Peter O'Neil, Europe CorrespondentCanwest News Service
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
CREDIT: Canada was tied for ninth place among 180 countries and was first in the Americas, according to the ranking. Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand were tied for the top spot overall, with Singapore close behind.PARIS - Canada is viewed as the least corrupt country in the Americas and is an "inspiration" for its neighbours, according to the 2008 index released Tuesday by a Berlin-based watchdog.
But Canada's corruption ranking, despite being the highest of the G8 industrialized countries, has only partially recovered from the hit it took in 2004-06 period during the height of the public furor over the sponsorship scandal, said the Canadian spokeswoman for Transparency International.
Canada earned a 8.7 out of 10 score, good enough to retain the ninth-place spot it rose to in 2007, TI announced Tuesday.
Canada's score has slid steadily from 9.0 in 2002 to 8.7 in 2003, 8.5 in 2004, 8.4 in 2005, and 8.5 in 2006.
The figure jumped to 8.7 in 2007, a year after Prime Minister Stephen Harper formed government after winning the 2006 election, in which the Liberal sponsorship scandal was a major issue.
TI Canada executive-director Bronwyn Best speculated that Canada's rating hasn't fully recovered in part because of lingering memories about the sponsorship scandal.
An added factor is the more recent public focus on the Brian Mulroney-Karlheinz Schreiber case that was the subject of a high-profile probe by a parliamentary committee.
Harper has since launched a judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Schreiber's payment of large amounts of cash to Mulroney in 1993, shortly after he stepped down as prime minister.
"It takes many years to build a reputation - whether you are a country, an organization or an individual. It takes a moment to destroy it," Best said.
"Building it up, again, can take even longer than the first time, and it is questionable whether or not you can reach the original apex again."
The U.S., burdened by the ongoing view that lobbyists and deep-pocketed special interest groups hold too much sway in government decisions, ranked 18th in the world and second in the Americas.
More than half the 32 countries in North and South America scored less than five points out of 10 in the TI rankings, indicating that each had a "serious" corruption problem.
Canada "therefore serves as a benchmark and inspiration for the Americas," TI said in a news release.
The TI score assesses the "perceived levels of public-sector corruption in a given country and is a composite index, drawing on different expert and business surveys," according to its website.
In Canada, six studies were considered, including the 2008 Economist Intelligence Unit study and the 2008 World Competitiveness Report of the Institute for Management Development.
TI warned that chronic corruption around the world, especially in poorer countries, is wasting billions in western aid dollars and resulting in a "humanitarian disaster" in poorer countries.
"In the poorest countries, corruption levels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitals or clean water is in play," said TI chairwoman Huguette Labelle.
Among G8 countries, Germany was next in 14th place, Britain was 16th, Japan was tied with the U.S. and Belgium in 18th place, France was 23rd, Italy was 55th, and Russia was a dismal 147th - in a tie with Syria, Bangladesh, and Kenya.
It's nice to be honest.
And it's even nicer when other nations recognize it.
Not to be tooo political but considering the Harper government is given full credit for restoring Canada's battered ratings which had plunged under the alleged lieing, cheating and stealing encouraged by the Liberal Party of Canada while it was in power.
And considering Harper is given full credit for allowing the light of day to penetrate the
Mulroney- KarlHeinz issue which has since withered on the vine.
Is Dion really capable of expunging all the Liberal power brokers, back room boys and Lib lobbyists that felt totally entitled to rooting through the taxpayer trough last time?