Morgane Oger applauds during an announcement at the Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C. Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Anti-discrimination group wants to map offenders with cross-Canada hate atlas

Morgane Oger Foundation issues call for volunteers to help build Canadian Atlas of Populist Extremism

An advocacy organization says it wants to map hatred and discrimination across Canada in a move that is prompting warnings of caution from one civil liberties group.

The Vancouver-based Morgane Oger Foundation has issued a call for volunteers to help build the Canadian Atlas of Populist Extremism, to be known as CAPE.

Founder Morgane Oger said the mapping tool would tie together extremist groups and people regularly associated with them, and also map incidents involving hate across Canada.

The idea is to shed light on how hatred is propagated, she said, while being mindful that allegations can’t be tossed out willy-nilly.

“We can’t say someone is a murderer unless they are in fact a murderer, but maybe it would be interesting to see it’s always the same dozen people who are doing anti-trans advocacy in the (B.C.) Interior or the white supremacy groups are working with each other,” said Oger, a former provincial NDP candidate and a member of the party’s executive.

Oger said the project is in its infancy and the foundation has not yet determined exactly what types of actions, groups or individuals would be documented, but it believes the data could be useful to academics, law enforcement and others.

It could include a rating system to categorize incidents by severity, she said, giving hate-motivated murders and discriminatory graffiti as examples that would receive different grades.

Other groups have tackled similar projects. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network, based in Toronto, says its mandate is to monitor, research and counter hate groups by providing education and information on them to the public, media, researchers, courts, law enforcement and community groups.

READ MORE: Racist sign prompts B.C. man to organize anti-discrimination walk

The Southern Poverty Law Center in the United States has a “hate map,” which lists 1,020 groups. They include 51 Ku Klux Klan chapters, 49 anti-LGBT groups, 11 radical traditional Catholic groups and a combined 412 black and white nationalist groups.

The centre doesn’t list individuals, only organizations, and uses a similar definition to the FBI for them. The law centre defines a hate group as “an organization that — based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities — has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

Micheal Vonn of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said the CAPE project may be helpful, legal and serve as a positive research tool.

But she warned that there could be privacy issues involved in posting individuals’ information online and said it’s important to distinguish between actual hate from differing opinions on certain topics.

“All kinds of things that people think are hateful constitute genuine political speech,” she said, adding that knowing if someone is against an immigration policy isn’t enough information to conclude they are racist, for example.

Until the foundation lands on a specific model, it’s unclear if there would be any issues around rights, she said.

But she said it’s also worth asking if a map would contribute to healthy political discourse and warned against too loose of a definition of “association.” In a healthy democracy, groups with opposing views should be able to attend one another’s events without being painted with the same brush because it could help build dialogue and understanding.

While governments and governing players are expected to be transparent, we have different standards for individual citizens, she said.

“We don’t ask citizens to be transparent because we’re sovereign. It’s the state that is supposed to be transparent to us,” she said.

Oger said the mapping project is still in its infancy and the organization has not yet decided how much information to make public but it does not want to encourage violence in any form.

She pointed to Statistics Canada figures that show a rise in police-reported hate crimes. After steady but relatively small increases since 2014, hate crime reported by police rose sharply in 2017 to 2,073, up 47 per cent over the previous year and largely due to an increase in hate-related property crimes, StatCan says.

Higher numbers were seen across most types of hate crime, with incidents targeting the Muslim, Jewish and black populations accounting for most of the national increase. The increases were seen largely in Ontario and Quebec.

Police-reported hate crimes refer to criminal incidents that police investigations conclude were motivated by hatred toward an identifiable group.

According to a 2014 StatCan survey, Canadians self-reported being the victim of more than 330,000 criminal incidents that they perceived as being motivated by hate but two thirds were not reported to police.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Jam fam set to expand sweet and spicy empire

Saunders Family Farm gets bigger.

Local skicross racers hit the World Cup circuit

Olympian India Sherret is joined by fellow local racers Zoe Chore and Courtney Hoffos

UPDATED: Hwy 93 reopens after rockslide blocks traffic in Fairmont Hot Springs

Highway at Fairmont between Dutch Creek and Westside Road blocked until geotechnical team can assess

Rob Morrison sworn in as Kootenay-Columbia MP

Parliament set to reconvene on Thursday with election of House Speaker, Throne Speech

VIDEO: Andrew Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

Be aware of ticks when chopping down Christmas trees

Potential for ticks to transfer to clothing

More rowers come forward with complaints about coach, criticism of UVic

Barney Williams is accused of verbal abuse and harassment

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of legendary Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Most Read