August 19, 2015 - 6:00 AM
TORONTO - A new study suggests Canada ranks sixth out of 152 countries and jurisdictions when it comes to human freedom while its southern neighbour is 20th.
The index, compiled by the Fraser Institute and public-policy think-tanks in Germany and the United States, uses 76 indicators of personal, civil and economic freedoms.
Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese territory, tops the rankings followed by Switzerland, Finland, Denmark and New Zealand rounding out the top five. Other notable countries are Australia in seventh place, the United Kingdom in the ninth position and Germany in 12th place.
The least free country in the index is Iran. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Yemen round out the bottom five.
According to the data, Canada scores well on security and safety, the rule of law and economic freedom which is based on personal choice, trade openness, freedom to compete, security of private property and judicial independence.
Study editor Fred McMahon says the goal of the index is to measure the degree to which people are free to enjoy classic civil liberties — freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly.
"We also look at the rule of law, which is essential for freedoms, as well as indicators of crime and violence, freedom of movement, limits on freedom due to sexual orientation, and women's freedoms," McMahon said.
As for the United States coming in at No. 20, McMahon says the data points to a "significant weakening of the rule of law" and an erosion of property rights and "an expansion of quasi-judicial regulations" over time.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015