Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix look on as Premier John Horgan talks about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on January 22, 2021. British Columbia’s premier says violence against people of colour needs to be treated as a hate crime, in light of recent data released by Vancouver police showing a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix look on as Premier John Horgan talks about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on January 22, 2021. British Columbia’s premier says violence against people of colour needs to be treated as a hate crime, in light of recent data released by Vancouver police showing a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. premier calls for action on hate crimes in wake of Vancouver police report

Premier John Horgan said there are difficulties in prosecuting hate crimes

Data released by Vancouver police showing a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes last year reinforces the need to treat violence against people of colour as a hate crime, British Columbia’s premier says.

Vancouver police data shows anti-Asian hate crimes rose from a dozen in 2019 to 142 incidents in 2020, a 717 per cent increase, while general hate incidents doubled.

Vancouver police said last year that the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes coincided with the increases in COVID-19 cases last March.

Premier John Horgan said Thursday there are difficulties in prosecuting hate crimes, partly due to having to prove the crime was race-related, as opposed to violent crimes, but it is important to do so.

“We need to ensure violence against people of colour is not just treated as violence but, in fact, hate crimes,” he said during a media availability. “If you’re going to turn against people because of the colour of your skin, you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Horgan referred to recent incidents of people of Asian descent being attacked in the United States, saying similar incidents can occur in B.C.

The provincial government is working on anti-racism legislation and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has reached out to police forces to emphasize the importance of prosecuting hate crimes, Horgan said.

The premier could not confirm the specifics of the legislation, saying that consultations are being conducted over what it should contain.

Horgan said the Education Ministry is also working with school boards and looking at anti-racism discussions and dialogues in classrooms.

“We need to make sure we’re talking about these issues all the time. Prevention starts by people stepping up when they see intolerance,” Horgan said.

Queenie Choo, the CEO of SUCCESS, a community service group for newcomers to Canada, said there are likely far more hate crime incidents that have gone unreported.

“I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

A clear definition of what constitutes a hate crime, combined with anti-racism legislation, is one immediate step the provincial government can take, Choo said.

“What are the consequences when people behave like this?” she said. “Are people being held responsible for their behaviour?”

Chinese Canadian advocates have previously discussed how the initial rhetoric around the COVID-19 virus, such as some labelling it the “Wuhan virus” or the “China virus,” damaged the community.

Horgan made his comments as he launched a new co-working space for public service employees in Langford, B.C.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

racism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, prepares a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Almost two in three Canadians surveyed recently said they trust COVID-19 vaccines to be both safe and effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Northern Health to open 30 COVID vaccine clinics for oldest residents, Indigenous seniors

Health authority says it plans to vaccinate nearly 15,000 people in Phase Two

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Sometimes there is a glimmer, even a great insight, into rural folk

I start this column with a plain language poem from a book of poetry by Louise Gluck

Cassidy Dankochik joined the Observer’s staff in Aug. of 2020 by way of Gimli, Altona, and Flin Flon, Manitoba. (Photo by Tracey Roberts)
COLUMN: Keep it up Quesnel

Editor Cassidy Dankochik’s Column

Police say the driver of this SUV gestured to two teenaged girls to enter the back of his vehicle. (Quesnel RCMP Photo)
Quesnel RCMP searching for man who approached girls near school

Police say a man gestured to two teenagers to get in his SUV

Quesnel RCMP nabbed cash and guns alongside the drugs in the bust. (Observer file photo)
Quesnel RCMP seize half-kilo of drugs

Police also arrested five people while searching the home

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read