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Canada loses points in annual corruption ranking

Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index shows significant improvement among some poor performers and some movement at the top, as well. In particular, Canada’s score fell three points in 2013, to 81 (out of 100). The Corruption Perceptions Index measures how various stakeholders perceive corruption in the public sectors of the subject countries, based on reviews of government accountability, access to information, conflicts of interest and abuse of office, and integrity rules and anti-corruption laws.

A number of factors likely played a role in the reduction in Canada’s score in 2013, despite it remaining among the top 10 countries.

The Charbonneau Commission in Quebec brought to light substantial corruption in that province’s public service—and continues to expose abuses. Three mayors, including two in Montreal, resigned due to allegations of corruption. Some individuals who have testified before the commission have suggested that the corruption is just as bad in Ontario.

Spending, accountability and access-to-information scandals plagued Canada’s federal government in 2013, including ongoing allegations of election fraud and one conviction, inappropriate spending claims by government ministers and senators, and continuing failures to produce requested information in a timely manner. Indeed, a 2010 study found Canada fared poorly with respect to freedom of information, compared to Commonwealth nations Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

The top-ranked countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index were:

  • Denmark and New Zealand (tied at number 1, with scores of 91/100)
  • Finland and Sweden (tied at 3, scores 89)
  • Norway and Singapore (tied at 5, scores 86)
  • Switzerland (7, score 85)
  • the Netherlands (8, score 83)
  • Australia and Canada (tied at 9, scores 81)

The lowest-ranked countries were:

  • Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan (tied at number 175, with scores of 8/100)
  • Sudan (174, score 11)
  • South Sudan (173, score 14)
  • Libya (172, score 15)
  • Iraq (171, score 16)
  • Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Syria (168, scores 17)

While the Corruption Perceptions Index only examines corruption in the public service, the issue remains relevant for private enterprises. As the Charbonneau Commission demonstrates, corrupt public servants do not work in a vacuum. They are often willing partners or accomplices to private businesses or individuals. In other words, private sector organizations also have to take a close look at their governance and operations to ensure they are not engaged in corrupt activities. And as corruption in the public sector declines, it becomes even more important to run a clean private business, as those that remain corrupt, or are perceived to be corrupt, become less attractive for public contracts. Corrupt organizations also lose public trust and may miss out on general business opportunities. Such lost opportunities may appear as a mere blip for banks and financial institutions, but for smaller businesses, they can be the difference between success and failure.

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Adam Gorley

Editor at First Reference
Adam Gorley, B.A. (Phil.), is a researcher, content provider and editor. He contributes regularly to First Reference Talks and Internal Control blogs, HRinfodesk and other First Reference publications. His areas of focus include broad human resources issues, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance and government policies, information technology and labour market trends.Read more
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