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

(Pacific Coastal Airlines photo)
Potential COVID-19 exposure on March 1 Penticton flight

Interior Health lists a public exposure for the Pacific Air Flight from Vancouver on March 1

The Town of Osoyoos is looking into allowing two food trucks at the downtown plaza over the summer, which would require updates to several town policies and bylaws. (Kevin Clark - Black Press Media File)
Osoyoos council to weigh allowing additional downtown food trucks

The proposal would be aimed to benefits the summer’s downtown plaza

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

(Baldy Mountain Resort / Facebook) 
(Baldy Mountain Resort / Facebook)
Baldy Mountain calls out snowmobilers for damaging ski hill

The Resort is fed up with snowmobilers running across their trails

C.E. “Ned” Bentley owned a garage on Shaughnessy Avenue, now Lakeshore Drive in Summerland. Bentley later went on to serve on Summerland’s council and was recognized with the Good Citizen Award in 1939. (Summerland Museum photo)
Former Summerland reeve once ran garage

C.E. “Ned” Bentley was a prominent figure in Summerland’s past.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

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.

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Okanagan owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

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

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes Okanagan mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

Most Read