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Despite strong laws, Canada’s integrity rank dives

|Written By Robert Todd

Despite citing a strong legal framework, an international agency has downgraded Canada’s global rank for federal government accountability to 19th for 2010 from 11th in 2008 due to loopholes that undermine those laws.

“Canada’s federal government has significant loopholes in its democratic process and government accountability systems when compared to other countries, and weak enforcement in many areas, and so has a lot of work to do to become the world’s leading democracy,” said Duff Conacher, the Democracy Watch co-ordinator who served as lead researcher for the Canada report within Global Integrity’s 2010 Global Integrity Report.

“Government integrity continues to be undermined by loopholes that allow for dishonesty, secret donations to some candidates and to political party trust funds, conflicts of interest by policy-makers, excessive government secrecy, secret, unethical lobbying, and is also undermined by cabinet patronage appointments, arbitrary election calls, and a flawed voting system,” said Conacher.

He added that accountability for the prime minister, Senate, and judiciary remain “weak,” while whistleblower protections are inadequate.

The Global Integrity report has evaluated nearly 100 countries since 2007. It assesses national government accountability and integrity, as well as the democratic process as a whole. The potency of crucial laws and enforcement records are also weighed.

The report is glowing in terms of Canada’s 90 out of 100 score for the legal framework of its federal government. But loopholes, errors in the laws, and poor enforcement led to a mark of just 61 for implementation of those laws.

The country’s worst scores came in the areas of government conflicts of interest safeguards (64), public administration and professionalism safeguards (71), and a sub-category of anti-corruption agency enforcement (59).

Canada netted high scores for elections (83), government oversight and controls of finances (82), and the sub-category of media’s ability to report on corruption (88).

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