With inroads made by social movements and an increase in Canada's population diversity, the potential for hate crimes to occur remains a pressing concern.
The good news is that violent hate crimes against specific groups are decreasing. Unfortunately, hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation are primarily violent, with the largest group of victims being male. Also, black Canadians remain the most targeted racial group for hate crimes.
While hate crimes represented only a very small percentage of all police-reported crime in Canada, police reported 1,414 hate-motivated criminal incidents in 2012.
According to Statistics Canada, the majority of all hate crimes (704 incidents, or 52 percent) were racially or ethnically motivated hatred while 419 incidents (30 percent) were religious-related hate crimes and 185 incidents (13 percent) were motivated by hatred of sexual orientation.
Although hate crime incidents related to sexual orientation were the smallest of the three most reported hate crimes, they were also the most violent, with 67 percent being violent offences. (The majority of hate crimes against religion or race/ethnicity were mischief.)
Sexual-orientation-related hate crimes had the highest percentage of male victims at 80 percent, and just over a half were youth (56 percent under the age of 25). Overall, the majority of hate-crime victims were male (72 percent) and youth (40 percent were under the age of 25).
In spite of these numbers, violent hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation decreased by 23 percent, and violent hate crimes motivated by race/ethnicity were down by 16 percent.
Among race- or ethnicity-related hate crimes, black people were targeted for 295 hate crimes (42 percent). Other populations were reported as victims significantly less, including Arab and West Asian (9 percent), South Asian (8 percent), East and Southeast Asian (7 percent), and aboriginal (5 percent).
Of the 419 religion-related hate crimes, 58 percent were against Jewish people, with the majority of these incidents being nonviolent (85 percent).
Overall, police-reported hate crimes increased by 82 incidents (a six percent increase) from 2011 to 2012. Hate crimes mostly increased in Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec, while British Columbia's number decreased by 11 fewer incidents from the previous year.
Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver accounted for 35 percent of police-reported hate crimes while Hamilton, Thunder Bay, and Peterborough had the highest rates of hate crimes.
Statistics Canada pointed out that differences in demographic groups in cities influence where hate crimes take place. For instance, although same-sex couples only make up one percent of Canadian couples, almost half (47 percent) live in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Visible minorities make up 47 percent of Toronto and 45 percent of Vancouver while 20 percent live in Montreal.
However, higher rates of police-reported hate crimes can reflect changes or improvements made in the recognition, reporting, and investigation of these incidents by police and civilians.
The full report can be found at the Statistics Canada website.