Published: June 16, 2022
For the first time in almost a decade, Canada failed to rank among the top 10 most peaceful countries, according to the 2022 Global Peace Index (GPI) released this week.
The index, which ranks 163 independent states and territories according to their level of peacefulness, found that Canada lost its ranking as a result of the nation’s anti-government sentiment in response to measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
While still maintaining its status as the most peaceful country in the region, ranking in 12th position (versus the U.S. ranking 129), Canada’s 4.8 per cent deterioration was attributed to significant increases in “political terror” and “violent demonstrations“ indicators, with the former doubling in a year.
“The pandemic pushed many countries towards economic and political crises, while also heightening levels of anti-government sentiment and distrust of authority,” the report stated. “Countries that had become progressively more peaceful experienced outbreaks of protests and violence aimed particularly at the government’s handling of the pandemic.”
Throughout the pandemic, a rift grew among Canadians where the politicization of vaccines divided the nation.
Canada experienced an upheaval of angry demonstrators across the country, most notably in January when the Freedom Convoy truckers drove from B.C. to Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates.
It was then that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act. However in order to declare a “public order emergency” under the act, the government must clearly show that: there are “threats to the security of Canada” and that it “is so serious as to be a national emergency.”
The government deemed the protesters a threat when many were arrested for various charges, including counselling mischief, counselling intimidation, counselling to obstruct police, intimidation and mischief.
Despite these deteriorations, there were major improvements particularly in the “terrorism impact”, “nuclear” and “heavy weapons” indicators, with the former falling to the lowest level seen since 2015.
The GPI also showed that Canada was among the NATO countries that spent the least in defence, ranking between Italy and Slovenia respectively.
The Global Peace Index uses 23 quantitative and qualitative indicators each weighted on a scale of 1-5, and measures the state of peace across three domains: the level of societal safety and security, the extent of ongoing domestic and international conflict, and and the degree of militarization.
Seven of the ten countries at the top of the GPI are in Europe, Iceland remaining the most peaceful country — a position it has held since 2008.