Over 25 percent of Canadians believe that it has become "more acceptable" to be prejudiced against Muslims over the last five years, according to an exclusive poll by Ipsos for Global News. The findings of the Canada prejudice study correlate with a spike in hate crimes targeting Muslims living in Canada. Experts explain that although numerous factors have contributed to the rise in hate crimes, the jump is partially due to the "Trump effect."
Just two years ago, hate crimes against Muslims increased to 151 percent with the highest numbers of reports in Ontario and Quebec (207 percent and 185 percent, respectively), based on information from Statistics Canada.
According to the poll's findings, 26% of Canadians believe that it has become more acceptable to be prejudiced against Muslims, while similar results were reported for immigrants, refugees, Jews, East Indians, Aboriginals, Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics.
The same study also found that nearly half of Canadians will admit to having racist thoughts, and feel relatively comfortable sharing them. 47 percent of respondents expressed the belief that racism was a serious problem in Canada, a 22 percent reduction from 69 percent in 1992.
“We found that (almost) 50 per cent of Canadians believe it’s OK and actually normal to have racist thoughts,” said Sean Simpson, vice-president of Ipsos Public Affairs to Global News.
A hate crimes expert from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Barbara Perry, points to U.S. President Donald Trump for justification as to why Islamophobia has been "exacerbated" over the last few years in Canada.
Although she claims that hate crimes targeting Muslims have always been a problem in Canada, Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric during the 2016 presidential campaign and his tenure as president post-election have been linked to the rise in hate crimes against Muslims around the world.
Perry explained to Global News, "Social media borders are poor, and this contributes to a spike of online hate. Trump has contributed to this. The last U.S. election affected us, and the next one will also affect us."
Global News referenced a terrorist attack at a Quebec City mosque in January of 2017, when Alexandre Bissonnette attacked and killed six Muslim men. Prior to the attack, he had obsessively followed Trump's tweets, demonstrating a special interest in his travel ban against Muslims.
"I think, certainly, having a president like Donald Trump, who seems to say anything on his mind at a whim, gives people … more licence to do the same," Simpson stated. "There’s a growing movement in the United States, and some of it has a trickle effect here in Canada …. that it’s OK to say things that maybe we were worried about saying before."
Back in 2015, police throughout Canada had recorded a rise of 253 percent in hate crimes targeting Muslims, up to 159 from 45 in 2012. Perry cites that approximately 100 active hate groups could be found in Canada back in 2015. Now, that number has grown to somewhere between 200 and 300 organizations.