Recently, the Legatum Institute in London published the Prosperity Index ranking the world’s top countries within psychosocial categories. Of these, Canada topped the list as most tolerant toward minorities.
As interesting as the attempt to quantify factors like tolerance may be, I am skeptical of how realistic such measures are. I tend to think that these studies only sugarcoat uncomfortable truths within Western societies and further facilitate a passive attitude towards the issues of oppression that still plague them. In an attempt to uphold the validity of statistics like these, people trick themselves into thinking there isn’t a problem.
The Legatum study mentioned that “92 per cent of polled Canadians [say] Canada is a good place for immigrants.” My question is: Were immigrants asked if Canada is a good place for immigrants? How does such a study account for what is “good” across the masses of immigrant cultures, by asking only certified Canadians?
As a Canadian, wouldn’t it be your duty to paint your country in the most positive light when a poll is conducted?
In addition to this, I have always had a problem with the rhetoric of tolerance. This is due to its propagation of a highly disingenuous and superficial kind of human interaction. People need to work more towards true understanding, rather than to simply tolerate one another.
Precedence is given to the interests of those seeking to undermine the struggles of the oppressed.
Globally, however, researchers and authorities somehow spun tolerance into a badge of honor, especially for Western countries boasting about their open-mindedness.
In an article I wrote earlier this year called “Racism is still a prominent issue in Vancouver,” I aimed to outline that Vancouver and even Canada itself is not exempt from prejudice just because numerous immigrants live here and it is not because a biased study from some institute says so. Microaggression still often rears its ugly head from my experiences here, but due to the subtlety of prejudice in Canada, the country is still often awarded the sought-after ‘tolerance’ label. This strikes me as dishonest.
This is not to say that Canada is a totally racist and bigoted country, because that too would be dishonest. My issue is that precedence is given to a narrative that serves the interests of those seeking to undermine the struggles of the oppressed.
We must acknowledge that just because people are not openly hurling insults at one another left and right, this does not mean that all Canadians are tolerant and accepting. Silence should be just as scary as excessive noise.
What is to be said of the legions of oppressed Indigenous communities all across Canada? Are we to ignore that Canada still has major skeletons in its closet because an arbitrary Index says it is tolerant? I think not.
The Legatum Institute paints a rosy picture that feeds into a preexisting narrative of Canada as a safe haven for minorities, without considering how much effort this take to cover up.
To tolerate something means you keep your mouth shut even if you are uncomfortable or hate the idea that it exists. When it comes to dealing with one another as humans, we ought to seek a deeper and more positive connection than that.
There needs to be a change in the ways well-being is measured. Tolerance can’t be measured in the way that this index tries to.