Hate crimes increased by 25 percent in the first quarter of 2021 and this follows a 57 percent increase in such incidents in 2020. Last year, Ottawa Police Services logged 182 hate crimes in the city. The issue was brought to the forefront again this weekend when the Ottawa Citizen’s Matthew Lapierre reported on the newest hate-related incident.

On 29 September, police arrested an unnamed 34 year old man near the Gloucester Centre mall on Ogilvie Road, after he spewed racist slurs at the patrons of an unnamed business. He specifically targeted minorities with his verbal abuse and also assaulted one patron. The man was arrested after resisting briefly, taken into custody and charged with assault, committing a hate-motivated crime and obstructing a peace officer.

In more formal policing language, hate crimes are actually referred to as a hate-motivated or bias-motivated crime and the Criminal Code of Canada has three offences that specifically address hate: advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred and wilful promotion of hatred. Graffiti that targets recognisable demographic groups can also count as a hate crime and we recently saw an example of this Ottawa when this spring the road outside Mayor Jim Watson’s home was spray painted with homophobic slurs.

Illustration: Andrew Haimerl

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