Monday, May 11, 2009

$1M to battle hate crime

Cash extends program for targeted groups


Last Updated: 11th May 2009, 5:03am

The federal government is pumping up to $1 million into a program designed to help targets of hate crime, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan announced yesterday.

The cash will be used to extend the Security Infrastructure Pilot program, which began in 2007. The funding covers costs associated with security infrastructure at not-for-profit community centres, provincially recognized educational institutions, and places of worship with a history of being victims of hate-motivated crime.

Van Loan said the government wants to help organizations pay for things like alarm systems, closed-circuit televisions, digital video recorders, fences, gates, lighting and intercom systems.

"The reality today is that Canada is not immune from violent acts that target individuals or groups based on their race, culture, religion or identity," Van Loan said yesterday inside the new Lipa Green building, behind the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre.

The building -- which houses the Canadian Jewish Congress -- qualified for about $100,000 worth of security improvements, said Bernie Farber, the CJC's chief executive officer.


"When I first started working here 24 years ago, there was not one security guard," Farber said. "Now, in order to get into this building, you have to go through three levels of security to get upstairs to my office."

The CJC and the adjacent community centre have been the target of hate-motivated vandalism in the past, Farber said. And he has also been on anti-Jewish hit lists.

"I feel safe working here," Farber said.

"Crimes against communities or crimes that target community institutions are sometimes considered to be victimless crimes because there doesn't appear to be any physical harm to an individual," Van Loan said. "But the harm is very, very profound ... It leaves an entire community in a state of fear and anxiety."

Farber, meanwhile, said even the smallest synagogue and Jewish community organization now spend a large amount of money on security during days of worship and significant holy periods.

"If it's visible, it has to be secured," Farber said. "And the cost for this is just unbelievable -- it's a major burden."

The application deadline for funding is June 17.


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