After two years of increases, Canadians reported fewer hate crimes in 2010, especially in Vancouver and southern Ontario, Statistics Canada said Thursday.
Most of the decrease was a result of fewer reported violent hate crimes, Statscan said in releasing its latest annual survey for hate-motivated offences.
"It is important to note that police-reported data likely undercount the true extent of hate crime in Canada, as not all incidents come to the attention of police," the report cautioned.
The most common victims of violent hate crimes were gays (100 incidents) and blacks (75 incidents).
The survey noted that black Canadians, who were targeted in about 20 per cent of reported incidents in 2010, only make up 2.5 per cent of the population.
There were 1,401 hate crimes reported to police in 2010, or a rate of 4.1 hate crimes per 100,000 population.
While the 2010 rate was 18 per cent lower than the previous year's rate, it remained the second highest per capita rate since national figures started being systematically compiled in 2006.
The number of reported hate crimes for 2010 was 5.5 per cent less than the 1,482 hate crimes police registered in 2009, but was still the second highest since 2006.
The most common type of hate crime was mischief, such as graffiti or vandalism, while a third of incidents were considered violent.
Statscan analyzed both confirmed and suspected hate incidents and says its survey used information from police services covering 99 per cent of the population of Canada.
Half of the reported incidents in 2010 were motivated by race or ethnicity, while a third were attributed to religious and 16 per cent because of sexual orientation.
Jews were the most targeted religious group, accounting for 55 per cent of religiously-motivated incidents in 2010 while Muslims (14 per cent) and Catholics (14 per cent) were the other faiths most often victimized.
Gays were more likely to be victims of violent hate crimes. Two-thirds of incidents targeting gays were violent. A third of racially-motivated offences and 17 per cent religiously-motivated crimes were violence.
Among provinces, Ontario, where 739 incidents were reported to police, had the highest rate of hate crime, with 5.7 per 100,000 population (Yukon and the Northwest Territories had higher per capita rates but the actual number of incidents were small).
Despite a 37 per cent decrease, Guelph had the highest rate of hate crime among census metropolitan areas, though none of the 15 reported incidents were violent.
Winnipeg and Montréal reported the largest increases in the number of incidents in 2010, with 27 and 17 incidents respectively, while decreases in Toronto (48 fewer incidents), Vancouver (46 less incidents) and the London-Kitchener-Cambridge census metropolitan regions (38 fewer incidents) accounted for the drop in national rate.