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Corruption in Canada worst in a decade, finds international watchdog

Canada has, once again, slipped down the Transparency Canada rankings for corruption to 13th place

Canada has, once again, slipped down an international ranking for corruption, standing at 13th in the world and well back of world leaders, such as Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore.

Since 2015, the year Liberal leader Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister, Canada has fallen nine points, to a score of 74 out of 100 on the Transparency International's 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index. No country has seen a bigger drop in ratings since 2017 than Canada.

While the latest ranking is Canada's worst in a decade, the country remained at the top of the rankings in the Americas, where progress on stamping out corruption has "ground to a halt" and democracies like Chile and the United States rank even lower. 

Transparency International, a non-profit non-government organization dedicated to sunshine laws, specifically cited ethical breaches by former Finance Minister Bill Morneau for awarding the administration of a $900 million grants program to WE Charity, which has a history of paying politicians and family members, including the Trudeaus, for speaking events.

Also cited is the SNC-Lavalin “foreign bribery case that spiralled into a political crisis” when Trudeau breached conflict of interest rules by improperly pressuring then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to defer prosecution of the construction company.

Transparency International notes how "top-scoring countries," such as Canada, “have proven too weak to meet the challenge of increasingly globalised, networked corruption – which is not measured by the Index.

“As a result, these seemingly ‘clean’ countries are enabling or even fuelling cross-border corruption, even if it may originate from other places further down the CPI table.”

And, as these countries continue to enable transnational corruption, there are “consequences for their own corruption levels,” stated the group.

Transparency Canada has often commented on real estate transparency in Canada. And while it continues to be an issue in B.C., the group notes the provincial government has taken steps to improve anti-corruption measures, such as by establishing the first provincial beneficial ownership registry for residential property as part of the Land Owners Transparency Act. The registry — a service the government intends to charge money for — has been delayed to fall 2022, and questions remain over the effectiveness of enforcement.

“The limited availability of real estate data and of beneficial ownership data, in particular, means that we still know very little about who owns properties and whether they have been purchased with dirty money. This continues to be the case in the four markets – Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States – we had analysed in 2017,” stated Transparency International.

According to Transparency International, “this year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) reveals that corruption levels are at a worldwide standstill.

“This year, the global average remains unchanged for the tenth year in a row, at just 43 out of a possible 100 points. Despite multiple commitments, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption in the last decade. Two-thirds of countries score below 50, indicating that they have serious corruption problems, while 27 countries are at their lowest score ever,” notes the report.

Transparency International asserts that the lack of improvements worldwide are negatively impacting democracy and human rights.

"Transparency International found countries that violate civil liberties consistently score lower on the CPI. Complacency in fighting corruption exacerbates human rights abuses and undermines democracy, setting off a vicious spiral."

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