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Canadians are known for their politeness, but we have a short fuse for bigotry.

Case in point: A “social experiment” set in Hamilton, Ont. proved that most of us will come to the defence of a person being singled out for racial abuse. The experiment worked by using two actors, one to play an Islamophobe and the other to play a Muslim. They were going to test how Canadians would respond in the face of blatant prejudice in the wake of the recent shooting incident at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Hamilton just so happens to also be the home of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, the soldier killed in the attack.

The video begins at a bus stop. The actor playing the racist approaches the one playing a Muslim to “suggest” that he take another bus. When a middle-aged bystander quickly chimes in, asking why, the pretend Islamophobe replies “look at how he’s dressed.”

Naturally, that didn’t go down very well.

“You know what? You can’t stereotype and judge people by their clothes,” the white, grey-haired bystander says. “Or their nationalities or anything else, you know what I mean?”

The filmmakers repeated their skit in several different locations to get a range of responses. Not a single person in the video seemed willing to go along with the racist behaviour. Even when the actor asks bystanders to consider the death of Cirillo, one women replies “It was awful and tragic, but I don’t think that’s any reason to persecute someone just because of what they’re wearing.”

As you probably expected, it wasn’t long before the racist actor was punched in the face by a hothead. Violence is never cool, and we’d never condone it, but at least that outburst went to a good cause.

“The social experiment had a negative ending to it but, you know what? It’s positive because he stood up for him and I appreciate that,” the actor, struggling with a bloody nose at this point, admitted. “It’s good.”

It sure is. Check out the video above.

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