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Canada slips in corruption-ranking measure

Canada is still a pretty clean country as far as corruption is concerned, but it's not as clean as people thought it was last year, an anti-corruption watchdog says.
A protester clashes with police near Tahrir Square in Cairo. Tranparency International notes that most of the Arab Spring countries, like Egypt, rank in the lower half of its corruption perceptions index. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty )

Canada is still a pretty clean country as far as corruption is concerned, but it's not as clean as people thought it was last year, an anti-corruption watchdog says.

Canada is in 10th place among 183 countries in the latest corruption perceptions index issued by Transparency International. Last year, Canada ranked sixth.

Corruption Perceptions Index
Country Score 
1. New Zealand 9.5
2. Denmark 9.4
2. Finland 9.4
4. Sweden 9.3
5. Singapore 9.2
10. Canada 8.7
14. Germany 8.0
14. Germany 8.0
16. U.K. 7.8
24. United States 7.1
25. France 7.0
75. China 3.6
80. Greece 3.4
112. Egypt 2.9
180. Afghanistan 1.5
182. North Korea 1.0
182. Somalia 1.0
Source: Transparency International

Despite the slide, Canada is the highest-scoring country in the Americas and the only one in the top 10. The United States, for instance, is in 24th spot, just ahead of France. Germany and Japan are tied for 14th spot, while the U.K is in 16th place.

New Zealand took top spot in the annual ranking, followed by Finland and Denmark. Sweden and Singapore rounded out the top five.

At the bottom of the heap are Somalia and North Korea, followed by Myanmar and Afghanistan.

The index scores countries with a scale that goes from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean) based on a variety of factors such as enforcement of anti-corruption laws, conflicts of interest and access to information.

Canada was assigned a score of 8.7.

Transparency International, which defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain, says two-thirds of the countries it surveyed scored less than 5.0.

Corruption is still a huge global problem, the organization says, accusing many governments around the world of failing its citizens through corruption, abuse of public resources and bribery.

"This year, we have seen corruption on protesters' banners, be they rich or poor," said Transparency International chair Huguette Labelle in a statement. "Whether in a Europe hit by debt crisis or an Arab world starting a new political era, leaders must heed the demands for better government."

Most of the Arab Spring countries rank in the lower half of the index. The group has said previously that nepotism, bribery and patronage are deeply ingrained in the region.

As for Europe, the report finds that the eurozone countries that are going through serious debt crises, like Greece, are among the lowest-scoring of the countries in the EU, in part because they have failed to tackle some of the key drivers of the debt crisis like tax evasion and bribery. 

"2011 saw the movement for greater transparency take on irresistible momentum, as citizens around the world demand accountability from their governments," said Transparency International managing director Cobus de Swardt.

Canada has not escaped criticism from the watchdog. In a May report, Transparency International said Canada was lagging behind all other G7 countries in enforcing anti-bribery measures against its businesses operating abroad.

A similar accusation was made two months earlier by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which noted that Canada has mounted only one prosecution in the 12 years since it brought in its foreign bribery law.