There were reports of activities against religious groups, in particular anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents, including vandalism, hate speech, harassment, and violence against persons, places of worship, and private property.
In October two minors pushed a pregnant Montreal woman to the ground and attempted to forcibly remove her hijab. Police investigated the incident and at year’s end had not ruled out prosecuting it as a hate crime.
In April an unknown woman physically attacked a Muslim woman from Laval, Quebec, on the metro and shouted religious and racial slurs at her. Onlookers pulled the attacker off the woman, who sustained minor injuries. The attacker then fled the scene. As of the end of the year police continued to investigate, but had not identified the assailant.
On November 16, two men in Toronto physically assaulted a Muslim woman, pulled off her hijab, robbed her, and uttered anti-Muslim and racist slurs. Toronto Police launched a hate crime investigation into the incident.
On November 18, two men and a woman boarded public transit in Toronto and accosted two Muslim women, pushed one of them, and uttered anti-Muslim slurs, suggesting they could be terrorists, before fleeing the train. Police opened an investigation that continued as of the end of the year. On the same day, the transit authority reported unknown vandals had scrawled anti-Muslim graffiti on a compartment of one of its trains. The Toronto Transit Commission publicly condemned the verbal assault on the Muslim women and the graffiti as “deeply offensive,” underscoring the incidents “in no way reflect our organization’s values.”
In June vandals in Alberta shattered the glass door for the female entrance to the Markhaz-Ul-Islam mosque. As of October the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was investigating whether the incident was targeted at the mosque – as religious leaders suspected – and whether the vandals had used a gun or other weapon to shatter the glass.
In November unknown arsonists attacked the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association mosque in Peterborough, Ontario. The vandals smashed a window and hurled a fire accelerant inside. The building was empty, and no one was hurt, but the structure sustained extensive damage. Police opened a hate crime investigation. A public crowd-funding initiative in the community raised sufficient funds to repair the mosque. The prime minister and the Premier of Ontario separately issued statements condemning the mosque attack.
Also in November unknown vandals smashed windows at the Shri Ram Dham Hindu Temple in Kitchener, Ontario. Police opened an investigation that continued as of the end of the year.
In response to the November mosque and temple attacks and the assault of the Muslim woman, the prime minister issued a statement deploring “vicious and senseless acts of intolerance” directed at specific Canadians in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris, France. The prime minister said the government would “protect the rights of innocent Canadians being subjected to such abuse,” adding “Canadians understand that religious groups around the world suffer persecution regularly at the hands of violent extremists. Our focus must be on stopping the people responsible for the terror, and continuing to fight hate by embracing Canadian values.”
The B’nai Brith Canada League for Human Rights received 1,627 reports of anti-Semitic incidents in 2014, the most recent year for which data was available, up 28 percent from 2013, and the largest annual number of incidents the organization has ever recorded. More than half of such reports (961) came from Ontario. Reports included harassment (1,370 incidents, an increase), vandalism (238 incidents, a decline), and violence against persons (19 incidents, an increase); attacks on synagogues, private homes and property, and community centers; and web-based hate speech.
Vandals displayed anti-Semitic graffiti and symbols in several incidents. In January unknown persons spray-painted anti-Semitic messages and “Leave Canada” on the wall of an Edmonton synagogue. Unknown assailants spray-painted the same “Leave Canada” message and racist comments on the exterior of a Sikh temple in Edmonton the same month. Police reports were filed in each instance, although no suspects were identified.
In February unknown vandals in Montreal painted swastikas on four cars and left notes that included a bullet and a death threat. The vandals smashed the window of one of the cars with an axe. Authorities opened an investigation that continued as of the end of the year.
In March unknown vandals broke into a new community gymnasium in Alberta and spray-painted swastikas and other anti-Semitic messages. A police investigation continued as of the end of the year.
In May the Toronto police launched an investigation against an independent publication called Your Ward News after receiving complaints about anti-Semitic content, including a caricature of postal worker wearing Orthodox Jewish clothing.
In September the ombudsman for French language public broadcaster Radio-Canada upheld a complaint by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) that a Radio-Canada host failed to challenge on-air anti-Semitic remarks during an August 4 call-in television show. The unidentified caller accused Jews of being murderers who want to take over the world. CIJA stated the caller’s anti-Semitic remarks were liable to incite hatred against Jews. The ombudsman agreed the remarks were “excessive and anti-Semitic” and infringed on the broadcaster’s journalistic guidelines.
A report released in July by Brandeis University surveyed more than 3,000 Jewish North American university students, of whom one-third reported being verbally harassed because they were Jewish, and a quarter of whom reported being blamed for the actions of the government of Israel. Jewish students on Canadian campuses reported experiencing a greater level of hostility than the average for campuses included in the study.