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Global Integrity Report lowers Canadian federal government’s score from 80 to 75 — Weak enforcement of Accountability Act’s loophole-filled rules the main reason for drop in democracy rating

News Release

Global Integrity Report lowers Canadian federal government’s score from 80 to 75 — Weak enforcement of Accountability Act‘s loophole-filled rules the main reason for drop in democracy rating

Canada drops from 11th to 19th out of 100 countries assessed since 2007 — A “Real Accountability Act” needed to end secret donations, gifts and lobbying; excessive secrecy overall; patronage appointments; conflicts of interest; arbitrary election calls; lack of PM, judicial and Senate accountability and; to strengthen whistleblower protection and good government enforcement agencies

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

OTTAWA – Today, Global Integrity released its 2010 Global Integrity Report which dropped Canada from 11th to 19th out of the almost 100 countries evaluated since 2007.  The Report is the world’s most comprehensive, detailed assessment (using more than 300 indicators) of national government accountability, integrity and democratic process, and measures the strength of key laws and enforcement records up to the end of 2010.

“As the Global Integrity Report makes clear, 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, Lead Researcher for the Canada report, and Coordinator of Democracy Watch and Assistant Coordinator of the Democracy Education Network“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, and lack of Prime Minister, judicial and Senate accountability and weak whistleblower protection and government accountability lapdog agencies.”

“Democracy Watch and the good government coalitions it coordinates call on all federal parties in the new Parliament to pass a Real Accountability Act to close the dozens of undemocratic and accountability loopholes in the federal government,” said Conacher.

Each national government is assessed by Global Integrity’s in-country experts by providing answers to Global Integrity’s more than 300 questions in its Integrity Indicators Scorecard.  The Scorecard is divided into six categories (with 23 sub-categories in total), as follows: I. Non-Governmental Organizations, Public Information and Media; II. Elections; III. Government Conflicts of Interest Safeguards and Checks and Balances; IV. Public Administration and Professionalism; V. Government Oversight and Controls; VI. Anti-Corruption Legal Framework, Judicial Impartiality, and Law Enforcement Professionalism.

None of the national governments that have been assessed since 2007 have received a “Very Strong” above 90 rating.  In Canada, increasing problems with government secrecy and weak enforcement of key ethics and government accountability laws, as well as the 2008 arbitrary election call and the arbitrary 2008 and 2009 shutdowns of Parliament, have lowered Canada’s federal government from the high-“Moderate” score of 80 in 2008 to the mid-Moderate rating of 75 in 2010.

Overall, the main problem with Canada’s federal government is that while it has enacted almost all the laws needed for an effective government integrity system (and so receives a Strong overall score of 90 for its Legal Framework), loopholes and flaws in the laws, and weak enforcement, undermine the system (so that Canada received Weak overall score of 61 for its implementation of the laws).

Canada has its worst scores in the following categories and sub-categories:

  • III. Government Conflicts of Interest Safeguards (Weak at 64 overall because of loopholes in rules and weak enforcement by Ethics Commissioner, and especially bad in sub-category III-3: Judicial Accountability with a Very Weak Score of 32 because of patronage appointments to federal agencies, boards, commissions and tribunals, and lack of effective conflict of interest enforcement for all types of judges and commissioners);
  • IV. Public Administration and Professionalism safeguards (Very low Moderate at 71 overall, with a Weak score of 62 in sub-category IV-1: Civil Service Conflict of Interest and Political Independence safeguards because of lack of independence and effective conflict of interest enforcement, and a Weak score of 63 in sub-category IV-2: Whistle-blowing Protections because of flaws in the law and weak enforcement by Integrity Commissioner), and;
  • sub-category VI.-2 Anti-Corruption Agency enforcement record with a Weak score of 59 because of weak enforcement records by the Ethics Commissioner, Commissioner of Lobbying, Integrity Commissioner and Senate Ethics Officer, and lack of key powers for Information Commissioner, Auditor General and Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Canada has its best scores in the following categories and sub-categories:

  • II. Elections with a overall Strong score of 83;
  • V. Government Oversight and Controls of finances with an overall Strong score of 82, and;
  • Sub-category I-2 Media’s Ability to Report on Corruption with an Strong score of 88.

See for more details on Democracy Watch’s website:

[NOTE: See also Democracy Watch’s 2010 Report Card on the Federal Conservatives’ Accountability and Democratic Reform Record which details the federal Conservatives’ 39 broken promises in the loophole-filled, so-called “Federal Accountability Act” (FAA) and other measures which, along with the inaction of past Liberal and Conservative federal governments, have left 100 undemocratic and accountability loopholes and flaws in the federal government’s accountability and decision-making systems (To see a summary of the 100 loopholes, click here)].

[NOTE: See also Democracy Watch’s news release about the May 2010 report (archive website) of the Oliphant Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair, to which the Conservative government has still not responded.]

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For more information, contact:
Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch and Assistant Coordinator of the Democracy Education Network
Tel: 613-241-5179

Democracy Watch’s Clean Up the System webpage