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

The health authority will occupy the building until October 31, 2021. File Photo
Health authority pays town $7.4K monthly to lease Riverside Centre

Facility is being rented for COVID vaccinations

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s mass vaccination program will be delivered to Princeton residents from a clinic set up at the Riverside Community Centre. (Darryl Dyck/CP photo)
COVID vaccinations bookings began for local residents last week

Riverside serves as Princeton’s appointment centre

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen will speed up the process for hospitality businesses looking to set up patios during the latest COVID-19 restrictions. Under the most recent restrictions, indoor dining is prohibited, but patio dining is allowed. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen speeds up patio permit approval

Initiative to help hospitality businesses affected by latest COVID-19 restrictions

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

Your old lawnmower is an environmental disaster. (courtesy photo)
The perfect lawn is pretty hard on the planet

According the government of Canada, an older mower running for an hour can produce as much air pollution as a new car driving 550 kilometres.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

A second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Vernon’s BX Elementary School. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Second COVID case confirmed at Okanagan elementary school

Exposure at Vernon’s BX Elementary happened April 6 and 7

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Highway 97 being converted to four lanes in April 1990. This photo taken in Lake Country. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives Photo #14025)
HISTORY: How the old Highway 97 in Lake Country got new name

Pelmewash Parkway recognizes the First Nations history in Lake Country

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Flight with COVID
Another Kelowna flight with COVID-19 exposure

Westjet flight on April 5 from Kelowna to Edmonton

Most Read