Corruption watchdog’s Canadian chapter meets where it began – at York

Before the Enron scandal and the Gomery inquiry, some people might have questioned the need for a Canadian organization dedicated to combatting corruption. After an election earlier this year that saw the government defeated, few people are now that naive. The implications of this and other events, such as the emergence of countries like China and India as major economic powers, will be up for discussion at the ninth annual meeting of Transparency International Canada, when it convenes at York’s Keele campus on May 26.

Wesley CraggHuguette LabelleThe organization was formed 10 years ago by Wesley Cragg (far left), George R. Gardiner Professor of Business Ethics at York’s Schulich School of Business, in partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency. Cragg and the former head of CIDA, Huguette Labelle (left), who is now Chair and president of the international office of Transparency International (TI), are the featured speakers at the event, which will look at the future of both organizations and elect a new board.

About 30-40 delegates are expected for the meeting, which will be held at the Schulich School of Business, beginning at noon with a keynote luncheon address by Labelle, who is also chancellor of the University of Ottawa. Following her speech, Cragg will speak about TI Canada’s first 10 years as an introduction to a discussion of the Canadian organization’s future.

In addition to monitoring and reporting corruption in domestic companies and governments, TI Canada will consider the challenges of doing business in a global economy with countries that are noted for corruption, China in particular.

“The task of working internationally is certainly growing,” said Cragg. “China is notoriously corrupt and, with a global economy now, we need to make a determined effort to set standards.”

Canada, which likes to see itself as a world leader in clean, ethical behaviour, dropped to 14th place in 2005 – from fifth a few years ago – on the anti-corruption watchdog’s ranking of 146 countries because of the Liberal sponsorship scandal. No. 1 as the cleanest country was Iceland, followed by Finland, New Zealand, Denmark, Iceland, Singapore and Sweden. The Netherlands and the United Kingdom ranked 11th and the United States was 17th.