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Canada sixth freest country in the world, US drops to 23rd

Hong Kong takes the top spot in the Human Freedom Index.


TORONTO — Canada is among the freest jurisdictions in the world, according to the Human Freedom Index, but Hong Kong is in the top spot.

Canada ranks sixth overall while the US continues to decline – this year dropping to 23rd – in the index released by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank, and a network of international public policy think-tanks.

Seventy-nine indicators of personal, civil and economic freedoms are used to rank 159 countries and jurisdictions around the world. The index includes rankings from 2008 to 2014, the most recent year of available data.

Since 2014, the federal government and provincial governments in Alberta and Ontario have introduced legislation and regulations that the Fraser Institute says encroach on economic freedom.

“Canadians are generally free to enjoy civil liberties such as freedom of speech and religion, and women’s rights, but the more government hampers our ability to trade and conduct business openly, the less free we become,” said Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser Institute and editor of the study.

Hong Kong remains the freest jurisdiction in the world, followed by Switzerland, New Zealand, Ireland and Denmark. Canada is tied for sixth with Australia and the UK. Other notable countries include Germany (13), the US (23), France (31), Japan (32), Russia (115) and China (141). Syria, Iran

Last year, the US ranked 20th.

Hong Kong’s top ranking may surprise many.

“While the freedom index doesn’t measure democracy, democracy remains the best safeguard of personal freedoms, so if China encroaches on its one-country, two-system relationship with Hong Kong, we can expect Hong Kong’s ranking to drop,” McMahon said.

Syria, Iran, Yemen and Libya are at the bottom.

The complete index – a joint project of the Fraser Institute, the Cato Institute in the US, and the Liberales Institut of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in Germany – is available at www.fraserinstitute.org.

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