Editorial: Continuing to be on the take in Canada

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Canada's global leadership deficit is becoming increasingly concerning for its trade and business prospects.

As noted last week in this space, the country is an also-ran when it comes to power, influence and effort in Asia when it should be putting shoulder to the wheel in building its profile in all three areas in a region where, especially on the West Coast, it has strong cultural and trade connections.

The economic opportunities in a region that is now home to three of the world’s fastest-growing economies are huge.

But continuing to invest little more than Monday-to-Friday effort won’t unlock them for Canadian business.

Canadian initiative and leadership is also lacking in another critical international business arena.

Corruption is poisoning a rising number of trade and business networks. Highly developed industrialized countries should be spearheading the fight against it. Sadly, for Canada, that’s not the case.

Transparency International’s 2018 progress report on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Anti-Bribery Convention singles out Canada, along with Austria, Finland and South Korea, as laggards in the international effort to stem the rising tide of bribery and corruption.

The four countries, according to the report, offset the efforts of other regions, including Brazil, Portugal and Sweden, that are investing more resources in anti-corruption initiatives.

Canada’s performance here is disappointing. This country, which is blessed with political stability and abundant natural resource wealth, should be playing a prominent role among the regions that appreciate the economic and social value of countering the corrosion of corruption at every level.

Global merchandise trade, which Transparency International notes quadrupled between 1980 and 2011, is the foundation upon which the affluence of leading world economies is based. Corruption, bribery and kickbacks constitute the lethal cocktail that will hasten its early demise.

Canada’s global leadership deficit here is helping ensure it remains on offer in a growing number of countries.