Premier John Horgan wants to see violence against people-of-colour prosecuted as hate crimes, saying he’s disturbed by a Vancouver police report that shows a seven-fold increase in anti-Asian hate crimes.
“We need to ensure that violence against people-of-colour is not just treated as violence but in fact hate crimes which carry much different penalties,” Horgan told reporters in Langford on Thursday morning.
He was responding to a year-end report presented by the Vancouver police to the police board Wednesday that shows anti-Asian hate crimes are up 717 per cent over the past year. The department’s figures show 98 anti-Asian hate crimes were reported in 2020, up from 12 incidents the year before. Overall, hate crimes increased 97 per cent, from 142 incidents in 2019 to 280 in 2020.
Solicitor-General Mike Farnworth has been reaching out to law enforcement across B.C. “to reinforce the importance of prosecuting hate crimes,” Horgan said.
Victoria criminal defence lawyer Michael Mulligan said Canadian courts already have the ability to lay tougher sentences if Crown prosecutors can prove the crime was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.