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Canada - Corruption

There is disagreement among researchers on the definition of "corruption." For international institutions that have crusaded against administrative-political corruption, the focus has been on developing countries, with little attention to the persistence of such corruption in developed countries. Research into the causes and costs of corruption is not a primary concern or interest in countries like Canada. Contrary to the common tendency to view corruption as a series of actions that can only be identified and understood through logic and the conceptual tools of criminal law, it is a two-edged legal phenomenon. As viewed from the perspective of the criminal justice system, "corruption" is the term applied to certain practices that are viewed quite differently from within the normative culture of the institutions where the practices occur.

Corruption is an incredibly complex issue that ultimately manifests itself differently in every country. In some countries petty administrative corruption is a huge problem that may result from low wages and economic stagnation. In wealthier countries, including the US, Canada, and Western Europe, corruption takes the form of powerful vested interests influencing the political process for their own benefit. In that case, the causes are less related to low wages and more to deficiencies in the system.

On February 6, 2006, Stephen Harper was sworn in as Canada's twenty-second Prime Minister,succeeding Liberal Party leader Paul Martin. The January 23, 2006 election victory by theConservative Party ended 12 years of Liberal Party rule that, in the end, was tainted bycorruption and ethics concerns, despite the economic progress Canada achieved while theLiberals were in power.

On an international scale, corruption in Canada is low and similar to that found in the United States. In general, the type of due diligence that would be required in the United States to avoid corrupt practices would be appropriate in Canada. Canada is a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption. Canada is a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, as well as the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.

Canada has strong anti-corruption controls in place and holds its officials and law enforcement personnel to a high standard of conduct. Civil servants found to be engaged in malfeasance of any kind are subject to prosecution. Investigations into accusations of wrongdoing and corruption by civil servants are thorough and credible.

The corruption by foreign officials presented three identifiable effects: (1) negative impact on the Canadian economy or private business relationships; (2) negative impact on Canada's relationships with other countries; and (3) negative impact on individual Canadian citizens and public safety. The evidence showed that the influence of foreign country corruption was not extensive. However, it did establish that illegal immigration was of significant concern to Canada. Illegal immigration disrupted the immigration process, devalued the Canadian passport, and increased the risk that illegal immigrants would be criminals and exposed Canadians to an increased threat of violence, economic loss, and social disruption, especially involving drug trafficking.

Canada has been preoccupied with a number of debates related to laws and government policies pertaining to people smuggling and illegal migration. The Canadian media has been inundated with news reports that address not only the issue of human smuggling but also the use of false identification to facilitate this activity. Of particular significance is the interwoven corruption that plays a significant role in many of the false identity schemes. Corrupt acts that facilitate the acceptance of (or obtaining) fraudulent documents take diverse forms. Immigration and police officers working at entry points have been vulnerable to involvement in criminal schemes. The media has highlighted the illegal pursuits of some officials at a number of Canadian consulates, who have been allegedly "selling" Canadian visas.

The scale and scope of corruption in the forest sector sets it apart from others.Forest-related corruption has been reported in countries as diverse as Cameroon andCanada. It can take numerous forms-petty bribery and extortion by forest officials,or payments to higher-level administrators for timber concessions to sanction changes in land use, and most sinister of all, to the erosion of institutionsbeyond the sector and across the economy. In Canada, violations were detected in 55 percent of areas designated for protection.

Governments in the U.S., England, Australia, and Canada have justified the expansion of legalized gambling on grounds of new tax revenue, employment opportunities, tourism, and the curtailment of illegal gambling. In Canada, legalized gambling provides much of the revenue for many charitable organizations and provincial governments have come to depend on its revenue as well; unlike the U.S., considerable government involvement is required by law in operating gambling activities.

The Mafia, which is of Italian origin, is believed to be involved in all aspects of organized crime in the United States and Canada. Organized crime has also emerged from the Chinese population in British Columbia. However, the ethnic character of organized crime in British Columbia should not be over-emphasized; a variety of circumstances and opportunities have attracted criminals from every ethnic background and produced groups that are fluid and informal.

In recent years, the Group of Eight (G8), an informal group of eight countries-Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States-who meet to discuss broad economic and foreign policies, has made the fight against corruption a top priority, including efforts to combat high-level corruption (kleptocracy), deny safe haven to corrupt officials, coordinate on the recovery of illicitly acquired assets, and support for transparency pilots to improve budget, procurement, and concession-letting accountability and transparency.

The economic interdependence of nations and the practices associated with this interdependence have drawn the attention of international bodies more than it has individual nations, resulting in the proliferation of international legal instruments and "lobbying" operations of international and regional bodies. The impact of this largely symbolic international effort to counter corruption has not been clearly assessed at the national level.

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