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

Terrace city council are reaching out to the B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson regarding councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller’s resignation on Feb. 22, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
City of Terrace seeking ombudsperson investigation into allegations of systemic racism

Councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller resigned Feb. 22, citing racism

A large provincial grant will make cycling and walking safer in Terrace. (File photo)
Large grant to make walking, cycling safer in Terrace

Pathway will connect old Skeena Bridge to the downtown

Design work continues for planned new hospital

Construction contract still in the works

The Terrace municipal council in 1974. Front row, left to right, alderman E.F. Clift, Mayor Gordon Rowland, alderman H.M. Buncombe. Back row, left to right, alderman R.A. Green, alderman M.J.G. Duffus, alderman N. Jacques and alderman C.D. (Dave) Maroney. (City of Terrace photo)
Former Terrace mayor passes away

Gordon Rowland was mayor during the 1970s

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read