Alberta and Edmonton see highest rise in reported hate crimes in Canada

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WATCH ABOVE: The number of hate crimes in our country is on the rise. As Tom Vernon reports, the biggest leap was in Alberta – Jun 13, 2017

Reported hate crimes are up across Canada, with incidents in Edmonton and Alberta climbing most dramatically in the latest data.

Stats Canada has released the numbers on the amount of hate crimes that happened across the country in 2015, showing a five per cent increase from a year earlier. Alberta alone helped boost those numbers with a 39 per cent jump: 193 incidents in 2015 compared to 139 in 2014.

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Most of the victims were being targeted because of their religion or race. Incidents that were aimed toward Muslims saw the largest increase, followed by acts against Arabs or West Asians. Crimes targeting Black or Jewish people were also up.

Edmonton saw the biggest jump of Canada’s largest cities, with 45 more incidents in 2015 over 2014. The city also had the sixth highest number of reported hate crimes, at six for every 100,000 people.

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Lethbridge Police Services told Global News Tuesday it had two hate crimes reported in 2016, compared to five in 2015 and two in 2014.

The Calgary Police Service said the number of reported hate crimes had dropped from 75 in 2014 to 68 in 2015.

Acting Staff Sgt. Craig Collins said Tuesday he hasn’t yet gathered statistics for 2016, but he expects the number of reported hate-biased incidents to increase.

He said the police service errors on the side of caution when it comes to reporting such incidents, which could contribute to a spike in the numbers.

“I tell our recruits: I would rather they indicate there was a hate-biased angle to the investigation so that the file comes to me – so that I can make that decision,” he said.

Collins said the CPS has seen a rise in religious or race-based hate crimes, as opposed to crimes focused on sex or physical disability. He added that most have been non-violent.

In an email, a spokesperson for the Edmonton Police Service said it would respond to the report on Wednesday morning.

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Hate crimes because of a person’s sexual orientation were down nationally, however incidents related to sexuality were most likely to be violent.

Stats Canada admits there was an increase in the overall number of crimes in general in Alberta. It also pointed out the efforts that are being made by police to reach out to minorities and encourage more reporting of hate crimes.

– With files from Kirby Bourne, 630 CHED and Alyssa Julie, News Talk 770

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