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Canada’s 10 worst cities for hate crime

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Four out of the 10 Canadian urban areas with the highest hate crime rates are in the Greater Toronto Area or Greater Golden Horseshoe, Statistics Canada data supplied to Maclean’s shows.

Police services covering Hamilton, Peterborough, the York region and Guelph all recorded hate crime rates per 100,000 that put their cities among the top 10 highest in the country in 2017, the most recent year with statistics available. Hamilton, Ont. saw the highest rate of any jurisdiction in the region and the third highest in the country, at 16 incidents per 100,000 people.  

Several GTA/Golden Horseshoe cities were also among the country’s urban areas with the fastest-growing hate crime rates. In 2016, only one GTA/Greater Golden Horseshoe city—Hamilton—made the top 10 for hate-crime rates.

Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, said she wasn’t surprised.

RELATED: Canada’s 20 most dangerous places

“These are very active areas for the organized far right movement,” Perry said. “Their very visibility and blatancy, I think, over the past couple of years, has contributed to that normalization of hate, that normalization of negative sentiment directed at targeted communities.”

Maclean’s analyzed numbers from police services covering a population of 50,000 people or more in order to avoid large fluctuations in the hate crime rate caused by one or two additional incidents in small towns. The analysis is based on a more detailed version of the annual hate crime data posted publicly by Statistics Canada in late November.

The increases are part of a drastic nation-wide rise in hate crime, with Statistics Canada reporting 47 per cent more incidents from 2016 to 2017. The data captures only hate incidents that were reported to the police.

Statistics Canada did not release data showing the type of incidents or motivations broken down at the police service level. Nation-wide, the government agency reported 38 per cent of hate crimes were violent, with criminals most likely to target Jews, Muslims, Black people and people with marginalized sexual and gender identities.


Police services in the GTA/Greater Golden Horseshoe region contacted by Maclean’s confirmed that national trends in hate crime motivations were mirrored in their communities. Superintendent Ricky Veerappan, who oversees the York Regional Police’s diversity, equity and inclusion bureau, said the force launched an anti-hate campaign in 2016 in response to rising negative sentiment towards Syrian refugees.

Veerappan said some of the large increase in police-reported hate crimes in the York region might be because of those outreach campaigns, in addition to an increase in the incidents themselves. “People are maybe a little bit more comfortable in connecting with the police, knowing the resources that are available, knowing the numbers to call and knowing members of our diversity unit are very accessible,” he said.

Josh Fraser, public information officer with the Guelph Police Service, said his force also participates in anti-hate public education campaigns. He noted that while Guelph’s hate crime rate of 11.8 incidents per 100,000 people is the eighth highest for any police service covering a population of 50,000 or more, 12 of the city’s 16 incidents were graffiti-related and seven took place on the University of Guelph’s campus.

“The year before it was 10 [incidents],” Fraser said. “I’m not trying to downplay it, but it’s six more. It’s not like it jumped from 50 to 100.”

Perry, the hate crime expert, said it’s important to remember that a handful of additional spray-painted swastikas reported to the police in a city like Guelph likely represents a much larger increase. She said her research and studies conducted by anti-hate groups suggest the true total number of hate crimes in Canada may be five to seven times greater than the official police-reported figure.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “There’s something real going on there.”

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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