Canadians Tops in Tolerance, According to Survey

CIC News
Published: February 1, 2007

Canada has plenty to be proud of this month thanks to a study showing the successes of multiculturalism in the country.

In a survey of 23 countries in the Western world, Canadians showed themselves to be among the most tolerant across the board in the categories measured.

The study, titled “Love thy Neighbour” surveyed over 32,000 individuals in 23 countries about their views towards other groups in their society. Respondents were asked “would you want this person as your neighbour?” for a series of different groups, such as people from another race, Muslims, and immigrants in general. For Canadians, the answer was overwhelmingly yes, regardless of the group in question.

Canadians ranked more welcoming than any other surveyed country to Muslims, beating the average by a full 8%. Muslim groups in Canada echoed the findings of the survey. Salma Siddiqui of the Muslim Canadian Congress said that “we are lucky to be living in a country that recognizes all human rights”. In addition, fewer than 5% of Canadians responded negatively towards having an immigrant or a person of a different race as a neighbour. While of course any number over zero is not ideal, the survey shows negative sentiments to be limited to a small minority of Canadians.

The survey looked at attitudes in countries in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. It was authored by economists from universities in Australia and the United Kingdom. The study will appear in the upcoming International Review for Social Sciences.

Canada has long prided itself on being a “cultural mosaic”, benefiting from the contributions of the various ethnic, religious and cultural communities within its borders. This value stems from Canada’s background as a country built on immigration. Approximately 20% of today's Canadian citizens were born outside Canada, the highest immigration rate of any G8 country.

Respect for different cultures is not only a Canadian value but also a Canadian law. Canada adopted multiculturalism as an official policy in 1971 when Prime Minister Trudeau put forth the "Announcement of Implementation of Policy of Multiculturalism within Bilingual Framework" in response to the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. The policy was further enshrined in Canadian law in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the 1988 Multiculturalism Act.

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