For the first time in more than a decade, Canada failed to rank among the top 10 freest countries worldwide, according to the 2022 Human Freedom Index (HFI) released by the Fraser Institute and U.S.-based Cato Institute.
In 2021, Canada ranked as the 6th freest country in the world, which was based on data from 2019; this year Canada fell to 13th place, based on the data available from 2020.
The result reflects how Canada, the true North strong and free, has become not so free since the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
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“During the pandemic, like other governments worldwide, governments in Canada restricted freedom of movement, expression, assembly and other freedoms even more than had in previous years,” said the Fraser Institute’s Fred McMahon, co-author of the HFI, in a Jan. 26 Press Release.
According to the report, the average human freedom rating for the world’s 165 countries or jurisdictions in 2020 was 6.8, dropping from 7.03 in 2019.
The scale rates 0 to 10, with 10 representing the best level of freedom a country’s citizens enjoy.
Based on 83 personal and economic freedom indicators, the report evaluates performance across 12 categories, including rule of law, security, movement, religion, freedom of speech and information, judiciary standards, property rights, and international trade freedom.
Switzerland was named the freest country in the world, with New Zealand, Estonia, Denmark, and Ireland rounding out the top five.
Among Asian countries and jurisdictions, Taiwan sits at the top and communist China at the bottom, ranking 14th and 152nd in the world respectively.
Hong Kong placed 34th in the world and 4th in Asia
Japan ranked 16th in the world and 2nd in Asia; South Korea ranked 30th in the world and 3rd in Asia; Mongolia ranks 51st in the world and 5th in Asia.
In 2022, Hong Kong’s index fell from 32nd in the world. By contrast, six years ago in the 2016 Global Personal Freedom and Economic Freedom Score, Hong Kong ranked first in the world.
On this year’s HFI list, the five least free countries in descending order are Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, Yemen, and Syria. China ranked between Zimbabwe and Chad.
The authors noted there is insufficient data to rank countries such as Afghanistan, North Korea, South Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Canada’s issues with freedom
Pandemic lockdown measures came to be the primary strike that knocked Canada out of the top 10 for the first time in more than a decade, but they weren’t the only factor.
“Canada’s COVID response was much stricter than many in 2020,” said McMahon.
“There have also been some bumps in our legal system, and given various scandals and political interference,” he said, adding, “The overall human Freedom index incorporates economic freedom, and Canada has been declining in that.”
“It’s important not to overstate this — it’s not like the bottom has fallen out and countries at the top tend to be closely bunched — but this is becoming a trend, so it is worrisome,” McMahon continued.
According to Franco Terrazzano, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Canadians are also losing freedom in how they spend their money.
“While Ottawa has been sticking Canadians with higher bills, many other countries have been providing relief by cutting taxes,” Terrazzano told National Post, referencing the Trudeau government’s decision to press ahead with increases to the carbon tax amid record inflation.
By April Chu, Vision Times Staff