The Current

Trump win gives 'permission' to racists, but hate crimes are nothing new in Canada

Amidst multiple reports of racist attacks and expressions of hate, there are concerns that the outcome of the U.S. presidential election there will enable and normalize hate crimes here in Canada — even when every day racism already exists.
Racist attacks happen all the time, says freelance journalist Desmond Cole. It's not just because there's a rise of hate crimes after a Trump victory. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

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Multiple reports of racist attacks and expressions of hate have dominated Canadian headlines in the wake of the U.S. election.

According the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit legal advocacy organization, more than 300 racially-charged incidents have been recorded in the U.S. since Trump's win.

Here in Canada, a number of hate crimes have been reported, including a racist rant caught on camera in Abbotsford, B.C., KKK and anti-semitic graffiti left at a school in Kanata, Ont., and posters promoting the so-called "alt-right" in Toronto.

"It's really shocking wherever it happens but I think it's especially notable that it does spill over across the border," University of Ontario professor Barbara Perry tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Perry tracks white nationalist groups in Canada. She explains numbers tracked in 2013-2014 accounted for over 100 active groups, but argues it's "probably a dramatic under-representation."

However, Perry also says "very little of the hate crime we see is actually perpetrated by adherents." She estimates white nationalists are responsible for five to 10 per cent of hate crimes in Canada.

Canada wasn't always the clean-cut you know cousin of the Americans.- Bernie Farber

Executive director of the Mosaic Institute Bernie Farber says he has received at least eight or nine threats since the U.S. election -- something he attributes to his vocal criticism of the president-elect's racism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia and xenophobia.

He worries Trump's rhetoric will have an impact in Canada.

"Trump has given permission for the racists and the crumb bums who've been hiding in garbage cans to pop their heads up and say, 'Look, wow fresh air here.'"

Farber tells Tremonti racists are dusting themselves off and says "it's not new, just a shot of adrenaline," for those with hateful prejudices.

"Canada wasn't always the clean-cut you know cousin of the Americans," says Farber.

"We've had our foray with racists and bigots, Neo-Nazis, and we still have to this day our foray."

The threshold of what it takes to get on the news is quite high.- Desmond Cole on hate crimes

Freelance journalist and activist Desmond Cole agrees, and says it's important to recognize the pervasive racism and discrimination people in Canada experience every day.

"Trump might be giving permission for these things to happen in a maybe more public way now, but we see them all the time."

Cole tells Tremonti that "the threshold of what it takes to get on the news is quite high" and says it's inaccurate to believe the attacks are solely inspired by U.S. politics.

"The same sentiments of white resentment that Donald Trump fed on in order to win his election are present here."

Listen to the full conversation.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien and Ines Colabrese.