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Canada slips again in global corruption ranking

A prisoner walks inside the Toronto Jail.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Canada continues to slip in global corruption standings, falling from 6th to 10th place in the Corruption Perceptions Index to be released Thursday.

It is Canada's worst showing in five years in the survey by Transparency International, which ranks 183 countries in order of 'very clean' down to 'highly corrupt,' by their perceived levels of corruption based on expert assessments and domestic opinion surveys.

But Peter Dent, a director of TI in Canada and the national forensic leader at Deloitte saw the ranking as good news because it measured growing public awareness of a problem.

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"Is corruption getting worse or it is being talked about more?" he said, noting that the RCMP has made a series of high-profile raids recently and Quebec has set up a public inquiry to investigate widespread reports of corruption, mainly in the construction industry.

"Now people are saying: 'Hey maybe corruption is a big deal, maybe this is something we should pay attention to,'" Mr. Dent said.

While this latest survey measures the views of corruption inside Canada, the country's image abroad has also been battered recently.

Just last month, Canada slid from the top spot of countries with a reputation for honest overseas business practices to a much less impressive middle ranking among Western countries whose companies pay bribes abroad according to TI's Bribe Payers Index.

Still, Canada has always remained in the top ten least corrupt countries since 2007 and is the highest-scoring country in the Americas in the Corruption Perceptions Index.

On a scale from o (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean) Canada scored an 8.7. Two thirds of the ranked countries scored less than 5. Most countries struck by the Arab Spring revolts ranked in the lower half of the index.

The countries perceived to be most corrupt in the world were Somalia, North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan. The cleanest were New Zealand, Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

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Last spring, Transparency International criticized Canada for being the only G7 country that has been stuck at the bottom of its bribery enforcement rankings since the organization began issuing its reports in 2005.

While the RCMP has stepped up its investigations against corruption recently, Mr. Dent raised concerns about possible cutbacks to the force's white collar crime activities, revealed in the Globe and Mail yesterday.

"How is that going to impact them if the already unsustainable resources are going to dwindle," he said. "What does this indicate of the political will in Canada?"

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