Ontario region has highest number of hate crimes per capita

Hate crimes rose dramatically in 2009, lead by the southwestern Ontario region of Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo.

Police-reported hate crimes in Canada jumped 42 per cent in 2009 compared to 2008, according to a new study released by Statistics Canada. And the worst areas per capita are all in Ontario.

The Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo area had 17.9 hate crimes per 100,000 people followed by Guelph at 17.1, Peterborough at 14.8 and Ottawa at 14.5. The number of hate crimes tripled in the Kitchener area from 2008.

Canada's largest city, Toronto, was eighth with 6.9 while Vancouver had 7 and Montreal had 2.6 hate crimes per 100,000 people.

However, Ottawa and Toronto saw the largest year-over-year increase in total reported offenses. Ottawa had 83 more hate crimes, a more than 250 per cent jump, while Toronto had 79 more, a 30 per cent increase.

For Calgarians, this is a time for them to dispel the stereotype that they live in the hate capital of Canada. Calgary had previously topped the list and has had trouble shaking the image.

"It's an unfair label," Calgary police Sgt. Bill Dodd told the Calgary Sun. He suggests Calgary is moving down the list because more cities are reporting hate crimes.

For Canada as a whole, 437 more incidents were reported in 2009 than in 2008. In 2008, there was also a large 35 per cent increase in reported crimes.

Statistics Canada says that 54 per cent of the crimes were motivated by race or ethnicity, 29 per cent by religion and 13 per cent by sexual orientation.

Out of the religion-motivated offenses, those against the Jewish faith accounted for 71 per cent of the crimes.

While violent offenses account for about 40 per cent of hate crimes, mischief such as graffiti or vandalism account for 54 per cent.

(CBC photo of Jon Chaisson, a victim of a homophobic attack last month on Toronto's subway)