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Author Topic: Calgary not Canada's racist capital  (Read 4964 times)

Doyle

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Calgary not Canada's racist capital
« on: Oct 08 13 02:06 »
Calgary not Canada's racist capitalArielle McEwan and David Bacsu chat during an anti-racism rally in downtown Calgary on Saturday...          Arielle McEwan and David Bacsu chat during an anti-racism rally in downtown Calgary on Saturday March 19, 2011. (Lyle Aspinall, QMI Agency)                                                             Jun 8, 2011                     , Last Updated:  5:58 AM ETMICHAEL PLATT, QMI Agency
CALGARY - The statistics no longer suit the stereotype.
Just three years after the nation's media gleefully condemned Calgary as the "Hate capital of Canada," the latest numbers once again show Calgarians were right all along.
We weren't Canada's hate capital then, and we still aren't now.
"It's an unfair label," said Sgt. Bill Dodd, of the Calgary Police Service diversity resources section.
Of course it's unfair -- but that hasn't stopped critics from clinging to a stereotype.
When Statistics Canada released its national survey of hate crimes in 2008, the protests of those living in this widely tolerant and multi-ethnic city fell on deaf ears,
Calgary topped the list, and the statistics cemented a redneck reputation this city can't seem to shake.
Of course, it made for a heck of news story about a supposedly bigoted town.
"Hate capital" it was, and some can't stop repeating it.
As recently as March, an alarmist Globe and Mail feature on Calgary's small neo-Nazi community claimed this city has "the highest hate-crimes rate in the country".
That was no longer true even before the latest numbers were released on Tuesday, showing Calgary remains well behind cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Saskatoon and Vancouver in terms of crimes per capita.
In 2010, Statistics Canada ranked Calgary sixth among Canada's major centres, with 57 hate crimes reported.
This year, the so-called "hate capital" is down to 12th position with 63 hate crimes reported, including 45 involving race, 16 based on religion and two on sexuality.
Kitchener, Ont. leads the list with 18 crimes per 100,000 people -- but to label that city the new hate crime capital of Canada would be totally unfair.
Sgt. Dodd, whose section includes Calgary's hate crimes unit, says the national police statistics are irrelevant, because they are not consistent.
"What it tells me is there are issues with reporting hate crimes across Canada," said Dodd.
"It can be very confusing, with different rules in different jurisdictions."
When Calgary topped the list, few police services even reported hate crimes as a separate category, meaning most cities in Canada -- like Saskatoon and Winnipeg -- weren't even ranked.
Now plenty of police forces report hate crimes, but they report them in their own way. Thus, one service may count a spree of hateful graffiti as one crime, while another may count each individual tag.
It means Calgary can only make a fair comparison with it's own prior numbers -- and so far, the police anti-hate strategy seems to be working.
From nine crimes per 100,000 to six in just three years, Calgary appears to be a city slowly eradicating hate crimes with the help of a highly visible police campaign.
And in September, a 17-year-old boy became the first Calgarian ever convicted of a hate crime after he was caught spray painting anti-religious slogans at three locations, including Calgary's Holocaust memorial.
But success in the courts and a dwindling list of reported crimes may not equal success, says Dodd -- and police believe only a fraction of hate crimes are being reported.
Thus, the next step in Calgary's hate crime strategy is to train officers to recognize signs of crimes against race, sexuality and religion, and encourage victims to report them.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see our numbers climbing again as a result," said Dodd.
And so, by leading the charge, Calgary police are setting this city up to again be labelled the hate crime capital of Canada -- and good for them.
Those who believe Calgary is a haven for racism and rednecks are going to believe it, no matter what the truth might be.
All Calgarians can do is appreciate the mostly tolerant reality -- and those who live here certainly do.
"Things have been relatively quiet for the past year," said Jeffrey Smith, spokesman for the Calgary Jewish Federation.
"I think we feel we live in a community where we are quite well accepted, and I think by and large most people in the Jewish community feel secure."
michael.platt@sunmedia,ca
POLICE-REPORTED HATE CRIMES IN CANADA
1 case of advocating genocide
10 cases of wilful promotion and public incitement of hatred
3 cases of mischief to religious property
Of those cases, there was at least one hate crime charge
In 2009, Canadian police services reported 1,473 hate crimes, up substantially from the year before. The increase in police-reported hate crimes in 2009 was largely the result of a higher number of incidents in Ottawa, Toronto, Kitchener-Cambridge--Waterloo, and Montreal.
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo 17.9 hate crimes per 100,000 population
Hamilton 4.3
Abbotsford-Mission 4.6
Calgary 5.6
London 6.1
Sherbrooke 6.5
Guelph 17.1
Brantford 6.8
Toronto 6.8
Kingston 6.9
Peterborough 14.8
Ottawa 14.5
Saskatoon 8.5
Vancouver 7.0

 
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