[Democracy Watch Logo]

News Release

Canadian Federal Government Far From Owning the Podium on Democracy and Government Accountability

Drops to 11th in Global Integrity's New Annual Report -- Another Accountability Act Needed to End Secret Donations, Gifts and Lobbying, Excessive Secrecy Overall, Patronage Appointments,
Arbitrary Election Calls, Lack of PM, Judicial and Senate Accountability and Weak Enforcement Agencies

Monday, March 1, 2010

OTTAWA - Today, at a public forum on Parliament Hill in Ottawa organized by the Liberal Party of Canada, Democracy Watch called on all federal political parties to undertake a similar effort as the Olympic "Own the Podium" program to make Canada's federal government the most democratic and accountable in the world.

According to the international organization Global Integrity's New Annual ReportCanada dropped from 10th to 11th out of the almost 100 countries evaluated in the past few years (and will very likely drop to 15th to 20th position as Global Integrity evaluates more developed countries around the world).  The Report is the world's most comprehensive, detailed assessment (using more than 300 indicators) of national government accountability, integrity and democratic process.

"Canada's federal government has significant loopholes in its democratic process and government accountability systems when compared to other countries, and has a lot of work to do to become the world's leading democracy," said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch and Assistant to the 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, and other loopholes that allow for excessive government secrecy including secret, unethical lobbying, and also undermined by Cabinet patronage appointments, arbitrary election calls and a flawed voting system, lack of Prime Minister, judicial and Senate accountability and weak government accountability lapdog agencies."

"The good news is that if federal politicians pass another comprehensive Accountability Act, Canada can win the gold as the most democratic and accountable national government in the world," 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: 1. Civil Society, Public Information and Media; 2. Elections; 3. Government Accountability; 4. Administration and Civil Service; 5. Oversight and Regulation; 6. Anti-Corruption and Rule of Law. 

None of the national governments that have been assessed since 2006 have received a "Very Strong" rating.  In Canada, increasing problems with government secrecy and lack of enforcement of key government accountability laws, as well as the arbitrary 2008 federal election call by Prime Minister Harper and 2009 and 2010 shutdowns of Parliament, has put the federal government at the "Moderate" rating level.

As a result, of the national governments that have been assessed since 2006, Canada still ranks behind Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland and Romania, as well as Germany, Israel, Japan, Spain, South Korea and the U.S. (with Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland, South Korea and the U.S. comfortably at the "Strong" rating level, while Germany, Italy, Japan, Romania and Spain just barely made it into the "Strong" rating tier).

See for details:

Overall, while Canada's Legal Framework mark is 90%, its Implementation mark is only 68% mainly because of an overall weak government accountability law enforcement record.

In Global Integrity's six categories in its Integrity Indicators Scorecard, Canada has its worst scores in categories (To see the full report on Canada, click here):

  • 3. Government Accountability (Weak at 64% overall, especially in the sub-category of Judicial Accountability with a Very Weak Score of 31%);
  • 4. Administration and Civil Service (Moderate at 76% overall, with a Weak score of 61% in the sub-category of Civil Service Regulations), and;
  • 6. Anti-Corruption and Rule of Law (Moderate at 77% overall, with a Very Weak score of 58% in the sub-category of Law Enforcement).
Canada has its best scores in categories:
  • 1. Civil Society, Public Information and Media (Strong at 87% overall, with a Very Strong mark of 92% for media freedom overall);
  • 5. Oversight and Regulation (Strong at 87% overall, especially in the sub-category of national government auditing with a Very Strong mark of 94%), and;
  • 2. Elections (Strong at 86% overall).

[NOTE: See also Democracy Watch's 2009 Report Card on the Federal Conservatives' Accountability and Democratic Reform Record which details the federal Conservatives' 29 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 failed to close the 90 undemocratic and accountability loopholes and flaws in the federal government's accountability and decision-making systems (To see a summary of the 90 loopholes, click here)].

[NOTE: See also Democracy Watch's Summer 2009 submissions submissions to the Oliphant Inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber affair -- the Inquiry's fact-finding and policy reports will be made public in May 2010]

- 30 -

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

Democracy Watch's Clean Up the System webpage


Please Donate Online Now to Democracy