TORONTO — A new study will probe right-wing extremism in Canada to better understand how it's taking shape across the country.
Prof. Barbara Perry, a researcher at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, will examine why right-wing extremism movements emerge in communities across Canada, and what can be done to prevent them. The study will take three years, and has received $367,000 from the federal government.
"We are particularly interested in the social context and environmental factors that are shaping the movement today," Perry said. The final product will be a national survey documenting beliefs, motivations, activities and connections of the right-wing movement to help policy makers, the intelligence community, law enforcement and community organizers prevent violence.
Perry released a similar report in 2015, but it was constrained to urban areas, including Montreal, Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area. Since then, she and other experts have been "making noise" about the need for more research and awareness, Perry said.
Perry will examine right-wing activities in all provinces and rural areas, and analyze online content and media coverage in partnership with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in the U.K. Her research will also include interviewing law enforcement, community anti-hate activists and former and current extremists.
"The topic is pretty hard to avoid now, with recent homicides, and the reality is our landscape has shifted dramatically," she said, pointing to recent tragedies inspired by hate, including Alek Minassian allegedly killing 10 pedestrians in Toronto's van attack in 2018 and Alexandre Bissonnette murdering six Muslim men in Quebec City in 2017.
Her research will also focus on groups like Yellow Vests Canada.
Hate crimes in Canada skyrocketed in 2017, increasing by more than 600 incidents from the year before, according to a recent Statistics Canada report. Hate crimes against Muslims increased 151 per cent.
"A growing concern is right-wing extremism, such as white supremacists and neo-Nazis who fuel violent anti-Semitism," said Ministry of Public Safety spokesperson Karen McCrimmon in a statement. "It is critical that we understand the factors that are leading towards hate and intolerance."
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