2. Typologies and Patterns of Crime
Section 319(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada states that it is a crime to promote hatred against any group by making a public statement (this does not extend to private conversations). These statements are usually directed at the race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation of a person or group. Hate crimes are not easily classified as violent or non-violent because, in some cases, hate crimes are statements, while in other cases judges may decide that hateful statements that precede physically violent incidents are in fact aggravating factors, thus increasing the severity of the statements in the eyes of the criminal justice system. Canada had a rate of 1,946 hate crimes per 100,000 population in 2019. In total, 876 of these were directed at race or ethnicity, 608 involved religion, and 263 targeted the victim’s sexual orientation (Statistics Canada, 2020). The overall rate of hate crimes has held steady for the past few years, though there was a significant spike from 2016 to 2017 when the rate increased from 1,409 to 2,073, an increase of 47% (Moreau et al., 2020). This begs the question: Why did hate crimes spike a few years ago?
One possible explanation is the recent proliferation of right-wing extremist groups in North America. Partly in response to 9/11, terror threats from abroad were given a great deal of attention by law enforcement agencies during the early 2000s. However, in more recent years, law enforcement organisations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation have expressed increasing concern about the threat of homegrown terrorist groups. Most of these groups are associated with forms of right-Wing extremism (e.g., Boogaloo Movement, Blood and Honor, Oathkeepers, and QAnon).
A great deal of this surge in right-wing extremism can be attributed to highly inflammatory rhetoric from politicians such as former President Donald Trump directed at immigrants and African-Americans. It is also worth noting that during the writing of this chapter, there were increasing reports of violence directed at Asians in both the United States and Canada, presumably because of links to the COVID-19 pandemic conjured up by President Trump and other politicians. Such incendiary statements from Trump include the following:
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people (June 16, 2015 as quoted in Ye Hee Lee, 2015)
Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here…We should have more people from places like Norway. (July 11, 2018 as quoted in O’Connor and Marans, 2017)
By the way, it’s a disease, without question, [that] has more names, than any disease in history…I can name kung flu, I can name 19 different versions of names. (June 20, 2020)
It should be noted that Canada has also seen an increase in political extremism in recent years (Perry & Scrivens, 2016, 2018). In February 2021, the Canadian government labeled the far-right extremist group, the Proud Boys and two other Neo-Nazi organisations as terrorist groups for their role in the assault on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 (Tasker, 2021).
The next section will examine broader changes in crime patterns over time. In the last 30 years, the crime rate has changed significantly and in surprising ways, and many of these changes were not anticipated by criminologists who have spent their professional careers studying crime.
These are factors that are considered by the sentencing judge that would increase the crime’s severity and would result in a more severe punishment. Examples of aggravating factors include previous criminal record for the same crime; use of a weapon; offence motivated by bias, prejudice or hate (based on race, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, or any similar factor); offence was committed against the offender’s intimate partner or family; the offence was committed against a person under the age of eighteen; offence was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal organization; the offence was a terrorism offence; or the offence had significant impact on the victim’s health and financial situation.