turn against people because of the color of your skin, you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Horgan referred to recent incidents of people of Asian descent being attacked in the United States, saying similar incidents could occur in BC

The provincial government is working on anti-racism legislation, and Public Safety Secretary Mike Farnworth has approached police forces to stress the importance of prosecuting hate crimes, Horgan said.

The prime minister could not confirm the specifics of the legislation, saying consultations were being held on what it should contain.

Horgan said the Ministry of Education is also working with school boards and is watching anti-racism discussions and dialogues in the classrooms.

“We need to make sure we are talking about these issues all the time. Prevention starts with people growing up when they see intolerance,” Horgan said.

Queenie Choo, CEO of SUCCESS, a community service group for newcomers to Canada, said there are likely to be many more hate crime incidents that have not been reported.

“I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

A clear definition of what constitutes a hate crime, combined with anti-racism legislation, is an immediate step the provincial government can take, Choo said.

“What are the consequences when people behave like this?” she said. “Are people held accountable for their behavior?”

Chinese-Canadian advocates have previously discussed how initial rhetoric about the COVID-19 virus, such as some labeling it as “Wuhan virus” or “China virus,” harmed the community.

Horgan made his comments as he launched a new collaboration space for public service employees in Langford, BC

By Nick Wells in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on February 18, 2021.

Canadian Press

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