B.C. government looking into fines for people who engage in racist behaviour

Then-NDP candidate Ravi Kahlon listens as John Horgan speaks to supporters during a campaign stop in Surrey, B.C., on Monday May 8, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The B.C. government is looking into whether people who engage in racist behaviour can be ticketed.

Delta North NDP MLA Ravi Kahlon has sent a letter to Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, formally requesting the province look into what powers the province has to crack down on “racist and hateful behaviour.”

“I understand that some jurisdictions have implemented new, non-criminal sanctions to deter this behavior such as ticketing,” the letter reads.

“I would be grateful if your ministry could determine what options might be available to better deter perpetrators.”

Kahlon has been travelling the province to meet with people about hate and racism in B.C.

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The letter comes as communities have noticed a rise in groups like the Soldiers of Odin and the Yellow Vest movement which drew criticism for attracting some members of the far right.

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“People are afraid in their communities. They know that these hate groups are organizing in communities,” Kahlon said in an interview.

“My request to the solicitor general was to do a scan of what other jurisdictions are doing to address public hate speech.”

Several communities also expressed concern to Kahlon that new hate groups are establishing themselves in B.C. and are seeking legitimacy by registering as societies under the Societies Act.

To address that, Kahlon is asking the B.C. government to speak to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) about ensuring B.C. is doing everything possible to prevent the growth of these groups.

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“We aren’t the only jurisdictions dealing with this, but we have to start,” Kahlon said.

Farnworth says his office has received the letter and ministry staff will start working on potential solutions. There is no timeline on when some of these issues could be addressed.

“It’s certainly something we are looking into.,” said Farnworth.

“We are seeing a rise in hate groups and there seems to be a number of ways they are trying to organize themselves. If there is a way to combat that we would like to do it.”

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