Canadians believe corruption is on the rise: survey

Apparently, Canada has a lot of conspiracy theorists.

According to a well-respected annual international survey, released earlier this week, the majority of Canadians think corruption in this country is on the rise, think it's a problem in the public sector and in government and that our legislators have little power to fight it.

Just look at some of these statistics:

- 53 per cent of Canadians believe that the level of corruption in Canada has increased in the past 24 months.

- 54 per cent of those interviewed said that the government is either "entirely" or "to a large extent" run by a few big entities acting in their own best interests.

- 62 per cent of Canadians think political parties are affected by corruption

- 39 per cent of us think the media is affected by corruption

- 3 per cent of those interviewed reported paying a bribe to the judiciary

Perhaps the numbers are buoyed by the Senate expense scandal?

[ Related: Canadians praise B.C and Alberta, criticize Quebec in "best and worst province" poll ]

The survey and result tabulation was conducted by Transparency International's "Global Corruption Barometer," which interviewed 114,000 people around the world including 1,000 Canadians.

Internationally, we have company in regard to mistrusting public institutions.

Canadians rank in the middle of the pack in their belief that government is run by special interests and that political parties are the most corrupt institution in the country.

On a positive note, Canada has one of the lowest 'bribery rates' in the world at 3 per cent. Australia's rate is 1 per cent, the United States is at 7 per cent while 84 per cent of those surveyed in Sierra Leone admitted to paying a bribe in the past 12 months.

[ Related: Canada's reputation is tops for third year in a row ]

So, what's the takeaway for the survey for Canada and for around the world? More transparency.

"Politicians themselves have much to do to regain trust. The Global Corruption Barometer 2013 shows a crisis of trust in politics and real concern about the capacity of those institutions responsible for bringing criminals to justice. In 51 countries around the world political parties are seen as the most corrupt institution. 55 per cent of respondents think government is run by special interests," notes the survey report.

"Politicians can lead by example by publishing asset declarations for themselves and their immediate family. Political parties and individual candidates, meanwhile, must disclose where they get their money from to make clear who funds them and to reveal potential conflicts of interest."

While Canada is a lot more transparent than a lot of other countries, we can still do more. Tightening the rules on secondary incomes for MPs and Senators and more scrutiny on the expenses of political parties would be a good start.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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