Montreal

Muslim group sounds alarm over 'human error' in Quebec City police's hate-crime numbers

A Muslim civil liberties group is calling on Quebec City police to take hate crimes more seriously, after the police force blamed "human error" for a large discrepancy between their own records and those provided by Statistics Canada. 

Earlier this year, the SPVQ said there was a big reduction in hate crime, but StatsCan numbers said otherwise

Members of the National Council of Canadian Muslims Mustafa Farooq (left) speaks at a news conference in June 2019. He says the discrepancy over hate-crime statistics is part of a larger issue. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press )

A Muslim civil liberties group is calling on Quebec City police to take hate crimes more seriously, after the police force blamed "human error" for a large discrepancy between their own records and those provided by Statistics Canada. 

"All Canadians deserve to feel safe, all Quebecers deserve to feel safe and that can't happen when people are coming out and patting themselves on the back for numbers that don't exist," Mustafa Farooq, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said in a phone interview Friday.

In January, Quebec City police (SPVQ) announced there had been 27 hate-related incidents in 2018, a substantial reduction from 75 a year earlier.

When they made the announcement, the SPVQ suggested that their increased awareness following the deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque in January of 2017 had contributed to the reduction.

But CBC News revealed that Statistics Canada, which compiles its hate-crime numbers based on police reports, had counted 89 incidents in Quebec City in 2018.

Such a large discrepancy is unusual, according to one hate-crime expert.   

Farooq would like to see the SPVQ look further into what caused the discrepancy.

"It's not just about a simple human error and data discrepancy. These are about real human beings living in Quebec City whose safety and security matter," Farooq said. 

The SPVQ initially refused to agree to an interview to explain how the difference occurred. But late Thursday afternoon they provided a statement to CBC News.

"Following a human error of extraction and analysis by one of the members of our organization, a notable difference between numbers from Statistics Canada and our organization was generated," the statement said.

The SPVQ said it is working to correct the situation and would update Statistics Canada when it had determined the "real number" of hate-related incidents.

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