B.C. Premier John Horgan says the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes reported by the Vancouver Police Department is “deeply troubling.”
The 717 per cent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year was included in a year-end report presented to the Vancouver Police Board on Wednesday.
The VPD reporting an increase from 12 cases of anti-Asian hate crimes in 2019 to 98 cases in 2020.
“This is deeply troubling,” Horgan tweeted.
“Our work includes moving forward on anti-racism legislation, but there’s more for all of us to do in our stand against racism and hate in all its forms.”
The B.C. government is planning on bringing forward anti-racism legislation this year. MLA Rachna Singh has been appointed the Parliamentary Secretary to work with the Attorney General on the legislation.
Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has been reaching out to law enforcement across B.C. to reinforce the government’s priority of prosecuting hate crimes.
“We need to make sure that violence against people of colour is not just treated as violence, but in fact hate crimes, which carry much stiffer penalties,” Horgan said on Thursday.
“More difficulty in prosecutions but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t follow through and make sure that people understand in BC if you’re going to turn against people of the colour of your skin, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That’s the message Minister Farnworth is delivering and I expect law enforcement to follow-up on that.”
The anti-Asian racism has frequently been linked to COVID-19 and the virus’ origins in China.
Singh is currently working with stakeholders and the community to prepare the provincial legislation.
“What inspires me is discussions I had with the Chinese community through Lunar New Year celebrations this past week about their frustration and anxiety about an increase in violence and hate speak as well as actual actions against individuals, but a sense of comfort that more and more people are stepping up to defend people if they find themselves being attacked verbally in public places,” Horgan said.