SFU prof questions new Fraser Institute Human Freedom Index report

A Fraser Institute report ranks Hong Kong as the "freest" country in the world

An internationally renowned Simon Fraser University professor who is also a member of the Canadian Advisory Council on National Security questions the validity of a recently released Human Freedom Index report.

The study, completed by a network of international public-policy think tanks that includes the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, ranks Hong Kong as the “freest” country in the world and Canada sixth.

Dr. André Gerolymatos, also the director for SFU’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies and who has published numerous internationally distributed history books said the rankings are questionable.

“I think any report that ranks Hong Kong as the freest country in the world, you have to question the validity of the study,” Gerolymatos said.

“It’s kind of ridiculous if you think about it really. I wonder about the criteria that they set out for this.”

In the report it states the rankings are based on a number of criteria which include rule of law, security and safety, association, assembly and civil society. Gerolymatos said the pro-democracy protests that took place in Hong Kong last year appear to completely fly in the face of the report, which is titled The Human Freedom Index: A Global Measurement of Personal, Civil and Economic Freedom.

“I would say British Columbia might be the freest place in the world, honestly, even compared to other places in Canada,” he said.  

“Here everyone is completely free to be whoever they want to be. There’s just almost total acceptance now that you don’t even see similar levels in say Central or Eastern Canada.”

Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser Institute and editor of the study said many factors were taken into play.

“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.”

Switzerland was ranked second, while the United States was 20th.