Yesterday I wrote that Canada should be “promoting and protecting real (not illusionary, illiberal) democracy in the world.”
Now, right on time, Transparency International, a pretty highly regarded organization, publishes its Transparency Perceptions Index for 2015 (in which Canada ranks 9th, behind Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore, but ahead of Germany (10), Australia (13) and the USA (16)). Transparency International suggests that some exemplary countries, it singles out Sweden, are actually exporting corruption because e.g. Swedish companies pay bribes to corrupt “leaders’ in ethically weak countries in order to secure contracts.
Canada should not, ever, condone corrupt business practices by Canadian companies anywhere in the world. We should insist that our companies do business abroad just as they are meant to do it here. We know that some Canadians companies have, in the past, at least, failed this test. Canada should use its laws and regulations and aid policies, including the criminal code, to go after Canadian companies that lie, cheat and steal. But, Canada should also, use trade rules (in whatever ways those rules allow) to reward Canadian companies (and their foreign customers) that win contracts the right way. We should, in other words, export honesty and fair dealing. They are amongst the institutions I described a few weeks ago.
If we want to trade more freely in an increasingly more peaceful and more prosperous world then we need to help ethically and culturally weak countries help to strengthen themselves. We can do that by exporting our values along with our grain, lumber, oil and ore, subway cars and engineering and financial services.